Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Clara Darrow, 1860-1915

By Katrina Burch, Archival Assistant, North Dakota State University

First President of the Votes for Women League in North Dakota

Clara L. Darrow (née Dillon) was born in March of 1860 to John and Elizabeth (Barrington) Dillon in Appleton, Wisconsin. Both of her parents had immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Miss Dillon attended Lawrence University for three years before meeting her future husband Dr. Edward M. Darrow (born January 16, 1855). Edward and Clara were married in 1880 in Appleton, Wisconsin. Following her husband to Fargo, North Dakota, Ms. Darrow would teach school locally as well as help out with her husband's growing medical practice. She and Edward lived on 8th Street south in Fargo, where they raised their children: Mary Darrow Weible, Elizabeth Edwards, Frank Darrow, Kent Darrow and Daniel Darrow.

Ms. Darrow, in addition to helping her husband, belonged to several major women's clubs in Fargo, including the Old Settlers Club, the First Women's Club of Fargo, the Fortnightly Club, and the Fine Arts Club. When she served on the State Library Board, she was the first woman to serve on a state commission by 1915. She also was a member for three years of the Fargo School Board, where she would help start the state's first kindergarten.

Ms. Darrow was very active in the suffrage movement in North Dakota. She organized an equal suffrage league in every county in the state, and on February 4, 1912, with Sylvia Pankhurst's help she started the Votes for Women League in North Dakota. They would hold their first conference on October 18, 1913, electing Ms. Darrow as President (a title she would hold until her death), her daughters Mary as Vice president and Elizabeth as campaign chair. Through her work she would become close friends with both Sylvia Pankhurst and another major suffrage leader, Jeannette Rankin. In 1914, Ms. Darrow wrote a pamphlet titled "I want to Vote" which discussed women's voting rights.

Unfortunately, Clara Darrow did not get to see her work for North Dakota suffrage fully realized. She died April 23, 1915 in Jacksonville, Florida where she was vacationing.

SOURCES: Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Darrow, Clara (obit) published April 22, 1915 in the Fargo Forum, Fargo, N.D.

Eirksmoen, Curt (2010). Did you know that...?: 46 Fascinating stories about people who have lived in North Dakota; Volume 4 in a series. Pages 81-84. J & M Printing (N.D.).

____ (1900). Compendium of history and biography of North Dakota; containing a history of North Dakota. Wilson, Humphreys and Co. (I.N.). Page 434.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Fargo Ward 3, Cass, North Dakota; Roll: T624_1140; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0040; FHL microfilm: 1375153

back to top