Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Alpha Smoot, 1863-1928
By Raquel Anijo, student, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
Family Woman, Mother, and Activist in the Suffrage movement
Alpha May Eldredge was born in Salt Lake City Utah, on August 6, 1863, although she was known to go by the nickname Allie. Her mother was Chloe Antoinette, and her father was Horace Sunderlin Eldredge. Her father was a well-known businessman in Utah and established a bank called Deseret Bank. Alpha Deseret University in the state of Utah and was educated as a musician. On September 17, 1884 Alpha Eldredge married Reed Smoot, who became a senator from Utah for five terms. Alpha Smoot and her husband had six children.
Not only did Alpha Smoot take interest in her husband's career as a senator but she took an interest in politics more broadly. A profile of Mrs. Smoot in the Evening Star in 1914 stated, "The women vote in Utah, and Mrs. Smoot has voted with them. She has been president of the Woman's Republican Club of the state, a political club for the study of state and national politics." Alpha Smoot had taken on an important role in being a leader for the Woman's Republican Club, making sure that other women knew about the importance of state and national politics.
The profile in the Evening Star described how Alpha Smoot believed that a woman's role in the home was something that should be valued. She argued that a woman working in the home was just as important as a woman who worked outside of the home. The article quotes Alpha Smoot stating, "And woman, as an executive head of the home...has it in her power to exert a more tremendous influence on the future of this country through this one medium than ever before in history." Alpha Smoot rendered the home as an important occupation and believed that domestic work should not be discredited because it should be considered a hard-working job.
She based her views on the home on her experiences of being a mother in the home. She believed activities such as housekeeping were an extreme test of patience and comparable to business efficiency. Even though Alpha Smoot participated in clubs and even was president of the Woman's Republican Club, she truly valued the home over her involvement in other social activities and took pride in being a wife and a mother. For Alpha Smoot, to be a mother was a great honor. She viewed motherhood as one of the noblest things that a woman could do and believed that it should not be viewed with such negative connotations. Women were more than the daily task they performed such as feeding and clothing their children. To Alpha Smoot, their happiness and lives were worth more than just that. In her eyes, mothers were great influencers in exalting their children's lives. She held women up to the highest standard because she believed women give birth to noblewomen and courageous men and this work should be considered the most important that any human being can perform. Alpha Smoot took great pride in knowing how to cook, clean, and be a housekeeper. She did not view cooking, cleaning, and housekeeping as restrictive rather something that she purely enjoyed, and believed was best suited for herself.
Reed Smoot's journal reveals that in 1911 Alpha Smoot had been diagnosed with a tumor on her breast and that it was decided that for precautions her tumor would be removed from her breast to lower her risk of getting cancer. Alpha battled her illness for many years, but finally on the 7th of November in 1928, she finally succumbed and passed away at the age of 65 years old. She was buried back in her hometown Provo City, Utah. In a tribute to his wife, Reed Smoot made it known that his success in being a senator was because of his wife Allie.
"Alpha May Eldredge (1863-1928). FamilySearch." FamilySearch , 8 Feb. 2020, <ancestors.familysearch.org/en/KW8X-H8M/alpha-may-eldredge-1863-1928.>
Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 16 Aug. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1914-08-16/ed-1/seq-47/
Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 07 Nov. 1928. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers . Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1928-11-07/ed-1/seq-31/
Lewiston evening teller. [volume] (Lewiston, Idaho), 21 Jan. 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers . Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091109/1904-01-21/ed-1/seq-6/>
Smoot, Alpha May Eldredge. Classified Photographs. Utah Department of Heritage & Arts. <https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=433060&q=Alpha+Smoot>
Smoot, Alpha May Eldredge. 1928-11-07. "Mrs. Reed Smoot Succumbs In Capital After Long Illness. Salt Lake Telegram. Utah Digital Newspapers. <https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=15588131&q=Alpha+May+Smoot&sort=rel>
Smoot, Reed. In the World: The Diaries of Reed Smoot. Edited by Heath S. Harvard. Signature Books, Smith Research Associates, 1997. https://archive.org/stream/InTheWorldReedSmoot/In the World-Reed Smoot_djvu.txt.
Williston graphic. (Williston, Williams County, N.D.), 04 Feb. 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88076270/1904-02-04/ed-1/seq-3/>