Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Eliza Wright Osborne, 1829-1911
By Cathrena Collins, undergraduate student, State University of New York at Binghamton
Member of a prominent suffragist family and Vice President of the New York Woman Suffrage Association
Eliza Wright Osborne was born on September 3, 1829 in Aurora, New York. Her parents were Martha Coffin Wright and David Wright. Eliza was their first of five children which included Tallman, Ellen, William, and Francis. In 1851, Ms. Wright married David Munson Osborne, a farm machinery manufacturer and together they had four children: Florence, Emily, Thomas, and Helen. Mrs. Osborne was born into a family of suffragists. Her mother, Martha Coffin Wright, along with her aunt Lucretia Mott, were among the suffragists who organized the first women's suffrage convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Additionally, Mrs. Osborne's sister, Ellen Wright Garrison was a prominent advocate for women's rights as was her husband William Lloyd Garrison Jr. Along with their suffragist views, the Wrights also descended from Quakers and incorporated some tenets such as simplicity and equality into their lifestyles.
Mrs. Osborne continued her suffrage legacy by holding a variety of leadership positions such as an auditor for the New York State Woman Suffrage Association and the first vice president of the Cayuga County Political Equality Club. Cayuga County Political Equality Club was comprised of men and women who worked to petition for a woman's right to vote. Through the efforts of this club, laws were passed in Cayuga county which allowed for women to inherit land and share joint custody of their children. Mrs. Osborne often held New York State Woman Suffrage Association meetings in the parlor of her home. The Association held their largest convention, the State Convention, in Auburn, New York from October 17th to 20th, 1901. This convention was held in Mrs. Osborne's music hall complete with a stage and room for the delegates. Later that evening she held a reception which was attended by more than 200 delegates including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Mrs. Osborne provided the headquarters for the convention as well as housed many of the visiting suffragists. Perhaps Mrs. Osborne's most notable role was her part in founding the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Auburn, New York, in 1882. This institute was based off a well-established settlement house of the same name in Boston. The Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Auburn held a variety of classes such as sewing, cooking, and later language and literature in order to help women learn.
Mrs. Osborne's name is featured on the State rolls of honor which has the names of 297 other women who aided in the suffragist movement. The New York Times described Mrs. Osborne's mention as an honor by her state “for distinguished citizenship achievements.” Mrs. Osborne's name is amongst other prominent New York suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt.
Mrs. Osborne passed away on July 18th , 1911 in her Auburn, New York home surrounded by her children. Many of her children chose to also lead a life of activism such as her daughter, Helen, who worked for the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Thomas, who became an Auburn mayor and staunch supporter for women's rights.
Newspaper clippings from the New York Times following Mrs. Osborne's death in 1911.http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/h?ammem/rbcmillerbib:@field(DOCID+@lit(rbcmiller002882))
Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911. Accessed September 27, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbcmil&fileName=scrp5002901%2Frbcmilscrp5002901.db&recNum=2&itemLink=D%3Frbcmillerbib%3A6%3A.%2Ftemp%2F~ammem_dgI4%3A%3A.
American Memory from the Library of Congress - Home Page. Accessed September 27, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/h?ammem%2Frbcmillerbib%3A%40field%28DOCID%2B%40lit%28rbcmiller002882%29%29.
"New York Suffrage Newsletter." The Library of Congress. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbcmil.scrp2000602/?sp=5.
"Tribute to Suffrage Leader: Memorial Services at Auburn, N.Y., to the Late Eliza Wright Osborne." The New York Times. Accessed September 26, 2017. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1911/10/16/104839607.html?login=email&pageNumber=9.
"Women Will Unveil Honor Roll Tablets: Voters' League's National and State Lists at Capital Will Include 79 New Yorkers." The New York Times. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1931/03/26/98327412.html?pageNumber=5.