Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1898-1920
Biography of Cornelia C. Hussey, 1827-1902
By Melissa Ziobro, Specialist Professor of Public History, Monmouth University
Vice President of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association
Cornelia Collins Hussey was born in New York City on July 7, 1827 into a family which had been, for many generations, members of the Society of Friends. Like many Quakers, Cornelia was an avowed abolitionist and a pacifist. These were not creeds to which she merely gave lip service. For example, as a young adult, she was one of the managers of the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York, and later in life she became a dedicated supporter of the Universal Peace Union.
Cornelia married William H. Hussey of New Bedford on April 16, 1851, in New York City. The couple settled in the Orange, NJ, area, and had three children: Mary, Frederick, and George. Pillars of the community, the couple hosted salons and donated to many charitable organizations. For example, Cornelia was one of the fourteen original members of the Woman's Club of Orange, started in 1871. Some of her many other patronages included the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the American Purity Alliance, and the New Jersey Legal Aid Association.
As her children matured, Cornelia took a more active interest in women's suffrage, holding various roles in state and national suffrage organizations. She became Vice President of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association in 1882, and a member of the executive committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1887. Though she gave speeches and published articles in support of suffrage, she often said that speaking and writing were not her real talents. Instead, she claimed, she had a talent for raising money, and therefore that was her primary focus.
Cornelia worked on the controversial, but best-selling book, The Woman's Bible. The drive to create the book was spearheaded by suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton wanted to create, “a Woman's Bible, [so] that we might have women's commentaries on women's position in the Old and New Testaments.”
Cornelia died on October 13, 1902, of a stroke. She had been failing in health for some time, though her daughter reported that her spirits were high until the end. Though living at 142 North Arlington Avenue in East Orange at the time, she passed away while visiting Connecticut. She was survived by her husband and three children. The Universal Peace Union said in memoriam, “her life stands out as one of the foremost characters of our time in her deeds of mercy, her generous aid, and her untiring and unselfish devotion to the welfare of humanity.”
Upon her death, it was widely reported that Cornelia made one last charitable donation, bequeathing $10,000 to the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Her activist legacy also lived on in her daughter Mary, a medical doctor, also committed to the cause of women's suffrage.
Frances Elizabeth Willard and Mary Livermore, editors, A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-Seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life, (Buffalo: Charles Wells Moulton, 1893), pgs. 408-409. https://books.google.com/books/about/A_Woman_of_the_Century.html?id=zXEEAAAAYAAJ
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, editor, The Woman's Bible Vol. I, (New York: European Publishing Company, 1895). https://books.google.com/books?id=g3kEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA3&dq=hussey+%22woman%27s+bible%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj1oN3407jcAhXqw1kKHQ0SDNwQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=hussey%20%22woman's%20bible%22&f=false
“Cornelia Collins Hussey,” The Peacemaker, 21, no. 12 (1902): pgs. 265-267. https://books.google.com/books?id=3XE1AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA265&dq=%22universal+peace+union%22+1902+vol+21+no+12&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiM8r-OsLjcAhWrTt8KHbSFAJsQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=%22universal%20peace%20union%22%201902%20vol%2021%20no%2012&f=false
The Evening Star, “The Woman's Bible,” 24 January 1896, p. 8.
The New York Times, “Obituary Notes,” 15 October 1902, p. 9.
The New York Times, “Died,” 16 October 1902, p. 9.
The New York Times, “Death List of the Week,” 19 October 1902, p. 11.
The New York Times, “Mrs. C. C. Hussey's Bequest,” 3 November 1902, p. 1.
The New York Tribune, “Mrs. Cornelia C. Hussey,” 15 October 1902, p. 9.
The Philadelphia Enquirer, “The Convention Closes,” 3 November 1887, p. 4.
The Richmond Times, (no title), 4 November 1902, p. 4.
The Terre Haute Daily Wabash Express, “Woman Suffrage,” 30 September 1882, p. 1.
The Washington Times, “Business Before Women's Meeting,” 12 February 1904, p. 3.
The Waterbury Democrat, “Things Women Would Like to Know,” 5 December 1902, (no page).
The World, “10,000 in Will for Women's Suffrage,” 7 November 1902, p. 6.
Photo downloaded via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographic Division online