Biographical Sketch of Mary Collins

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1866-1945

Biography of Mary (Mrs. James) Collins, 1866-1945

By: Beth Twomey, librarian, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota

Member of the North Dakota Votes for Woman League, Grand Forks Votes for Women League, W.C.T.U.

Mrs. James Collins (née Mary Riley) was born March 6, 1866 in Sauk Center, Minnesota. She taught school for a time in Grand Forks, North Dakota before she married James Collins on January 5, 1899. Her husband was a deputy United States marshal in North Dakota and served as the representative for the sixth district in the state legislature. They had five children: Louis, Adelaide, Muriel, William, and Charles.

Mrs. Collins belonged to the North Dakota State Votes for Women League and served on the Committee on Permanent Organization. She was part of the executive committee of the Grand Forks Votes for Women League and attended a dinner in October of 1912 honoring Jane Addams of the settlement Hull House in Chicago, Illinois. Also in June 1912, she took part in the initial meeting that was held to establish a state-wide Votes for Women League. She helped host a dinner for Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Suffrage association after she gave a talk in Grand Forks in September of 1914. Collins was chosen to represent the Grand Forks Votes for Women League at the state convention in 1916. By 1917 she was vice-president of the Grand Forks Votes for Women League and introduced Miss Mabel Vernon, national secretary of the Woman's Party when she was on tour in Grand Forks to drum up interest in the Women's Party platform. Collins frequently hosted socials to communicate news about suffrage to the men and women of Grand Forks and was noted in the local newspapers for giving talks about the suffrage question at teas and socials held by other women in the community. She also led rallies in the Grand Forks region to raise awareness of woman's suffrage. In May of 2015 she traveled to Fargo to attend memorial services for Mrs. C. L. Darrow, former president of the North Dakota suffrage league.

Mrs. Collins also belonged to the Women's Civic League of Grand Forks and was a delegate to the state convention. She served as vice-president and president of the league as well as serving on a wide variety of sub-committees. She was active in the Federation of Women's Clubs of which the Civic League was a part, and attended the 12th biennial convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs in Chicago, Illinois in June of 1914. She also belonged to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) and was described as a prominent speaker at the state convention in Grand Forks in 1916. She also frequently hosted W.C.T.U. meetings at her home in Grand Forks as duly noted in the local newspaper. She read a paper titled "The Necessity of the Vote since Women's Occupations Have Taken Them from the Home" at a Grand Forks W.C.T.U. meeting on March 19, 1914.

Collins also served on the large statewide committee of women that organized to welcome Mrs. Woodrow Wilson to North Dakota in September of 1919. She passed away in Moorhead, Minnesota in April of 1945.

SOURCES:

Convention Closes. Bismarck daily tribune. [volume] (Bismarck, Dakota [N.D.]), 20 May 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1916-05-20/ed-1/seq-5/

State Club Notes. The Fargo forum and daily republican. [volume] (Fargo, N.D.), 07 Oct. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042224/1914-10-07/ed-1/seq-7/

Elizabeth Cady Staton. History of Woman Suffrage 1900-1920. Pg. 501.

Grand Forks daily herald. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 12 Sept. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074405/1914-09-12/ed-1/seq-3/

Grand Forks herald. [volume] (Grand Forks, N.D.), 03 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042414/1920-02-03/ed-1/seq-6/

Local Suffragist Delegates. Grand Forks herald. [volume] (Grand Forks, N.D.), 05 Oct. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042414/1916-10-05/ed-1/seq-8/

Local Women Attend Service. Grand Forks daily herald. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 11 May 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074405/1915-05-11/ed-1/seq-3/

Miss Mable Vernon Suffrage Speaker Here on Saturday. Grand Forks herald. [volume] (Grand Forks, N.D.), 26 Oct. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042414/1917-10-26/ed-1/seq-2/

Miss Minnie J. Nelson Heads Big Committee of Women Which Welcomes Mrs. Woodrow Wilson Wednesday. The Bismarck tribune. [volume] (Bismarck, N.D.), 08 Sept. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042243/1919-09-08/ed-1/seq-5/

Mrs. Mary Collins, Fargo, Dies at 78. The Fargo forum and daily republican. April 26, 1945. P. 10.

Suffrage Hostesses Tonight. The evening times. [volume] (Grand Forks, N.D.), 01 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1913-02-01/ed-1/seq-5/

W.C.T.U. Held Meeting. The evening times. [volume] (Grand Forks, N.D.), 20 March 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1914-03-20/ed-1/seq-5/

What they are doing in Society. Grand Forks daily herald. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 21 Oct. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074405/1914-10-21/ed-1/seq-3/

What are They Doing in Society. Grand Forks daily herald and the evening times. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 09 June 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074404/1914-06-09/ed-1/seq-5/

What are they doing in Society. Grand Forks daily herald. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 30 Sept. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074405/1914-09-30/ed-1/seq-3/

back to top