Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Ida M. Stadie, 1873-1960
By Maria K. Lewis, student, and Molly P. Rozum, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota
New Yorker Ida M. Stadie traveled to South Dakota to advocate for woman suffrage from May to November in support of the state's last and successful 1918 campaign. She joined a coterie of paid National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) organizers including Stella Crossley and Gertrude Watkins. Mamie Shields Pyle, president of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League (SDUFL), initially questioned Stadie's skill but by the end found her one of the most "faithful" national organizers. When Crossley and Watkins threatened to quit three weeks before the November election, Stadie pleaded with them to stay on the job.
Born in Germany around 1873 to Charles and Agusta Stadie, Ida M. Stadie immigrated with her parents to Manhattan in 1880. By the early twentieth century, the family lived in New York City's Bronx borough. Stadie had two brothers and two sisters and her father worked in the manufacture of pianos. She likely earned her BA degree at Hunter College and had some training in business and public speaking at New York's City College and Columbia College. She taught piano at home (and may have considered managing her own piano business) but worked primarily as a teacher in Bronx public schools for over a decade in the early twentieth century. By 1930, she taught in Manhattan. Stadie appears to have remained single.
Ida Stadie emerges in the U.S. suffrage movement first in association with the state of New York's 1915 woman suffrage campaign. A member of the New York Woman Suffrage Party (NYWSP), Stadie served as the leader of the 32nd Assembly District in the Bronx in 1915 and 1916. Founded in October 1909 at a Convention of Disfranchised Women held in Carnegie Hall and chaired initially by Carrie Chapman Catt, the NYWSP by then had over 200,000 members. For the successful 1917 New York state woman suffrage campaign, Stadie served as one of five vice-chairs of the party in the Bronx.
In 1918, NAWSA leadership suggested SDUFL president Pyle hire Stadie for $75 a month, plus expenses. Pyle assigned Stadie as a "special worker" in South Dakota's Hutchinson County, 77% of whose residents claimed German heritage; many immigrated from Russia and identified as Mennonite. Out of the state's 63 counties, Hutchinson ranked 62nd in support for woman suffrage as measured by South Dakota's unsuccessful 1916 woman suffrage referendum. Suffragists felt Germans and traditional immigrant communities across the state had cost them victory. Among other issues, Germans voted anti-Prohibition. Indeed, Stadie found locals surprised to see another suffrage referendum; they expressed the attitude "as Prohibition has come, what else do the women want?" The state had voted in Prohibition in 1916 without women's votes. Pyle acknowledged the "very delicate" situation. Theretofore South Dakota had allowed noncitizen immigrants to vote in elections upon filing legal intention to become a citizen. The 1918 woman suffrage referendum, called "Amendment E" or the "Citizenship Amendment," enfranchised the state's women and disfranchised noncitizens. Pyle thought it unwise "to put up in glaring letters a request that they vote for the Citizenship amendment," as Stadie desired.
Two weeks before the November election Pyle wrote Stadie with optimism: "It seems wonderful that we may have a ray of hope for victory in Hutchinson County." When Stadie began, the editor of the Tripp Ledger voiced little "hope in regard to the town" because of its 90% German population. A Tripp German minister warned Stadie "the country farmers" would oppose. A Methodist minister told her "the foreign element" would be suspicious of her as an outsider and suggested she work through "their American neighbors"; in the context of the Great War and fear of government action, these locals would never show "their true feeling." Nevertheless, Stadie raised money in the county and sent a bulletin twice a month "into every home, carrying to most of them the first message they had ever had on woman suffrage."
Stadie traveled to Freeman, Menno, Kaylor, Parkston, Olivet, and Milltown. In Parkston, Stadie secured "window space" for suffrage literature, which Pyle thought would help "take the place of the lack of woman power" in the county. In Scotland (over the border in Bon Homme County--supposedly "one of the hardest foreign counties in the State"), she spoke to the local Red Cross and Civic League and the Nixy and Priscilla clubs. Stadie later entered a float in Scotland's Red Cross parade, which featured twenty women dressed in white wearing gold crowns and three pantomime "black figures, boys dressed in Pier[r]ot costumes, only their eyes showing" representing "Ignorance, Prejudice, and Vice": "the cords that tied the hands of South Dakota behind her," symbolized by a woman in white with no gold crown. A "woman farmer" from Parkston, driving a team pulling "a big piece of farm machinery" decorated in yellow bunting and suffrage posters followed.
By November, Stadie had lost much of her optimism and reported on the "very stubborn" nature of the "opposition." She also lamented that losses due to influenza would be "a great many." South Dakota suffragists won the vote in 1918, but support for woman suffrage in Hutchinson County grew from 21.5% to only 28.4% favorable. Hutchinson and Bon Homme counties were two of just six that did not support woman suffrage in 1918. Nevertheless, SDUFL attributed "several of the hardest counties of South Dakota" that voted for woman suffrage to Stadie's "grasp of their needs."
Ida M. Stadie died 14 November 1960 at Circleville, a hamlet in the town of Wallkill, Orange County, New York.
No image was located of Ida M. Stadie.
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