Biographical Sketch of Mary A. Maguire

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Mary A. Maguire, 1873-1938

By Alexis Wolfinbarger, University of Missouri

Mary A. Maguire (sometimes spelled McGuire) was born in November of 1873 in St. Louis, Missouri to Bernard and Mary Maguire. The 1880 census lists Mary as born to Irish immigrants, and having a brother, John C. Maguire. By 1900, Mary, now twenty-six, was living as a boarder while working as a stenographer. In 1920, Maguire was single at forty-five, living as a lodger, and working in the law industry as a stenographer. She died in 1938, at sixty-five, and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery.

In 1908, Mary A. Maguire was one of the first five women admitted to the Saint Louis University Law School. She graduated in 1911 with a Bachelor of Laws. Although she had a law degree, Mary was listed as a stenographer in the censuses before and after her time at law school. She transcribed speech into written form to produce transcripts of court hearings. The 1912 Saint Louis Post Dispatch stated that nineteen women in Saint Louis were admitted to the bar but noted that only two of the nineteen were practicing and the majority of the others were law stenographers. Mary may have been a stenographer, instead of practicing law, because of the Bradwell v. Illinois case. Myra Bradwell sued Illinois for denying her right to practice law under the Fourteenth Amendment, referring to citizenship rights for all, such as occupations. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to choose one's profession was not established as one of the privileges for females. This denial of women to practice law was based on ideas of traditional gender roles.

On April 16, 1912, about sixty businesswomen interested in woman suffrage, met to discuss the organization of a business women's suffrage club with the objective of securing suffrage for women in Missouri. This club became known as the Business Women's Equal Suffrage League and went into action on the day it was formed by visiting a Milliner's Convention that was meeting in St. Louis. The women shared suffrage ideas and distributed hats. In May, at the League's third meeting, Mary was elected president. Membership in the League grew from 50 to 250 women. The women of this league held street meetings and visited the county fair, where they made speeches from decorated automobiles.

Sources:

Cribbs, Deborah. Saint Louis University History: Frequently Asked Questions. Saint Louis University History. St. Louis University. http://libguides.slu.edu/c.php?g=210954&p=1392213 Go to “Women at SLU and when there, scroll to 1911 for information on Mary Maguire.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com), memorial page for Mary Anastasia Maguire (unknown–May 1938), Find A Grave Memorial no. 47608932, citing Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by T.V.F.T.H. (contributor 46496806).

Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Women's Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.” ThoughtCo. June 12 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/womens-rights-and-the-fourteenth-amendment-3529473;

Missouri. St. Louis City. 1880 U.S. census population schedule. Digital image. HeritageQuest Online.

Missouri. St. Louis City. 1900 U.S. census population schedule. Digital image, HeritageQuest.

Missouri. St. Louis City. 1920 U.S. census population schedule, HeritageQuest.

Weigle, Florence E. “St. Louis Business Women's Suffrage League.” Missouri Historical Review, vol. 14 (1920), p. 384. https://archive.org/details/missourihistoric14missuoft

Women Lawyers Who Organize Club That Will Discuss Suffrage, Civics and Like, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 18 1912, https://search.proquest.com/docview/579918098/63D6140BDBE24A91PQ/77?accountid=14576

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