Biographical Sketch of Adelaide Sterling Ott

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Adelaide Sterling Ott, 1871-1929

By Saundra L. Sarsany, curator/archivist, Harriet Taylor Upton House
Warren, Ohio

Woman Suffrage supporter

Adelaide Sterling Ott was born in1871 in Buffalo, New York to Hiram and Amanda Sterling. She had a sister Clara. She was a graduate of public schools and of young women's schools in Huntington, West Virginia .and in Deland, Florida. Later the family moved to Youngstown, Ohio. In 1889, she married C. J. Ott. They were married for 30 years and had no children.

Adelaide was the first woman to serve Mahoning County in the Ohio Assembly upon her election in 1922. She served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. Prior to her state service, she had not held any public office. According to the Youngstown Daily Vindicator at the time of her death: "When Mrs. C.J. Ott first became a candidate for state representative, she stated that the occupation she followed was that of a housewife, but that she had also had some experience in the Red Cross and believed that she was fitted for the office 'by reason of the fact that club women are studying affairs and understand them better than ever, and that they are ready to share in the responsibilities of government.'"

Her commitment to public service was evidenced not only by such statements, but her other civic involvements. She was active in the Red Cross canteen work during World War 1, raised funds for the American Legion, and was president of the Women's Division of the First Baptist Church of Youngstown and the Maccabees.

As a state representative, she was interested in legislation dealing with education and assistance for ex-service people. She vigorously fought against a controversial bill that would require compulsory reading of the Bible in public schools, and stated: "I regard enforced Bible reading without the religious impulse behind it as more harmful than beneficial,"Outspoken on many issues, she also opposed a gas-tax bill stating there were already plenty of taxes on automobiles. She served on the following house committees: finance, utilities and fish and game.

In August 1926, Adelaide was the first woman to be named chair of the Committee on Permanent Organizations in the Ohio State Legislature. She was also the first woman member of the House to preside over the chamber when she was asked by the Speaker of the House to temporarily occupy the chair during a session. In 1928, she made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the Ohio Senate where she was defeated by Sen. Nile P. Johnson. She died not long after serving in the halls of the legislature in January 1929, at age 54.

Sources:

The Ohio Republican Party Women's Suffrage Committee

Ohio Women's Policy and Research Commission

Youngstown Daily Vindicator obituary, January 19, 1929

Ladies Gallery, Ohio Statehouse

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