Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Wilda Claire Strong Peck, 1890-1971
By Marty Bennett, Professor Emeritus, Santa Rosa (CA) Junior College
Wilda Claire Strong was born March 9, 1890, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father was a dentist, and her mother a school teacher. She graduated from Plymouth High School in Cleveland in 1907 and from Western Reserve University Library School in 1908. She worked as a librarian at the Perkins Children's Library of the Cleveland Public Library and the Hiram House Social Settlement in Cleveland. She moved to Boston in 1911 to attend Simmons College and worked at the Boston Athenaeum Library. She was a sociology and library science instructor at Simmons from 1914 to 1925. Before World War I, Wilda Peck was a member of the anti-war Women's Peace Party and later, during the war, joined the Red Cross.
In 1913 she married Martin Peck of Lynn, Mass. They lived at 36 Cherry Street in Lynn until 1919 and at 74 Fenwood Rd. and later 503 Beacon Street in Boston. Her husband earned an M.D. from Harvard in 1915 and then became a professor of medicine and psychiatry at Harvard. He served as President of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society from 1931 to 1937. Wilda Peck was deeply interested in the emerging field of psychoanalysis and studied in Paris with Otto Rank, a student and long-time close associate of Sigmund Freud.
Wilda Peck served as President of the Women's Political Science Club of Lynn, from 1915-1917. Between 1915-1919 she was an officer of the Lynn Massachusetts Equal Suffrage Association and a delegate to the annual meetings of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. In addition to her suffrage work, she participated in campaigns to improve conditions for working women and to win support for child labor legislation. Her husband, Martin Peck, was a strong proponent of women's suffrage and also active in the movement. After moving to Boston, she was one of the founders in 1920 of the Cambridge League of Women Voters and served on its board.
She and Martin Peck divorced in 1930, and Wilda Peck moved to Washington, D.C. with her daughter (born in 1924) who was given the same name of Wilda Claire. She married Joseph W. Mackenzie in 1934, a senior staff member at the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation of the Social Security Board. Wilda Peck was a board member and active in the Washington D.C. League of Women Voters and a member of an extended circle of progressive and Democratic women close to Eleanor Roosevelt. She became a noted artist in Washington, D.C., and was an active member of the Washington Watercolor Club, the Washington Society of Printmakers, and the Washington Arts Club.