Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists 1890-1920
Biography of Alice Ball Loomis, 1859-1921
By Alice McGee, student, Macalester College
The Reverend Alice Ball Loomis was born in 1859 in Wisconsin. Born Alice Idelle Ball, she married Irving G. Loomis sometime in the 1870s, before her suffragist work began. They had one child, Simon Benjamin Loomis, who was born in 1881. Alice Ball Loomis's interest in the suffrage movement began at an early age, as she was raised by a suffragist mother. Around the mid 1880s, Ball Loomis became an active member of the Wisconsin Suffrage Association, and there is evidence of her participation in the suffrage movement until the early 1900s. In 1898, after many years of suffragist activism, she became the State Lecturer & Organizer for the Wisconsin Suffrage Association.
Ball Loomis was a woman of many talents - she taught, wrote, lectured, and preached on many sociological and religious topics. She was a minister in the Lutheran church, and often paired her suffrage work with religious study. She traveled around Wisconsin and Minnesota, delivering sermons at both Lutheran churches and suffragist conventions. Many of her sermons and speeches focused on her beliefs in gender equality, as well as civil rights. In one sermon from 1893 titled "On courage," she expressed her belief that "The freedom of the colored man, the improved status of the woman, our religious freedom, our freedom of speech and of the press have all been given to us through the efforts of those who have seen these needs and wrought and suffered for them till the majority were awakened."
In addition to her pastoral work, Ball Loomis was president of the City Federation of Richland Center, her hometown in Wisconsin. This organization was a confederation of eight local women's clubs, and aimed to unite both 'city' and 'country' women to discuss women's issues. As president of this organization, Ball Loomis was particularly interested in "helping women out of the rut of personalities" and helping them reach "higher and healthier ground," as stated in a 1901 piece on Ball Loomis in the Minneapolis Journal. When asked in a 1901 interview why she became a suffragist, Rev. Ball Loomis responded: "I became interested probably by having a modicum of brains which I had been taught to use, and some small sense of justice." Alice Ball Loomis passed away in 1921 at the age of 62, and is buried in Lone Rock Cemetery in Lone Rock, Wisconsin along with her son.
"Interesting Women," The Minneapolis Journal, May 30, 1901, https://newspapers.mnhs.org/jsp/viewer.jsp?collection_filter=All&doc_id=4b0d4236-188b-40ad-be89-
"Synopsis of sermon preached by Mrs. Alice Ball Loomis at Unity Church," Sioux City Journal, May 22, 1893, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/22461019/synopsis-of-sermon-preached-by-mrs/
Find-a-Grave, entry for Alice Loomis. Accessed online at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55147134/alice-loomis
Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]