Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Alma Frances Riedel Sievers, 1874-1937
By Jessa Lydon, student-researcher, University of Montana
Suffragist, prison reformer, clubwoman
Alma Frances Riedel was born on May 12, 1874 in New York City, New York. Her parents were Bertha Hoffman Riedel and Dr. Emil Riedel. Her father was born in Germany; although her mother was born in New York City, she was of Swiss lineage. She married Dr. John Rudolph Emile Sievers, known as Dr. J. R. E. Sievers, in New York City on April 26, 1899. The couple then moved to Butte, Montana for Dr. Sievers's medical practice. They had two children: a daughter, Ruth Ethel, born on January 31, 1900, and a son, Arthur Rudolph, born on December 21, 1902.
Sievers was active in the Montana women's suffrage movement; on June 28, 1913, she attended a meeting in Livingston, Montana that appointed Jeanette Rankin as the President of the Montana Equal Suffrage State Central Committee, an affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. At this meeting Rankin first discussed plans to host meetings from city to city on her way to Washington D.C., gathering signatures and supporters along the way. The new state suffrage organization chose Butte as the place for the next meeting, held in September 1913. Sievers was one of the key speakers at the Butte rally. Montana adopted woman suffrage the following year, in 1914.
After the successful conclusion of the state suffrage movement, Sievers remained active in political reform. She worked closely with Governor Joseph M. Dixon and was appointed as a member of the state board of charities and reforms on June 6, 1921. She worked extensively on the Deer Lodge Penitentiary reform in order to expose the poor conditions of the facility while discussing actions to improve them. The prison was plagued with overcrowding, deteriorating structures, and an increasing population. Sievers was responsible for delivering meeting minutes to the governor on this topic.
In her later years, Alma Sievers continued to stay involved and up to date on issues throughout the state. She was a member of the Montana Federation of Women's Clubs, the state affiliate of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and attended meetings to discuss legislations and politics. In January of 1931 she gave a talk in Boulder, Montana about state referendum 35, which related to funding for the construction of the Montana highway system
On January 18, 1937, Sievers died in Butte, Montana, where she had lived for the past thirty-eight years. Although her death certificate listed her occupation as a “housewife,” she spent her life in the state of Montana dedicated to the suffrage movement and Progressive reform. She is buried at the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Silver Bow County.
“County Clubs at Boulder,” The Montana Woman, A Montana Magazine for Montana Women. January 1931, Vol. VII, No. 4, p. 18. Montana Memory Project,
Findagrave.com: Alma Francis Sievers.
“Montana Suffragists Elect Missoula Woman President,” The Daily Missoulian. June 28, 1913, p. 1
“Prison Scandal Growing,” The Mineral Independent. August 24, 1922, p. 1 Sanders, Helen Fitzgerald. A History of Montana, Vol. III (Chicago, New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913) p. 1576, 1577. Montana Memory Project,
“The State,” The Mineral Independent. June 9, 1921, p. 7
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, and Susan B. Anthony, The Suffragettes-Complete History of the Movement (e-artnow, 2017), pg. 365, Google Books
U.S. Census, Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana, 1920, Ancestry.com.