Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary B. Kinsley, 1862-1923
By Marwah Waheed, SUNY Old Westbury, New York. Faculty Sponsor, Carol Quirke
Secretary of Women's Federation Committee, 1904; Auditor, New Jersey Women's Suffrage Association, 1904, 1907-1908, 1910-1911
Mary B. Kinsley was born in 1862 in New York to white parents, a father from Massachusetts and a mother from Canada. She married Michael H. Kinsley in 1891. Her husband's parents were of Irish descent. Census records do not indicate whether they had children. The 1910 census states she had been married for 19 years to her husband, and that she was a boarder on Hudson Street, Hoboken Ward 2, Hudson, New Jersey. Her husband, Michael was a school superintendent. Mary B. Kinsley died in 1923.
Kinsley became active in the Women's Club movement and in the Suffrage movement in the early 1900s. On October 31, 1901, at the annual meeting of the State Federation of Women's Clubs, Kinsley was elected a board member. At that meeting the president, Mrs. Stewart Hartshorn, rejected the drawing of a color line by the General Federation of Women's Clubs. “The General Federation was not only meant to be national, but international. If it remains an international body the race question can have no place in it.” Kinsley remained active in Women's Federation Committee. In Newark, on October 31, 1904, she was elected unanimously, despite opposition, as a corresponding director for the following year. The New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs was an organization which provided opportunities for education, particularly community service. At the Federation of Women's Club Committee meeting, Mrs. Kinsley talked about forestry and household economics. Also, as corresponding secretary, Kinsley petitioned New Jersey's Senator Kean to push for passage of a bill for pure food according to the Perth Amboy Evening News, so her interests were wide ranging.
Kinsley worked with other associations. She was the Legal Aid Association of New Jersey's elected secretary. The association assisted individuals by providing legal protection to those who could not assist themselves. The Bridgewater Courier News indicates that in 1911, Kinsley was also the County Chairman of Enrollment and Attendance for the New Jersey Conference of Charities and Corrections. This is the organization that famed photographer Lewis Hine worked for—it was committed to addressing poverty and bad working conditions, particularly for children. Additionally, she served on the Executive Committee of the National Consumers' League of New Jersey in 1909, according to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Previously Kinsley was a member of the Women's Literary Club of Arlington, NJ, a critical building block of suffrage in New Jersey, and served as its president in 1900, according to the New York Tribune. Kinsley attended the annual state convention of the New Jersey Women's Suffrage Association. In 1904, Kinsley was elected as an auditor for Hoboken in the State Women's Suffrage Convention (NJWSA). These conventions happened every year; Kinsley was also elected in the years of 1907, 1908, 1910, and1911 according to the Bridgewater Courier News. At the convention, they discussed police matrons, school cities, and studied about lives of the pioneers, the constitution and laws of the state. In November 1910, the Bridgewater Courier News reported about Kinsley's work as author of a revised constitution and bylaws for the NJWSA. She was also active with the New Jersey branch of the Equal Franchise Society; Kinsley argued before the 1910 NJWSA convention, according to the Bridgewater Evening Courier that despite divergent strategies, that two suffrage organizations, with many leaders, were a positive good. The Equal Franchise Society encompassed elite women's club members, many of whom were distrustful of more radical strategies such as picketing. The Equal Franchise Society was disbanded by 1915 however, according to the History of Woman Suffrage.
“Among Women's Organizations,” Trenton Evening Times, February 01, 1908, p. 10.
Anthony, Susan B. and Ida Husted Harper, History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1883-1900), (Rochester, N.Y., 1902).
Bridgewater Courier-News, April 1, 1911, p. 6.
“Busy Morning for Suffragist,” Bridgewater Courier News, November 02, 1910, p. 3.
“Congressman Howell Introduced Bill.” Perth Amboy Evening News, December 06, 1905, p.1.
MacDougall, A W., Resources For Social Service, Charitable, Civic, Educational, Religious, Of Newark, New Jersey: ... A Classified And Descriptive Directory.
“New Jersey Next, Founding Feminists: October 15, 1915,” Feminist Majority Foundation Blog at https://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2013/10/15/founding-feminists-october-15-1915/
New Jersey State Census, 1905. Hoboken, Hudson County.
“New Officers for Women's Federation,” Trenton Times, October 31, 1904, p. 3.
“Sea Girt Woman is Prominent Suffragist,” Asbury Park Press, November 4, 1910, p. 2.
“State Suffrage Annual Meeting,” The Courier [New Jersey] News, November 01, 1910, p. 10.
“State Woman Suffrage Convention Chooses Officers for the Coming Year,” Bridgewater Courier-News, November 21, 1908.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth census of the United States, 1910-Population. Ancestry.com website.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Twelfth census of the United States, 1900-Population. Ancestry.com website.
“Welcomed at Arlington,” New York Tribune, January 24, 1900.
“Women Balk on Color Line.” NewspaperArchive.com, Trenton Times, November 01, 1901, p.1.
“Women Sound the Governor,” Bridgewater Courier-News, November 6. 1911, 1.
“Women's Federation Meets in Newark.” NewspaperArchive.com, Trenton Times, October 29, 1904, p.1.
“The Work of the National Consumers League During the Year Ending March 1, 1910,” Annals of the American Academy. 36 (July-December 1910): 64.