Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary Gertrude O'Meara (Pardee), 1880-1965
By Shanna Stevenson, independent historian, with assistance from granddaughters Suzanne Pardee and Loraine Pardee Watt.
Mary Gertrude O'Meara was born in Wisconsin in 1880 to Thomas and Mary O'Meara, the oldest of seven children. Her family moved to Seattle in the late 1880s.
She was a 1904 graduate of the University of Washington where she was an assistant in the Department of Education and she was a speaker at the "University Pilgrimage before graduation." She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Washington in 1911 when they added a chapter there, according to her family. After college graduation she taught in Walla Walla and then at Broadway High School in Seattle. According to her family, she also taught on the Kitsap Peninsula as high school History and Civics teacher, and later came out of retirement during World War II to serve as a high school principal.
By 1906 O'Meara was active in the suffrage movement and was a speaker at the Washington Equal Suffrage Association (WESA) convention that year. She was part of the lobbying force in Olympia during February 1909 as the women's suffrage constitutional amendment bill went through the Washington State Senate.
O'Meara was headquarters officer for WESA during the 1910 Washington State suffrage amendment ratification campaign at the Arcade Building in Seattle as well as Chair of Standing Committee of Washington Equal Suffrage Association in 1909 and Auditor of the King County Equality Club in 1909. She was also President of the Board of Managers of the College Equal Suffrage League - Washington Branch.
She was a member of the staff of the "Votes for Women" newspaper published during the 1909-1910 campaign. Edited by Missouri Hanna, the paper was the primary published organ during the suffrage amendment ratification campaign. She also manned the WESA headquarters during the 1910 campaign.
An in-demand speaker and described as "one of the most powerful and enthusiastic workers for the cause of women in the state" she spoke at several venues during the 1909-1910 campaign, including at a Labor Day event in 1910 in Bellingham, at the Old Soldier's Home in Retsil, the 1909 Puyallup Fair and at a Cowlitz County suffrage gathering.
Leading Washington suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe called upon O'Meara to speak for the Washington Equal Suffrage Association after the November 1910 amendment ratification victory in Washington State. O'Meara also spoke at the WESA banquet to organize the National Council of Women Voters (NCWV) in November 1910. The NCWV was organized to bring together women in voting states to advocate for women's voting rights nationally as well as other equality issues.
During the 1910 suffrage amendment ratification campaign, O'Meara ran for King County Superintendent of Schools but was unsuccessful. She made history in 1910 as the first woman delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee.
She stayed active politically, often for the Democratic Party, and was a committee member of the Women's League for the Wilson-Marshall ticket in 1912. She supported George Cotterill for Seattle Mayor in 1912 and spoke at his campaign kickoff. In 1912, she was Vice-President of the Women's National Democratic League. O'Meara was a member of the Seattle Central Council of Society Agencies in 1914. She remained active throughout the nineteen teens - often addressing the Seattle Women's Club where she chaired the Political Science Department. She spoke on a variety of topics before the club. She was also a member of the Seattle Council Social Agencies. In 1913 she ran unsuccessfully for the Seattle School Board.
O'Meara married Otway Pardee in 1919 and they had one son, Otway O'Meara Pardee, and they later divorced. In 1936 she ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Democratic ticket under the slogan, "Equality of Opportunity for All Under the Law."
Among her campaign statements in 1936:
"As a Democrat, Liberal, Progressive, I believe that unless monopolies are eradicated, they must be publicly-owned and operated, or they will come to own and operate the public."#x200e#x200e"Honesty, intelligence and courage applied to lawmaking and enforcement of law will bring about that more equitable distribution of the national income essential to a realization of the American ideal of equality of opportunity for all under the law."
Mary O'Meara Pardee died in 1965 in Seattle.
Information from Pardee Family.
Page 031 : [Campaign Card: O'Meara]," PRIMARILY WASHINGTON, accessed March 27, 2020, http://primarilywashington.org/items/show/29063.
Page 038 : Officers of the Washington College Suffrage league," PRIMARILY WASHINGTON, accessed March 28, 2020, http://primarilywashington.org/items/show/22053.
Page 055: Entire Page, "PRIMARILY WASHINGTON, accessed April 22, 2020, http://primarilywashington.org/items/show/25520.
Page 100 : State Correspondence," PRIMARILY WASHINGTON, accessed March 28, 2020, http://primarilywashington.org/items/show/29219.--speeches
Seattle Daily Times, June 14, 1904, pg. 2; Seattle Daily Times, October 13, 1906, pg. 2; Seattle Daily Times, July 12, 1909, pg. 3; Seattle Daily Times, November 7, 1909, pg.3; Seattle Daily Times, September 18, 1910, pg. 11; Seattle Daily Times, October 10, 1909, pg. 22; Seattle Daily Times, November 18, 1910, pg. 19; Seattle DailyTimes, January 6, 1912, pg. 3; Seattle Daily Times, January 16, 1912, pg. 9; Seattle Daily Times, January 28, 1912, pg. 24; Seattle Daily Times, July 10, 1912, pg. 13; Seattle Daily Times, September 12, 1912; Seattle Daily Times, December 3, 1913, pg. 9; Seattle Daily Times, November 28, 1913, pg. 5.Seattle Daily Times, December 31, 1914, pg. 7; Seattle Daily Times, January 20, 1916 pg. 7; Seattle Daily Times, August 4, 1936 pg. 24; Seattle Daily Times, April 21, 1965, pg. 70
"Seattle Letter," Davenport Times, October 7, 1910.
Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 24, 1909. "Teacher Seeks Position as County Superintendent," Seattle Post Intelligencer, October 15, 1910; "Women's Voting Add to Politics Unknown Factor," Seattle Post Intelligencer, November 10, 1910.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, 6 volumes (Rochester and New York City, 1881-1922), 4:674.
Votes for Women Volume 1, Number 1, pg. 2; Votes for Women, Volume 1, Number 2 pg. 9.
"Woman to Talk on Votes of Women," Bellingham Herald, September 10, 1910.
"Women Who are Leading the Suffrage Movement in Washington," Tacoma Daily News, September 19, 1910, pg. 15.