Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Susan Augusta Clark, 1855-1917
By Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D.
Susan Augusta Clark was born in 1855 in Charleston, Massachusetts to parents Joshua S. Clark and Jurusha S. Clark (née Walker). The Clark family appears to have moved from Massachusetts to Portland, Maine in the late 1850s. By 1860 the growing family was settled in Portland with Joshua Clark working as a milk dealer. Upon Joshua's death in 1875, Susan's eldest brother George continued the milk dealing business, while one brother worked as a laborer and another worked in a broom factory. Susan, the eldest daughter, began working as a schoolteacher. Around the same time, her two younger sisters became the first members of the family to attend school outside the home, perhaps in their sister's classroom. Susan continued teaching her entire life. By the turn of the twentieth century most of the Clark siblings had moved out of the family home at 21 Eastern Promenade in Portland; however, Susan Clark continued living with her mother until Jurusha's death in November 1906.
The same year as her mother's death, Susan begins to appear as a prominent member of Maine's women's suffrage movement. Clark first appears in the record in 1906 as an attendant of the seventh annual field-day of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association (W.S.A.) at Ocean Park. At the event, Susan participated in a class on citizenship focused on the topic, "War and Arbitration." The participants discussed questions such as "will there come a time when war will be done away" and "has a stronger nation a right to control and develop a weaker one?". The following year, Susan went from a class participant to a convention speaker. At the 1907 W.S.A. annual convention in Farmington, she gave the report of the standing committee and an update on literature. In 1909, Susan Clark was again a speaker at the W.S.A. convention, where she gave an "encouraging" report. In both 1912 and 1913, members of the W.S.A. elected Clark as superintendent of literature. Susan was also involved in the suffrage movement at the local level and in 1915 was elected recording secretary of The Portland Equal Suffrage Club.
In the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, the authors note that although the list of active Maine suffragists was too long to fully publish, there were three "prominent workers" of particular note. Susan Clark is one of these three stand-out women. Her level of involvement in the cause must have been striking to make such an impression, especially because her work was sadly cut short well prior to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. After suffering through a prolonged illness for about two years, she passed away at 169 Neal Street, Portland, Maine on January 8, 1917.
"1860 United States Federal Census," n.d. Ancestry Library. Accessed August 14, 2020.
"1870 United States Federal Census," n.d. Ancestry Library. Accessed August 14, 2020.
"1880 United States Federal Census," n.d. Ancestry Library. Accessed August 14, 2020.
"1900 United States Federal Census," August 14, 2020. Ancestry Library. Accessed August 14, 2020.
"Annual Convention of Woman Suffragists." The Bangor Daily News. October 11, 1907. Newspapers.com World Collection.
Burgess, Anne. "Suffrage Day at Ocean Park." The Woman's Journal, September 1, 1906. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current. "Joshua S. Clark," n.d. https://bit.ly/3kMUsaQ
"Maine Delegates Show Optimism: Suffragists in Annual Convention at Portland Applaud Work of Past Year." Woman's Journal, November 8, 1913. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
"Maine Suffragettes Mourn Valued Member." The Bangor Daily News, October 7, 1909. Newspapers.com World Collection.
"Record of Death: Susan Augusta Clark," 1917. Ancestry Library.
"Record of Death: Jurusha S. Clark," 1906. Ancestry Library.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan Brownell Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6., 1922. [LINK]
"Suffrage Work in the States: A Compilation of Recent Events in the Movement for Women's Enfranchisement Throughout the Union." The Woman's Journal, May 29, 1915. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
"Will Ask for Full Franchise: Maine Women Say They Have Governor and Sixty Thousand Grangers on Their Side." The Woman's Journal, November 9, 1912.