Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Grace D. Treat, 1883-1970
By Sara E. Campbell, researcher
Secretary, Cleveland Woman's Suffrage Party; State Enrollment Committee, Ohio Woman's Suffrage Association
Grace D. Treat was secretary of the Cleveland Woman's Suffrage Party in 1911. She was quoted in a look-back at the women's movement by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in August 1940: "It was a great experience," she said, "and it brought one in contact with a world movement. For the first time I began to understand democracy, and I was also conscious of myself as a disenfranchised person." A parade was held in Cleveland on October 3, 1914. Grace stated in the interview that she carried a Finnish flag to honor the Finnish women who "had the ballot." She said, "As I walked along the densely packed avenue, head up, I made up my mind I wouldn't care how many rotten eggs were thrown at me."
Grace was born in June of 1883 in or near Joliet, Illinois, daughter of Francis Treat, a mechanical engineer, and Ida Johnson. She had one sister, also called Ida, born 1889. Their mother died in 1897 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Joliet. Her father remarried in 1899 in Oberlin to Cora (Gage) Newton, bringing a step-sister, "Mamie" of her own age into the family and, later, a half-sister Dorothy in 1904.
In 1900 Grace was a student, living with her family in Cleveland. They had two servants living in the household. The family resided for a time in Orange, New Jersey and was enumerated there in the state census in 1905, also with two German servants. In 1910 she was still in her father's household and listed no occupation. As noted above, she became an activist soon after.
In 1917 Grace went to Cincinnati to organize a suffrage party, working with Dorothy Thompson there for two years.
In October of 1919 Grace was a speaker at the 25th annual state convention of the Federation of Women's Clubs on the topic of the "Social Unit." The anti-suffrage movement had argued that the nuclear family, not the individual, was a social unit that would be destroyed by giving women the right to vote. The irony in the philosophy is that women were charged with bringing up future presidents and statesmen, but were to be kept sheltered from participating in the ideals for which they would stand. Grace had been offering her talk around the state in the months leading up to the convention. In March, she was a featured speaker at the City Federation of Women's Clubs in Piqua, as a member of the state enrollment committee of the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association. Many clubs were polling that spring on "the suffrage question" and Grace was asking that the polls be completed by the local organizations.
Grace lived in Cleveland and remained unmarried throughout her life. At the time of the 1920 census, she identified herself as a Community Organizer. In 1930 she was a secretary of the City Club, and in 1935 and 1940 she was a secretary at "a women's club," living at the New Amsterdam Hotel. Her father had died in 1930, and her step-mother in 1936.
She died November 8, 1970 in Cleveland and is buried in the Strongs Ridge Cemetery in Strongs Ridge (Huron) Ohio.
Cleveland Plain Dealer "All Feature Section: They've Been Voting for 20 Years Now" 25 August 1940.
Piqua Daily Call "City Federation Meets" 10 March 1919, p.10.
Sandusky Star Journal "Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs" 11 September 1919, p. 5.
Steubenville Herald Star "Anniversary" 10 September 1919, p. 14.
Sandusky Star Journal, 16 March 1936, col. 6.
U.S. Census 1900 Cleveland, Ohio
New Jersey State Census 1905 Orange, New Jersey
U.S. Census 1910 Cleveland, Ohio
U.S. Census 1920 Cincinnati, Ohio
U.S. Census 1930 Cleveland, Ohio
U.S. Census 1940 Cleveland, Ohio
Passenger Manifest Empress Britain, 10 September 1936, Quebec, Canada.
Ohio Death index
FindaGrave.com memorial #156250586 Grace Treat
FindaGrave.com memorial 91750919 Ida Johnson Treat, also Francis and Cora.
All images accessed online at Ancestry or FindMyPast.
[Image from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 25 August 1940]