Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Alberta Genicke Droelle, 1876-1946
By Elliott Barrett, independent historian
Mrs. Alberta Droelle was born Alberta Genicke in Michigan in September 1876; her mother was a Michigan native and her father was a German immigrant. She married Frank Droelle of Detroit in 1896. The couple would produce two children, and Mr. Droelle, a family druggist, was the primary breadwinner.
It is possible that Mrs. Droelle came from an upper-middle class background. Her father, Joseph Genicke, was recorded as a constable in the 1880 federal manuscript census. For instance, she could read, write and had travelled across the state of Michigan. During Mrs. Droelle's life, her most notable occupation was as a Treasurer for the Michigan Fraternal Congress. Due to her skills as an accountant, she balanced the budget and as a result she was appointed to a committee in 1916. This was a big deal to the organization, as years past, there had been a depletion of funds. This was due to a worldwide influenza pandemic and The Great War. In 1916, the Michigan Fraternal Congress was working to ensure that families with sick and young men who served in the war were cared for. Equally important, in 1916, the state of Michigan had led all other states in the union in contributions to the Red Cross. The Michigan Fraternal Congress was an insurance group that worked along with other national groups such as the National Fraternal Congress. The purpose of these insurance companies was to help lower and middle-class families in tough times.
Additionally, the early 20th century saw an advancement in women's suffrage; Mrs. Droelle was a significant contributor to the women's rights movements. Specifically, she played a significant role in Detroit, Michigan. During her time as an activist, Mrs. Droelle had a strong role in the Women's Benefit Association, which was the largest women's fraternal society in Michigan. Founded in 1892, today it continues to offer insurance to over 150,000 women and is now known as the Women's Life Insurance Society. The purpose for this organization was for women to not feel trapped or desolate if their spouse died. Not only was she involved with the Women's Benefit Association, she was also involved in the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association, later changing its name to the League of Women Voters, still existing today. Again, due to her skills in accounting, she would also become the treasurer for the Michigan Suffrage Association. Indeed, Mrs. Droelle, and many other women like her, secured the future of the organization that is still in existence today.
Alberta Droelle directed the work of the Women's Benefit Association on behalf of a woman suffrage referendum held in 1918. She was elected as a chairperson for a congressional district during this campaign.The History of Woman Suffreage, vol. 6, had this to say about Droelle's work: "The Women's Benefit Association assumed the responsibility of organizing six congressional districts. They financed their own work entirely, using their own skilled organizers whenever it was necessary, especially in the Upper Peninsula, where no other workers were sent. The story of Mrs. Locke and Mrs. Droelle reads like that of the pioneers in the far western countries. This contribution, if measured in dollars, would have represented many thousands."
Mrs. Alberta Droelle lived a life dedicated serving others. She wanted to ensure better treatment of women in society, and to protect women who lost family members during The Great War and influenza pandemic. Furthermore, her work as a suffragist in Michigan ensured that future woman of the United States would have the right to vote. In 1946, at the age of 70, Mrs. Droelle passed away in Washtenaw, Michigan.
Blackwell Stone, Alice. Women's Suffrage: 1900-1920. Leslie Women's Suffrage Commission, 1918. Accessed November 12, 2017 https://books.google.com/books?id=KtMRAQAAMAAJ
Husted Harper, Ida, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffeage, vol. 6, (1922), 312-313 [LINK]