Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Rubyn (Mrs. W.F.) Ogburn, 1885-1965

By Kami Horton, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rubyn (nee Reynolds) Ogburn was born September 30, 1885 in Rome, Georgia to parents John Hughes Reynolds (1846 – 1924) and Mary (née Turnley) Reynolds (1845 – 1930).

At the age of seventeen, she attended the Lucy Cobb boarding school for girls in Athens, Georgia. She write in her memoir As I Remember Them that she wanted to be an actress and studied Shakespeare, but her family did not support her ideas. After two years at boarding school, she toured Europe and spent time in New York, where she recounts being told to put out her cigarette because ladies were forbidden to smoke.

While in New York she met Sociology student William Fielding Ogburn. The two were married on September 10, 1910, at her family home in Rome, Georgia. According to her memoir she had the word ‘obey' omitted from the wedding ceremony.

The couple had two children, Howard Reynold Ogburn born April 13, 1912 (d. 1949) and William Fielding Obgurn Jr., born August 20, 1919 (d.2001).

In 1912, William graduated with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. That same year, the family moved to Portland, Oregon where William was appointed Professor of Sociology and Economics at Reed College. The family remained in Portland for five years.

In her memoir, Rubyn describes her parents as supporters of woman's suffrage. She recalls her mother being impressed after hearing national suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt speak, and being encouraged by the suffragists' work. In Portland, Rubyn was actively involved in organizations to promote national woman's suffrage. Newspaper articles from the time report she was active with many community groups and was a regularly featured speaker at meetings in Oregon and across the Northwest.

She was President of the Oregon Equal Suffrage Alliance, the Oregon branch of the National Suffrage Alliance. It worked for the passage of the federal woman's suffrage amendment. Newspaper articles refer to her in this time-period as Mrs. W.F. Ogburn and notices in the Oregonian throughout 1916-1917 have her presiding and speaking at several suffrage events, including monthly Oregon Equal Suffrage Alliance meetings at the University Club.

In addition to supporting woman's suffrage, the Alliance took part in home-front activities during World War One, including promoting home gardens to increase food supply. Rubyn took part in Speakers Institutes across the state to promote and support the YWCA war effort and helped organize a national YWCA conference in Portland.

Rubyn was also a part of the Woodrow Wilson League, which supported then-President Wilson's re-election, and she was President of the Oregon Consumers League, which promoted a series of reforms in the workplace. During Rubyn's time as President of the Consumers League, it actively endorsed the inspection and regulation of restaurants and food products, supported a Shop Early Campaign to prevent strain on shop workers during the Christmas season, and sponsored Senate Bill 78 which would reduce Oregon women's work week from 60 to 48 hours.

During this time-period, newspaper articles often mention her with her contemporaries, including CES Wood, Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, Mrs. Ben Selling, Sara Evans and others involved in Oregon's progressive movement.

In 1918, the family moved to Seattle where William taught for a year at the University of Washington. The Oregonian noted that Rubyn returned to Portland to participate in speaking engagements for the local YWCA and Consumer League. An Oregonian article dated September 11, 1918 reports she took part in war effort Speakers Institutes in Baker, Redmond, and Roseburg.

In 1919 the family moved again when William became Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, a position he held until 1927. He died April 27, 1959. Rubyn Reynolds Ogburn died December 24, 1965 in Richmond, Virginia.


Ogburn, Rubyn, As I Remember Them, 1949

William Ogburn papers, University of Chicago Library

Ogbourne Chronicles at

Find A Grave at

Historic Oregon Newspapers

back to top