Biographical Sketch of Alexandrine A. La Tourette

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Alexandrine A. La Tourette, 1886-1968

By Margaret R. Curry, attorney (retired); past Vice Regent, Captain John Oldham Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; member of Nevada County Historical Society, Nevada City, California.

Activist - Woman Suffrage in Reno, Nevada

Alexandrine La Tourette was born in Fenton, Michigan on September 21, 1886 to Howard Booth La Tourette, and Ella Sheldon. Mr. La Tourette was a banker, and a well-known community leader; active in the Baptist Church; a supporter of the Baptist Ministers' Aid Society; and a trustee of Kalamazoo College. Mrs. La Tourette was active in the Baptist Church, as well as the Ladies' Library Association, and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.).

Alexandrine was also active in the Baptist church, holding leadership positions in various church groups, such as the Dorcas Circle and the Philathea Class of the Baptist Church, an organization of women for women, whose motto was "We Do Things."

Alexandrine attended Ripon College, a private liberal arts college, in Ripon, Wisconsin, from 1903 to 1906. Following the death of her father in the summer of 1906, Alexandrine returned to Michigan where she completed her college education at Kalamazoo College, graduating in 1907 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Alexandrine next pursued a professional career as a librarian, a good career path for women in the early 1900's, particularly for young well-educated middle-class women. She trained at the Pratt Institute Library School in Brooklyn, New York, a school directed by Mary Wright Plummer, a well-known advocate for the equal rights of women. After graduating in 1908, Alexandrine began her career as an Assistant at the New York City Public Library.

She left New York shortly thereafter for the position of Librarian for the Normal School at Stevens Point, Wisconsin, a position she held from 1908 to 1910. In addition to her duties as the school's librarian, she taught librarianship and library methods. She then returned to Michigan to take up the position of Librarian for the Carnegie Public Library at Iron Mountain, Michigan.

In 1913, Alexandrine moved to Reno, Nevada, to work as the Assistant Librarian at the University of Nevada, at Reno. There, Alexandrine continued her church activities; was a member of the University's Glee Club; the Women's Faculty Club; and the Reno Suffrage League of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society.

She played an important role in the successful 1914 campaign for the passage of the Nevada woman's suffrage amendment. In addition to attending educational and planning meetings, Alexandrine assisted Mrs. Bessie Eichelberger, State Treasurer of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, with organizing and circulating literature to voters throughout the state, and particularly in the rural and ranching communities, where there was greater support for women's suffrage. This strategy, master-minded by Anne Martin, the president of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, resulted in an overwhelming vote for the amendment.

Alexandrine left her position at the University of Nevada to move to Seattle, where she worked as the head librarian for the Yesler Branch of the Seattle Public Library.

On September 15, 1915, she married Bernard Ford Hemp at Spokane, Washington. In 1926, the Hemp family moved to California. Alexandrine continued to play an active role in church and community affairs. She held many board positions for the Berkeley-Albany Parent Teachers Association Council, and was the Council's president from 1935 to 1937. She was a member of the College Women's Club; the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.), and the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church in Berkeley.

Alexandrine died on August 2, 1968 at Berkeley, California.

Sources:

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"Yesler Library to Open Tuesday." Seattle Daily Times. Sept 13, 1914; p. 29.

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