Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Adelaide Emerson, 1840-1918

By Angela M. Keith

Gorham, Maine

Adelaide Emerson was born on October 14, 1840 in Ellsworth, Maine to Otis Kent and Catherine Jordan. She attended the John Quincy Adams Hawes School, a private school in Ellsworth. She married Homer H. Emerson (or also listed as Horace Homer Emerson) in 1864, and the couple had one son, Edward H. Emerson. Adelaide Emerson worked as a dressmaker through 1891, and she and her husband, a shoemaker, ran their respective businesses from their Church Street home in Ellsworth. According to the 1910 Census, she was widowed from Homer, and resided in their home alone. She died on January 16, 1918 at the age of 77.

Emerson was a colleague of fellow suffragist Ann Greeley, and the two presented a petition with the signature of 54 others to the legislature in 1873, helping to galvanize mid-central Maine.

Along with over 1,000 of her crusading peers, Adelaide Emerson attended the Maine Women's Suffrage Association convention held on January 29, 1873 at Granite Hall in Augusta. A large contingent of legislators also attended the event, which drew supporters from various New England states. The Honorable Joshua Nye presided over the meeting and was later elected President of the Association for 1873. Mrs. Agnes A. Houghton of Bath spoke memorably of the “Turning of the Tide,” the call for elevation of women “socially, politically, and morally, enjoying the same rights of man.” Additional speeches were made by Judge Benjamin Kingsbury, Jr., Henry B. Blackwell, Rev. Ellen Gustin, and Mary Eastman, among others. Resolutions were passed which pledged that the Association continue its efforts “until the unjust discrimination with regard to voting is swept away...” The event was considered a rousing success and laid the early paving stones of the path in Maine for a woman's right to vote.


Day, Lucy H.; Bates, Helen N.; and Anthoine, Sara P., "Historical Sketch of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association" (2018). League of Women Voters Mrs Wing's Scrapbook 69.129.2. 101.

"Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921," database with images, FamilySearch( : 13 March 2018), Adelaide Emerson, 16 Jan 1918; citing Ellsworth, Hancock, Maine, United States, Division of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health, Augusta; FHL microfilm.

Risk, Shannon M., ""In Order to Establish Justice": The Nineteenth-Century Woman Suffrage Movements of Maine and New Brunswick" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 181.

History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III. Chapter XXXIV, Maine [LINK]

"United States Census, 1870, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 15 January 2019), Adelade K Emerson in household of Homer H Emerson, Ellsworth city Ward 1-2, Hancock, Maine, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 54, sheet 18A, family 433, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,593.

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