Biographical Sketch of Harriet Lily Clayton Wolstenholme

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Harriet Lily Clayton Wolstenholme, 1863-1944

By Patricia Lyn Scott, independent historian, co-editor, Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2005.

Member, Utah State House of Representatives, 1915-1917.
Vice-President, Congressional Union, Utah.
President, Utah State Chapter of National Council of Women Voters.
Vice-President, National Council of Women Voters.

Harriet Lily Clayton was born on December 19, 1863, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the sixth of eleven children born to William and Sarah Walters Clayton. Her father was a prominent Mormon pioneer best known for composing the Mormon hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints." Lily Clayton attended local schools and graduated from Morgan's Commercial College. On December 7, 1889, she married William J. Wolstenholme (1863-1934), the chief clerk of the Utah Central Railroad. Later, he became the managing director of the Western Fuel Company of Salt Lake City. They became the parents of two boys and three girls William J. Wolstenholme, Jr. (b.1890-d.1940), Della Wolstenholme (1893-1932), Laura Wolstenholme (1896-1900), Lily Wolstenholme (1898-1976), and Daniel Archer Wolstenholme (b.1902-d.1971).

Lily Wolstenholme was "an energetic civic leader," a member of numerous state and national organizations, and was described as "one of Utah's most prominent women" who reportedly represented Utah at "seven national and international conventions." She was a founding member of the Salt Lake Federation of Women's Clubs, the Ladies Republican Club, and the Home Industry League. Her two passions were family history and improving the lives of women. She was involved with the Utah Genealogical Society and served as president of both the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and the Handcart Pioneers of Utah. After a long and productive life she died in Salt Lake City on June 30, 1944.

For Lily Wolstenholme it was not enough that Utah women could vote; she was committed to national women suffrage. When the Republican Party was deadlocked in 1912 on supporting women's suffrage, she changed her political affilation and became identified with the Progressive Party. She was then nominated as a fusion candidate of the Progressive and Democratic parties for the Utah State Legislature and in 1914 was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. During her single term she introduced five bills, three were passed by the House and Senate, two were signed by Utah's governor, and became laws.

Between 1915 and 1920, hundreds of newspapers articles were published detailing Lily Wolstenholme's commitment to equal suffrage. 1915 and 1916 were extraordinarily busy years. Between September 14-16, she attended the San Francisco Congressional Union Convention serving on its resolution committee. Its conclusion was marked with the departure of an envoy from the West to the December's national convention in Washington, D.C. They carried with them a petition of more than 500,000 names collected in San Francisco. It stretched 18,000 feet. Two decades later she remembered witnessing the arrival of the two envoys in Washington. The procession was spectacular with each automobile in the procession driven by a woman over the age of 60. The two envoys served as spokeswomen for the women voters of the West at ncongressional committee hearings and the petition was submitted.

On December 6, Lily Wohlstenholme was one of 300 representatives visiting the White House to meet with President Woodrow Wilson and to urge him to support women's suffrage. The following day she led a delegation of six testifying at a hearing before the National Democratic Convention. Mrs. Florence Kelly president of the National Consumers' League, began the debate, speaking briefly of the desires of thousands of American women for the vote. She then introduced Mrs. Wolstenholme, who declared that "no man in Utah desired the franchise to women recalled." She also visited the United State Senate and witnessed Utah Senator George Sutherland introduce the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

In October 1915, Mrs. Emma Smith DeVoe, President of the National Council of Women Voters, asked Mrs. Wolstenholme to be the organizing president of a Utah chapter and to serve as a vice-president on the National Executive Board. On May 22, 1916, the state organization was established at her Salt Lake home and she was elected its first president. She worked diligently to create local chapters across Utah. In July, she attended the National Council's convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming and was selected to provide the response to the mayor's official welcome and spoke on "The Property Rights of Utah Women." She joined Utah's delegation traveling to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the Woman's Party Convention and spoke on the Susan B. Anthony amendment.

In August she realigned with the Republican Party and announced she would be running for the Utah State Senate. Within a month she withdrew her candidacy proclaiming "I am for women, first, last and all the time." She noted the Republicans intended to nominate only one woman to the State Senate, since there were two candidates her continued candidancy would split the vote guaranteeing that no Republican woman would be nominated.

During World War I, Lily Wolstenholme responded to the call for women's national service. She chaired the Utah Chapter of the National League of Service and traveled throughout Utah organizing local women's efforts and girls to the Patriot League. More than 50,000 registered to serve. She also served nationally on the advisory board of the Woman's Association of Commerce. At the end of the war she was honored with a badge with four stars.

In 1920, Utah Republican Party honored Lily Wolstenholme by choosing her as an alternate to Chicago's Republican Convention.


Abbott, Delila M. and Beverly J. White, comp. Women Legislators of Utah, 1896-1993. Salt Lake City: 1993.

"Behave Like Gentleman, Suggestion to Women," San Francisco Chronicle (San Franciso, California), September 16, 1915, 9. Accessed: September 1, 2018.

Carter, Kate B. "Notes on Utah Suffrage as told by Mrs. Wolstenholme to Kate C. Snow," Historical Pamphlet – Woman Suffrage in the West, October 1943, 300. Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, State Central Committee, 1943. Accessed: February 20, 2018.

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Lessons: Presidents of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, February 1978, 227-229. Accessed: February 20, 2018.

"Death Claims Civic Leader – Mrs. H. L. C. Wolstenholme, 80, Succumbs," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah) July 1, 1944, 6.

"Democrats are Urged to Pass Equal Suffrage," Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), December 8, 1915, 3. Accessed: April 7, 2018.

FamilySearch. "Family Tree – Harriet Lily Clayton Wolstenholme – 1863-1944," Accessed: February 20, 2018.

"Is Back Again in G.O.P. Fold," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), August 15, 1916, 12. Accessed: February 27, 2019.

"Mrs. Wolstenholme Named State Head of Voters' Council," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), October 17, 1915, 24. Accessed: February 26, 2019.

"Nine Delegates Going: Utah to Be Well Represented at Woman's Council," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 23, 1916, 8. Accessed: February 27, 2019.

"Organization of Women Perfected," Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) May 23, 1916, 14. Accessed: March 11, 2018.

"Republicans Honor Women: Trio of Leaders are Named to Attend Convention," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), May 11, 1920, 9. Accessed: February 27, 2019.

"Some Who Have Aided in the Development of Utah . . . Lily Clayton Wolstenholme," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), February 13, 1916, 29. Accessed: February 27, 2019.

"Steps Aside in Favor of Rival," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), September 16, 1916, 10. Accessed: August 29, 2018.

"Suffrage Workers Plan Vigorous Campaign," Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, Utah), September 4, 1916, 9. Accessed: March 9, 2018.

"Talbot is 'Ag'in'em," Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), December 8, 1915, 3. Accessed: July 10, 2018.

"Utah Women Can Answer Any Call," Salt Lake Herald-Republican (Salt Lake City, Utah), January 22, 1918, 12. Accessed: February 27, 2019.

"Utah Women Respond to National Service," Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), June 9, 1918, 17. Accessed: March 9, 2018.

"Woman Suffragists Cheered by Wilson," Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), December 7, 1915), 1, 3. Accessed: March 11, 2018.

"Women Support President – Exhibit Loyalty in Crisis." Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), March 13, 1917, 16. Accessed: March 9, 2018.

"Women Voters Form Council," Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, Utah), May 23, 1916, 9. Accessed: August 29, 2018.

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