Biographical Sketch of Florence Fraser Stiles

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Florence Fraser Stiles, 1874-1937

By Piper Cumbo, Librarian, Roanoke College

Florence Fraser Stiles was born in October 25, 1874 in Washington, D.C. to Charles Callender Stiles and Emma Wiggins. Her father moved the family from Boston two years prior to her birth, and she resided in Washington, D.C. until January 5, 1937 when she died of pneumonia in her residence at the Roosevelt Hotel. She never married nor had children, but lived near and with her family in the District until her death.

Ms. Stiles attended Columbia University, likely Columbia Teachers College, and she was listed as a graduate in her obituary but it is unclear on the date. After college, she became a member, vice president and eventually president of the College Equal Suffrage League, as well as other National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) affiliated groups, such as the Woman Suffrage Council. In 1913, as the College Equal Suffrage League vice president, she co-led a movement to put the accounts and achievements of women in public school textbooks. While president of the League, she organized and participated in many street meetings during the closing years of the women's suffrage campaign.

In numerous articles from the years 1913-1925, Ms. Stiles is mentioned for her work in various organizations, all related to the suffrage cause. She was instrumental in fundraising endeavors like rummage sales and teas for most of these organizations.

It was through the NAWSA that Florence Stiles became involved in the Women's City Club. Upon becoming a member of the Women's City Club in 1921, she was selected to be a member of the Finance Committee and in 1922 she was elected Treasurer for a one year term. During her term, the Women's City Club saw a surplus and balanced budget for the first time since it was established in 1919. Ms. Stiles implemented the development, organization, and creation of a club bulletin that was shared with sister organizations across the country and collected a fee from sponsors for notices in the bulletin. She also oversaw an increase in membership fees and ticket sales to events such as concerts, dances, and teas that the club sponsored. When her tenure was up, the president of the Club at the time, Mrs. Swormstedt, praised Ms. Stiles's commitment to detail and replenishment of the Club's finances and called her reports a "marvel of accurate accounting."

In honor of her hard work for women's suffrage, she was listed as one of the 63 women invited to President Harding's inauguration on March 4, 1921.

Ms. Stiles worked tirelessly, not only for the vote but for more playgrounds for children, the abolition of capital punishment, and other social service issues for those that lived in the District. She was named a board member to the Women's City Club in 1925 and continued to be involved in the organization until the day she died.

Ms. Stiles was known for her meticulous attention to detail, a legacy distilled in her from her grandfather's and father's work in newspapers as editors. For 28 years she was a proofreader and assistant editor at Carnegie Institution, Washington, which provided groups with funds for scientific research and published scientific papers.

Sources:

The Evening Star, Washington D.C. Tuesday, January 6, 1937, accessed December 2018;The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, October 21, 1915, accessed December 2018; The Washington Post, July 2, 1916, accessed December 2018; The Washington Post, October 21, 1913, accessed December 2018; The Washington Post, May 7, 1914, accessed December 2018; The Washington Times, Tuesday, October 19, 1915, accessed December 2018; The Sunday Star, December 19, 1915, accessed December 2018;The Washington Times, Feb 13, 1915, accessed December 2018;The Washington Herald, April 30, 1915, accessed December 2018; The Washington Post, December 31, 1916, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, Saturday, Feb 12, 1916, Pt. 1, Page 5, accessed December 2018; The Washington Times, March 1, 1917, Page 10, accessed December 2018; The Washington Herald, July 10, 1917, p. 3, accessed December 2018; The Washington Times, Jan 7, 1921, page 11, accessed December 2018; The Washington Times, May 6, 1921, p. 21, accessed December 2018; The Washington Times, July 28, 1921, p. 3, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, July 28, 1921, p. 5, accessed December 2018; The Washington Herald, July 31, 1921, p. 5, accessed December 2018; The Washington Herald, June 19, 1922, p. 5, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, Oct. 5, 1922, p. 2, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, Oct. 2, 1923, p.5, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, Jan. 2, 1924, p. 10, accessed December 2018; The Evening Star, Feb. 5, 1924, p. 14, accessed December 2018; The Sunday Star, Jan. 3, 1926, p. 7, accessed December 2018; The Washington Herald, December 25, 1920, accessed December 2018; Harper, Ida Husted, - [Editor], and Anthony, Susan B. , - [Editor]. The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume IV. 2009, accessed December 2018, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30051?msg=welcome_stranger. Records of the Women's City Club, 1919-1982, District of Columbia Public Library, accessed July 12, 2019.

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