Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Eliza MacDonald, 1845-1937

By Alexandra DeVito, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

President of the Flushing Equal Franchise Association

Eliza MacDonald was born in 1845 in Flushing, Queens to Eliza Harris Miller MacDonald and James E MacDonald M.D.. Eliza's father, originally from Scotland, attended the College of Physicians in New York where he specialized in the treatment of people with mental disorders. Eliza had three siblings: Flora, James, and Anna. Eliza did not marry and had no children.

Eliza's family had significant influence in the Queens, New York area. Her family purchased quite extensive property in Flushing, extending from the Flushing River on the west to Parsons Boulevard on the east, and from Sanford Avenue on the North to what is today Kissena Corridor Park on the South. Here, Eliza's brother and father established an insane asylum for the wealthy at Sanford Hall.

In 1909, MacDonald helped organize the Flushing Equal Franchise Association, which she served as President in 1913. By 1915 she was involved with the New York Woman Suffrage Party but left the Queens County division of the organization to form a separate Queens-based group, the Woman's Suffrage Central Campaign Committee which elected her its president. By 1916, the two groups had been reunited, the president of the other rival Queens organization had been voted out, and MacDonald was elected to serve as the Vice President of the united Queens Borough branch. One of the most noteworthy successes of this branch that year was its “Better Baby Campaign” which recruited 4 volunteer nurses and 7 physicians and gathered over 300 children across Queens who did not otherwise have access to health care to receive free vaccinations and physicals. In 1917 she returned to serve as the branch's director. Also in 1917, MacDonald worked as a member of the War Service Committee of the Woman Suffrage Party of New York City.

In addition to her suffrage activism, MacDonald engaged in community philanthropy. She helped to form the New York Federation of Women's Clubs, serving as its Vice President in 1898. She also was the founder and first president of the Good Citizenship League of Flushing, created around 1892. At the time of MacDonald's death in 1937, she was listed as the honorary president of the organization, which boasted over 500 women as members.

In her lifetime, the greater area of Flushing acknowledged her work. After the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, the Women's Civic Club of Flushing recognized MacDonald by giving her a silver gavel engraved: “To our beloved pioneer, Eliza MacDonald, Suffrage Victory 1920.” In 1925 a tree was planted in Central Park in her honor. In addition, the Flushing Good Citizen's League placed a plaque in their headquarters recognizing MacDonald, a four-time organization President, for “her notable achievements in the cause of suffrage, civics and philanthropy.”

Eliza MacDonald died at 91 of a heart attack on February 3, 1937, at her home in Flushing, Queens. Her grave is located in Flushing Cemetery.


"Women Meet in Harmony." New York Times (1857-1922): 12. Nov 03 1898. ProQuest. Web. 30 Mar. 2018 .

"Suffrage Workers Split." New York Times (1857-1922): 7. Jul 12 1915. ProQuest. Web. 30 Mar. 2018 .

"Mrs. Eno is Outvoted." New York Times (1857-1922): 22. Jan 19 1916. ProQuest. Web. 30 Mar. 2018 .

"Suffragists Name District Leaders.“ New York Times (1857-1922): 6. Dec 05 1917. ProQuest. Web. 30 Mar. 2018 .

"Eliza M'Donald, , 91, Club Leader, Dead." New York Times (1923-Current file): 21. Feb 04 1937. ProQuest. Web. 30 Mar. 2018 .

“Eliza MacDonald (1845-1937) - Find A Grave...” Find A Grave, 9 Apr. 2013,

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 12, 1920 · Page 3.

“Suffragists Elect Officers.” The Daily Long Island Farmer, 1. Jan 17 1917.,

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 12, 1920 · Page 3.”

“Other Suffrage Organization,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac: A Book of Information, General of the World, and Special of New York City and Long Island, vol. 28, no. 1, 1913,”

The Woman Voter, vol. VII, no. 6, June, 1916, Florence Woolston, ed., The Woman Suffrage Party of New York City.

The Woman Voter, vol. VII, no. 2, February 1917, Florence Woolston, ed., The Woman Suffrage Party of New York City.

The Woman Voter, vol. VIII, no. 4, April 1917, Florence Woolston, ed., The Woman Suffrage Party of New York City.

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