Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Alice Locke Park, 1861-1961

By Sherry J. Katz, Department of History, San Francisco State University

Officer and Executive Board Member, California Equal Suffrage Association, 1903-1911 (served in a variety of positions, including head of Literature Committee)
President, Votes for Women Club of Palo Alto, 1909-1910
Literature Committee Chair, Santa Clara County Woman Suffrage Association, 1909[-1911?]
Literature Committee Chair, Political Equality League of California, 1910
Associate Editor, Western Woman Voter, 1911 [-1913?]
Correspondent, Woman's Journal (organ of NAWSA)
Head of Literature Effort, Arizona Suffrage Amendment Campaign, 1912
Organizer, Nevada Suffrage Amendment Campaign, 1913
Organizer, Iowa Suffrage Campaign, 1916
Leader of California Branch of National Woman's Party, 1916-

Alice Elizabeth Locke was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 2, 1861, to John G. Locke, a lawyer, and Harriet Brown Pinkham Locke. Through her mother's family, Locke was related to Quaker abolitionist and feminist Lucretia Mott. Locke's father died in 1869, her mother died 5 years later, and an aunt and uncle raised her during her teen years. Locke graduated from the Rhode Island Normal School at age 18 and taught grammar school for 4 years. Offered a scholarship to Smith College, Locke was unfortunately unable to attend. In 1884, at age 23, Locke married Dean W. Park, a graduate of MIT in chemistry and metallurgy. Because of his work as a mining chemist, the couple lived from 1884 to 1902 in (mostly isolated) mining regions of the U.S. West and Mexico, before settling in San Francisco in 1902 and Palo Alto in 1906. Park had two children, Carl, born in 1895, and Harriet, born in 1897; both graduated from Stanford University. After her marriage, much of Park's work as a writer, political organizer, and librarian was unpaid, although a few close friends funded some of her activities. Park was widowed in 1909 when her husband died after a bicycle accident. Park died on October 17, 1961 in Santa Clara, California.

Park's "deepest interest and enthusiasm" was feminism, and she possessed a "strong impulse to help all women" achieve emancipation and equality. Park recalled in 1925 that her feminist identification began when she was 14 and noticed a pay differential among her teachers based on gender. A mentor teacher, Dr. Martha Mowry, nurtured her interest in feminism and suffrage in the late 1870s, and Park attended her first suffrage conventions in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1877 and 1879. Mowry also introduced Park to the Woman's Journal, a major suffrage movement periodical, in 1879. In 1894, Park joined the transnational women's movement and, in 1913, she began regularly attending international conferences. Park became a socialist, and trade union supporter in the mid-1890s. Her socialist-feminist identity solidified in 1902 when she met like-minded women in San Francisco. But Park remained independent and generally did not join left-feminist organizations (or the Socialist Party) until the World War I period, although she frequently voted for socialist candidates. She became, however, a key member of the influential network of socialist-feminists in Progressive Era California that sought to bring activist women together across lines of difference and facilitate feminist coalition building. Park, and her socialist-feminist colleagues, formulated a broad program for women's emancipation that included women's suffrage, female unionization, protective labor legislation, mothers' pensions, legal contraception, and the gender integration of political parties and the state. They also championed women's economic independence as central to the feminist project. A committed pacifist after 1898, Park participated in left-feminist peace organizations, including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Park's sustained suffrage activism began in 1902, with her move to San Francisco, where she discovered suffrage organizations (missing from the hinterlands) to join. From 1903 to 1911, Park served as an officer and board member of California's state affiliate of the NAWSA, the California Equal Suffrage Association, often as auditor and recording secretary. Her major contribution, however, was in the field of literature and she frequently headed the Literature and Printing Committee of the CESA. Park developed most of the official CESA literature, posters, and consumer novelties for the successful 1911 campaign. Interested in reaching all groups of Californians with the suffrage message, Park's propaganda combined gender equality, gender difference, and interest group arguments for the vote. She focused on reaching the working class, and a number of leaflets and flyers stressed why wage-earning women, in particular, needed the vote. She also produced, beginning in 1906, literature that detailed organizational and partisan support for the vote, including endorsements of the Socialist Party and labor organizations (and she printed all suffrage materials in union shops). A number of historians believe that Park played a critical role in modernizing suffrage messaging across the United States, as she pioneered the use of bold type, brief and clear texts, images and maps, and bright color. Park recalled that her 1911 literature was considered "the best any state had" up to that point and was "imitated by other states" and by NAWSA. Park, in fact, helped to assemble an extensive collection of California materials for display at the NAWSA convention in 1912. Additionally, Park advocated the use of militant methods of suffrage agitation that placed women into public space in relatively new ways – including the street speaking and outdoor meetings introduced in California largely by Park's socialist-feminist colleagues. Park excitedly reported in September 1911 that many suffragists were engaging in street speaking who had "no idea three months ago they would ever do such a thing." After 1911, as Park worked for suffrage in Arizona (1912), Nevada (1913), and Iowa (1916), she encouraged spectacle wherever she went and helped adapt the California literature she had "invented." One CESA leader referred to Park as one of the suffrage movement's "most indefatigable workers."

Park also played an instrumental role in the archiving of suffrage materials. With her "appreciation of literature," she saved most California materials systematically and continued to collect suffrage literature, buttons, and badges from all over the world for four decades after 1911. Park began to deposit suffrage movement materials in archives as early as 1918 and some of her personal papers went to the Huntington Library in the 1930s. In 1941, Park, with the assistance of Una Richardson Winter, donated a broad collection of suffrage materials named for Susan B. Anthony (and featuring many items from the California campaign) to the Los Angeles Pubic Library (that later moved to the Huntington).


Anthony, Susan B. Memorial Collection [ephemera]. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

DuBois, Ellen and Karen Kearns. Votes for Women: A 75th Anniversary Album. San Marino, California: Huntington Library, 1995.

DuBois, Ellen Carol. "Making Women's History: Historian-Activists of Women's Rights, 1880-1940." Radical History Review 49 (1991). Reprinted in Woman's Suffrage and Women's Rights, edited by Ellen Carol DuBois, 210-238. New York: New York University Press, 1998.

Finnegan, Margaret. Selling Suffrage: Consumer Culture and Votes for Women. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Katz, Sherry J. "A Politics of Coalition: Socialist Women and the California Suffrage Movement, 1900-1911." In One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, 245-262. Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995.

Katz, Sherry Jeanne. "Dual Commitments: Feminism, Socialism, and Women's Political Activism in California, 1890-1920." PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1991.

Katz, Sherry J. "Excavating Radical Women in Progressive Era California." In Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, edited by Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry, 89-106. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840-1911. Accessed July 12, 2019.

Park, Alice Locke. "Autobiography of Alice Locke Park." [n.d.] Alice Locke Park Collection. Huntington Library, San Marino, California. See entire collection for much more material on Park.

Park, Alice Locke. Letter to her children, November 14, 1925. Alice Locke Park Collection. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Park, Alice Locke. Letter to Mary McHenry Keith, October 18, 1934. Alice Locke Park Collection. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Park, Alice Locke. Letter to Sarah J. Eddy, December 3, 1918. Alice Locke Park Collection. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Park, Alice. "The California Campaign." Western Woman Voter 1 (Oct.-Nov. 1911), 5.

State of California Department of Health Services. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Accessed July 12, 2019.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. South Coulterville, Mariposa, California; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0034; FHL microfilm: 1240093. Accessed July 12, 2019.

Watson, Elizabeth Lowe. Letter to Jennie McBean, June 29, 1910. Keith-McHenry-Pond Family Papers. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California.

Winter, Una R., ed. Alice Park of California, Worker for Woman Suffrage and Children's Rights. Upland, California: [n.p.], 1948. Alice Park Collection. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

For more information and primary sources on/by Park consult my dissertation and articles.

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