Biographical Sketch of Minerva B. Cushman (Griswold)

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Dr. Minerva B. Cushman (Griswold), 1856-?

By Madeline Saarie, undergraduate, Binghamton University

Minerva B. Cushman was born on June 26th, 1856 or 1857, in New York. Much is unknown about her personal life. She was at one point married to a Mr. Cushman, and they had three daughters: Clara, Bertha, and Marion. Minerva was elected the District Clerk of Lockport, New York, in 1889 at the age of about 33, although it is unclear what she did with this position. Her family resided in Cook County, Illinois, during the 1900 U.S. census. Across the next decade, Minerva and her family moved to Los Angeles, and she was also widowed during this time. In Los Angeles, Minerva decided to pursue a degree in osteopathic medicine. She received a diploma from the Los Angeles College of Osteopathy in June 1907. She then moved to Florida, which is most likely where she met and married her second husband, Albert Griswold.

Dr. Cushman's first recorded suffrage work was to found the Women's Twentieth Century Club (now the Ruskin Women's Club) in 1912. Minerva was very active in these groups, and eventually served as president of the Women's Club of St. Cloud, Florida, from 1917 to 1918. Both groups were very active in civic engagement opportunities and served as a place for women unite politically.

This work allowed for Minerva to gain some local renown, and she was soon serving on the Florida State League of Women voters (also known as the Equal Suffrage Association or League) as a committee chairman of social hygiene. In September of 1918, women in the St. Cloud area were granted suffrage, but they continued to fight for women of the nation.

Dr. Cushman wrote an article for the newspaper in July 1919 arguing why women across the United States should be granted the right to vote. She discussed the disappearance of public and private spheres, and how that should be recognized in the enfranchisement of women. She ended with, "He who denies democracy to women is obstructing one of the greatest factors needed in the reconstruction of the world, and which will not have been adequately attained until women are admitted to suffrage" (Tampa Bay Times, 1919)

In October 1919, Minerva was elected to serve as third vice president of the Florida state board of the Equal Suffrage League. Soon after the election, she gave lessons on "Americanization and Federal Housekeeping" at the city hall. She was very involved in educating Florida citizens on the methods of U.S. government and citizenship, as she led several discussion panels on the topic. Minerva published another article in the Tampa Bay Times in January 1920, again pushing for suffrage for women. When it was finally granted later that year, Dr. Cushman did not back down. Across the next several years, she continued to serve in the Equal Suffrage League, women's clubs, and discussion groups.

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times June, July, Oct, Nov 1919, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Tampa Bay Times 1920, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Tampa Bay Times 1962, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Los Angeles Times 1907, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22.

Abbeville Press and Banner 1889, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22.

Tampa Tribune 1920, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Tampa Times 1912, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Miami News 1922, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Tampa Tribune 1922, "Newspapers.com search." Newspapers.com. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/search/#query=%22minerva cushman%22 .

Fisk, Robert A. "WOMAN'S SUFFRAGE, AIR FIELD, TIMBER, ROADS AND SPANISH FLU." Osceola County Community Newspaper. April 13, 2017. Accessed September 30, 2017. https://scinthenews.com/womans-suffrage-air-field-timber-roads-and-spanish-flu/.

"US Census Data." Mooseroots . Accessed September 30, 2017. http://us-census.mooseroots.com/.

AAOA. "The Journal of Osteopathy." ATSU. 1909. Accessed September 30, 2017. https://www.atsu.edu/museum/subscription/pdfs/jo-1909/thejournalofosteopathynovember1909.pdf.

Horning, Olive. "The Woman's Club of St. Cloud." Www.womansclubofstcloud.com. Accessed September 30, 2017. https://www.womansclubofstcloud.com/past-presidents.

Some information was located in the non-digitalized documents of the Woman's Club of St. Cloud, Florida.

Note: It is unclear whether or not the Minerva Cushman in Lockport, NY was the same Dr. Minerva B. Cushman in this sketch. However, Dr. Cushman was born in New York, and was all for the idea of women holding official positions, so I accepted this link. A death date is not available.

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