Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary Graham Rice, 1866-1948
By Jamie Lawrence, student, and Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, faculty sponsor, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
State Treasurer, Ohio Woman Suffrage Association
Mary Graham Rice was born on December 31, 1866, in Wilmington, Delaware, to John V. and Sarah Lowe Rice. She never married nor had children. Around 1900, Mary Rice lived in Chester, Pennsylvania, where she taught at a private school. At some point, she moved to Philadelphia. During 1906 and 1907, she published several poems in the literary magazine, The Conservator, which was based out of Philadelphia and edited by Horace Traubel. Rice also spent time in Norwalk, Ohio, and throughout Kansas organizing for woman suffrage.
According to an article in the Topeka Daily Capital, Mary Graham Rice was introduced to and took up the woman suffrage cause in 1912 while on a visit with her sister in Norwalk, Ohio. During the 1912 election cycle, national woman suffrage leaders identified Kansas as one of the states where the passage of women suffrage seemed plausible: the state's suffrage amendment was up for ratification by the voters. Mary Rice spent October of that year in Kansas helping organize and raise money in support of the Kansas suffrage amendment. Newspapers throughout the state noted her numerous speaking engagements. Rice was one of many transplants in Kansas, who helped pass woman suffrage in that state.
After victory in Kansas, Mary Graham Rice returned to Norwalk, Ohio, where she focused her attention on the Ohio suffrage efforts. Suffrage women in Ohio had decided to reignite their own state efforts. By January 1913, Rice headed the state's finance committee, a position she held at least through 1915. According to the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association report at the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in 1913, Mary Graham Rice had raised $2,000 in pledges of the $3,000 total brought in that year. In 1914, Rice helped negotiate the county-by-county campaign in Ohio, and in 1915, she continued to head the finance committee as the organization shifted to a congressional district effort. Rice's frustrations, however, began to show in November 1915. The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted her: "Unless we can raise money, we don't deserve to win, and I don't care when we do." In 1916, she attended the national suffrage convention in New Jersey, representing Ohio.
Mary Graham Rice lived for twenty years in Philadelphia before her death. She died January 26, 1948, and she was 81 years old at the time of her passing.
CAPTION: Mary Graham Rice, Topeka, Kansas, 1912.
CREDIT: "To Help Kansas Women Campaign." Topeka (KS) Daily Capital, October 13, 1912. Newspapers.com.
"How Kind! Voters Given Rest." Cincinnati Enquirer, November 13, 1915, Newspapers.com.
"Local Women Take Prominent Part in Suffrage Meeting." Dayton (OH) Herald, September 6, 1916. Newspapers.com.
Obituary. Mary Graham Rice. Delaware County (Chester, PA) Daily Times, January 28, 1948. Newspapers.com.
"Ohio Suffragist Leaders Decide to Reopen Battle for the Ballot." Akron (OH) Beacon Journal, January 9, 1913. Newspapers.com.
Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967. Mary Graham Rice, Philadelphia, PA. January 26, 1948. File No. 9209. Ancestry Library.
Rice, Mary Graham. "La Danaide." Conservator 17, no.4 (June 1906): 52. HathiTrust.
Rice, Mary Graham. "To Truth." Conservator 17, no.6 (August 1906): 84. HathiTrust.
Rice, Mary Graham. "Magdalene." Conservator 17, no.7 (September 1906): 100. HathiTrust.
Rice, Mary Graham. "Norwalk." Conservator 18, no.4 (June 1907): 52. HathiTrust.
"Suffrage: Convention of Ohio." Cincinnati Enquirer, November 16, 1913. Newspapers.com.
"Suffragists." Cincinnati Enquirer, January 3, 1915. Newspapers.com.
"To Help Kansas Women Campaign." Topeka (KS) Daily Capital, October 13, 1912. Newspapers.com.
United States Census 1870, s.v. "Mary Rice, Wilmington Ward 1, New Castle, DE." Ancestry Library.
United States Census 1940, s.v. "Mary G. Rice, Philadelphia, PA." Ancestry Library.
US City Directories, 1822-1995. Chester, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1898. Mary Graham Rice. Ancestry Library.
Upton, Harriet Taylor. "Ohio (Woman Suffrage Association." In Proceedings of the Forty-Fifth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association Held at Washington, DC, November 29-December 5, 1913, 96-99. New York: Headquarters of NAWSA, 1913. HathiTrust.
Upton, Harriet Taylor, to Vadae Meekison, Warren, OH, February 11, 1913. Letter, Ohio Woman Suffrage Association Fundraising Letters. Vadae G. Meekison Collection (MS211), Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University. Digitized by Ohio Memory Collection. https://ohiomemory.org.
Walters, Marion. "Suffrage Leaders Awaken Kansas Women; Warm Campaign Work Promises Victory." Chicago Tribune, October 20, 1912. Newspapers.com.
"Will Inaugurate County Campaign." Marion (OH) Star, October 12, 1914. Newspapers.com.
"Woman Suffrage Convention Hears Interesting Discussions." Van Wert (OH) Daily Bulletin, November 19, 1913. Newspaper Archive.