Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary Estelle Burnet Crane (MacGregor), 1893-1967
By Melanie Thomas, Librarian, Mississippi State University, Meridian Campus
Mary Estelle Burnet Crane was born May 18, 1893, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Mary Powell Crane of Montgomery, Alabama, and James Burnet Crane, of Philadelphia.
In the early 1910s, while living in Washington, D.C., Estelle Crane, society debutante, enjoyed the limelight at dances, fetes, and receptions. She participated in an extravagant luncheon in which First Lady Helen Taft was in attendance. Miss Crane once participated in a cotillion of women who rode horses along with men of the Young Men's Christian Association in an exhibition to benefit the organization in 1913. This presentation was viewed by President Woodrow Wilson.
Crane's grandfather, Colonel James R. Powell was one of the founders of the city of Birmingham, Alabama. This wealthy planter and landowner retired at Belzoni, Mississippi, and left the family a large cotton plantation when he died. After living in Mississippi only a few years, Crane became involved in local women's efforts. In 1914, she was a member, treasurer, and secretary of the Mississippi Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Mississippi; and she attended the 41st annual National Conference of the WCTU in Atlanta, Georgia, in November 1914. She and Miss Louise Preston organized the Silver City (Mississippi) Young People's Branch of the WCTU on October 15, 1915. Crane also became a suffragist and an active member of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association. She attended the 13th annual convention in April 1917 at The Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Mississippi State University) at Starkville, Mississippi, and was elected treasurer of the MWSA. This noted suffrage worker visited Jackson, Mississippi, November 1915 and North Greenwood, Mississippi in March 1919.
The City Directory shows that during the early 1920s, Crane had relocated to Plainfield, New Jersey, residing at a boarding house with her mother Mary, a widow, age 60. Crane, noted as one of the suffrage organization's youngest representatives, was an alternate delegate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) attending the Swiss Association of Woman Suffrage Congress at Geneva, Switzerland, in June 1920. Crane was a charter member of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, formerly known as the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, April 23, 1920. She attended the annual convention at Chicago and earned a certificate for completing the political education course at the Carrie Chapman Catt School of Citizenship, which was offered at the end of the convention. This enabled her to assist in establishing a citizenship school at Newark, New Jersey, and other schools throughout the state.
Crane married Fergus Gibson MacGregor on May 4, 1923, in Montreux, Switzerland. Afterward, she emigrated to England, where she and her husband resided. She died May 4, 1967, at Hampstead, England, of acute pneumonia at age 73 and was cremated.
Blackwell, Alice Stone. “The I.W.S.A. Meeting.” The Woman Citizen, April 7, 1920, Vol IV (39), p. 1134. Retrieved from google books.
Crane, Mary Powell. The Life of James R. Powell. Brooklyn, New York, 1930.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 333. [LINK]
“In the World of Society.” Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia), January 30, 1912, p. 8. Retrieved from Newspapers.com.
“Local Suffrage Elections: Mississippi.” The Woman's Journal, May 19, 1917, Vol. 48(20), p. 117. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8824/644acf77a71818cde3305b674289de5a2281.pdf
Forty-First Annual Report, National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, November 12-18, 1914. Retrieved from google bnooks.
Records of the League of Women Voters of Plainfield [1920-1981]. Retrieved from the Plainfield Public Library web site http://www.plainfieldlibrary.info/Departments/LH/FindingAids/LWV.html#IDAD0SN
“Society Attends a Banquet.” The Washington Post, March 29, 1913, p. 7. Retrieved from Newspapers.com.
“The World Congress.” The Woman Citizen. April 24, 1920, Vol IV (40), p. 1168. Retrieved from google books.
U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
“Y.P.B. Corner.” The Yazoo Herald. November 5, 1915, p. 7. Retrieved from Newspapers.com.
Photo courtesy of the descendants of Mary Estelle Crane MacGregor
Passport photos found on Ancestry.com