Biographical Sketch of Candis J. Nelson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1952

Biography of Candis J. Nelson, 1868 - 1916

By Beth Twomey, Librarian, North Dakota State University

Educator, activist with North Dakota Votes for Women and the W.C.T.U.

Candis J. Nelson was born in 1868 in Indiana, the first child of Sanford W. Nelson and Margaret A. Nelson. She spent her entire life working as a college level instructor including positions at Geenville College in Illinois where she was a professor of pedagogy, Valley City State Normal (V.C.S.N.) in North Dakota where she was in teacher education, and ending her career at Seattle Pacific College in Oregon where she was a key leader in developing the Normal School (teacher education). She was an officer in the North Dakota Votes for Women League and travelled widely around the state speaking at various women's groups meetings about suffrage. Her writings on suffrage were frequently featured in newspapers across the state.

Miss Nelson was active in the suffrage movement during her tenure at V.C.S.N. and penned a number of widely published articles and opinion pieces in support of woman suffrage. While working as education faculty at V.C.S.N., she was the State Superintendent of Franchise for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.), Franchise being the department of the W.C.T.U. that was dedicated to woman's suffrage. She gave talks about the civic education of women and about people who oppose women's suffrage at a W.C.T.U. meeting at the Chautauqua in 1912.

Miss Nelson had a long and significant talk published about women's suffrage in the Bismarck Daily Tribune on 22 Feb. 1913. She wrote "The old-fashioned woman is not only out of place in the world today, but is immoral. It is argued that a mother belongs to her children and her place is by their side in the home. She does belong to her children. But how is she to safeguard their water, milk and food supply if she never leave the fireside?" She also wrote" It is no longer a question whether women want the ballot or not. It is her duty to take it that she may defend her husband, her home, her children, against the ten thousand lurking foes in the way of sickness, disease, contaminated food, death traps, etc.; and it is a man's duty as the creator of the state to see that she has this opportunity put into her hands to be used in defense of her home..." This talk was given at the annual convention for the North Dakota Enforcement League (anti-alcohol) and was titled "Woman's Right to the Ballot as a Defense to Her Home."

She spoke out against an influential man, President of Tufts College, Frederick W. Hamilton, who said that unmarried teachers were harmful to girls. She presented a robust counter-argument that asked for equal treatment and opportunity. She was a featured speaker at the state convention for the North Dakota Woman's Suffrage association in Fargo in June 13 of 1912. Her speech was titled "Relationship between Woman Suffrage and Other Reforms". She wrote a letter that was published in the Valley City, North Dakota Weekly Times-Record urging North Dakota to become the eleventh state to pass equal suffrage. "Free women west of us, free women south of us, free women east of us, son now the searching test of love and faith professed. Make us free as the rest."

Miss Nelson passed away in Seattle, Washington at the age of 83 on January 24, 1952.

SOURCES:

1870; Census Place: Taylor, Harrison, Iowa; Roll: M593_395; Page: 115A; Family History Library Film: 545894

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Annual Reports of the Department of the Interior. Report of the Commissioner of education volume 1, 1907 Washington: G.P.O.

Entertainments for Normal School Teacher. The weekly times-record. (Valley City, N.D.), 22 Aug. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Miss Nelson Talked on Suffrage in Convention. Bismarck daily tribune. (Bismarck, Dakota [N.D.]), 22 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1913-02-22/ed-1/seq-6/>

Review of the W.C.T.U. meeting at the Chautauqua. The weekly times-record. (Valley City, N.D.), 01 Aug. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Snyder, H. (2016). Growing a College: The Tiffany Years, 1916-1926. Seattle Pacific College publications.28.

Suffrage Convention Tomorrow. The evening times. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 12 June 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1912-06-12/ed-1/seq-8/>

The Place of North Dakota. The weekly times-record. (Valley City, N.D.), 21 Nov. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074274/1912-11-21/ed-1/seq-2/>

Unmarried teachers declared unfit. Jamestown weekly alert. [volume] (Jamestown, Stutsman County, D.T. [N.D.]), 13 Oct. 1910. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042405/1910-10-13/ed-1/seq-9/>

Women's Clubs. The evening times. (Grand Forks, N.D.), 20 Nov. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042373/1912-11-20/ed-1/seq-7/>

Writes on Childcare. The weekly times-record. (Valley City, N.D.), 26 June 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074274/1913-06-26/ed-1/seq-4/>

Youngdahl spoke at Enforcement meeting. Bismarck daily tribune. (Bismarck, Dakota [N.D.]), 19 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1913-02-19/ed-1/seq-6/>

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