Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Gertrude Swope McBride, 1876-1951
By Joshua Harris and Carey Kelley, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Gertrude Swope McBride was born in 1876, in Indiana, to Albert and Henrietta Swope. Getrude moved to Kansas City when she was a young child and later met Thomas McBride while living there. She and McBride applied for a marriage license in Marion County, Indiana on August 14, 1893. She spent her adult life caring for her home and family as well as participating in social clubs and events in the greater Kansas City area. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Florence Jean, and by the 1920s, had taken in another girl named Aileen. In the 1890s, McBride was a member of literary societies, such as the Philomathean Alumnae Association as well as the Women's Reading Club of Kansas City. The literary societies hosted specific programs spanning over several weeks which provided members an opportunity for both social and intellectual engagement.
McBride took up the cause of women's suffrage and devoted much of her time to leadership roles within various suffrage associations. Although it is unclear what prompted McBride to become a suffragist, the close association of social clubs and suffrage organizations may have contributed to her involvement. In 1917, McBride was selected as executive secretary of the Kansas City and Jackson County Suffragist Association. The primary focus of the Association was to secure ratification after Congress passed the 19th Amendment. In 1918, McBride wrote a piece, "The Part of the Kansas City Equal Suffrage League in the Campaign for Equal Suffrage" for The Missouri Historical Review, detailing the formation of the first woman's suffragist association in Kansas City, which was first established as the Equal Suffrage Association of Kansas City in 1892. The essay was part of a larger effort to document the work of suffragists in the state of Missouri. The names of officers in the Kansas City Equal Suffrage League and the Jackson County Suffragist Association are listed along with information about its founding and their activism to promote suffrage. Such efforts included hosting lectures, giving speeches and organizing parades throughout the area.
In May 1918, the state suffrage convention was held in Macon, Missouri. At this meeting, the National American Woman Suffrage Association was invited to hold its 1919 Golden Jubilee at the Statler Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. Carrie Chapman Catt remarked that the Jubilee was the "best convention ever held anywhere." Shortly after the convention, the Nineteenth Amendment passed in Congress and went out to the states for ratification. McBride, as well as the Association, shifted the focus of their activism from suffrage to organizing and educating new voting women. They established Citizenship Schools to "make every woman an intelligent voter in 1920." McBride taught many of these classes throughout Kansas City and Jackson County. The classes focused on the principles of government, organization, publicity, public speaking, suffrage history and argument, and parliamentary law and use of literature. Professor Isador Loeb, from the University of Missouri, gave lectures on government and the women's clubs worked with the school to help organize and run the night school program. McBride's contribution to the suffrage movement aided in securing ratification and educating new voters.
On April 23, 1951 she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in a Kansas City hospital and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
Certificate of Death: Gertrude Swope McBride. Filed 23 April 1953. State of Missouri, The Division of Health of Missouri. Reg. No. 149, File No. 12675.
The Indianapolis News. Indianapolis, Indiana. 14 Aug. 1893 https://www.newspapers.com/image/40150804/?terms=gertrude%2Bswope%2Bindiana
Harper, Ida, et. al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) Chapter XXIV. [LINK]
Kansas City 1920 Census Place: Ward 12, Jackson, Missouri; Roll: T625_924.
Kansas City Journal. 27, Nov. 1898. https://www.newspapers.com/image/84569026/?terms=mrs%2Bthomas%2Bmcbride.
McBride, Gertrude. "The Part of the Kansas City Equal Suffrage League in the Campaign for Equal Suffrage." The Missouri Historical Review. 1918.
Shoemaker, Floyd C. The Missouri Historical Review, Volumes 13-14. State Historical Society of Missouri, 1919.