Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Alice Lorraine Daly, 1883-1945

By Casey Sullivan, student & Molly P. Rozum, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota

In 1922, Alice Lorraine Daly became South Dakota's first woman gubernatorial candidate; she began her political career as a suffragist. Daly was born into an Irish Catholic family, headed by George Daly and Mary Egan Daly, on 11 February 1883 in St. Paul Park, Minnesota. She spent some of her early years in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and had three sisters and three brothers. Daly earned a BA and MA from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She also studied at the Emerson College of Oratory Expression and Physical Culture in Boston. In 1913, she called off an engagement to Idaho Senator James Brady and remained single the rest of her life. By 1915, she headed the Department of Expression at the South Dakota Normal School at Madison. Daly also chaired the Women's National Peace Party in 1915, and Jane Addams appointed her to be delegate for South Dakota at the International Congress of Women in The Hague in April 1916. Locally, she presented lectures on "Peace" and read dramatic pieces written by students in the American School Peace League. A "dynamic performer," according to one news report, Daly became "the best lady speaker in the state."

Daly played her most extensive role in South Dakota's woman suffrage movement in the successful 1918 referendum campaign. South Dakota Universal Franchise League (SDUFL) president Mamie Pyle and National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) field organizer Marie McMahon hoped to test their "plan of work" in Daly's Lake County and felt "a great deal of joy" over her initial organizing. Lake County contributed more financially to the state organization than its assigned allotment. Daly made sure the county's newspapers supported woman suffrage and printed pro-referendum material sent by NASWA. As debt bloomed at state headquarters, Pyle hired Daly to fundraise during the summer, which Daly did in addition to publicity work for the Madison Normal School. Daly told Pyle she was "simply wild to help in a substantial way the South Dakota women get the vote." She spoke to farmers, bankers, and businessmen in small towns. She started mini-campaigns among teachers, stenographers, bookkeepers, and newspaper women. Daly continued to raise money even as Madison Normal School transformed its "Girl's Dormitory" into an Influenza Hospital, and she volunteered as a nurse. Lake County gave woman suffrage 63.6% support.

By summer of 1919, Alice Lorraine Daly had been appointed chair of the state's new League of Women Voters' department for the "Protection of Women in Industry." In this position she urged teachers to unionize and argued for "equal pay for equal work." She also lectured on "Democracy and Education" and took part in a mock election sponsored by the Minnehaha Franchise League and Woman's Alliance in Sioux Falls "to show the new voters the process required to take advantage of their citizenship" and "to demonstrate the methods used in voting." She attended the 1920 convention of the League of Women Voters in Chicago.

Daly ran for the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1920 as a Nonpartisan League (NPL) candidate. However, in October, she resigned from her teaching position at the Madison Normal School in protest over the political dismissal of another teacher. During the campaign, she ripped into the state's Republican lawmakers "for the fact that South Dakota ranks thirty-second in education while North Dakota ranks sixteenth." She spoke about the unfortunate economic system that forced farm families to take their children from school so they could labor for money for the home. She argued for "a more thorough system of education" and for change in the "economic system." Daly lost the election.

The 1920 campaign became Alice Lorraine Daly's start in party politics for the Nonpartisan League and farmer-labor party coalitions. In 1921 she spoke at a Nonpartisan League picnic at which a fundraiser netted several hundred dollars for the "ladies auxiliary" for use to educate "the new women voters of South Dakota" on politics and economics. In 1922, Daly became the first female to run for governor of South Dakota on a Nonpartisan League ticket; she had the support of many farmers and Sioux Falls had a "Daly for governor club." She appeared at the South Dakota State Federation of Labor's third annual convention. She criticized the labor conditions at the state-owned coal mine and spoke up for striking railway shopmen in their "right of assemblage and free speech." She also supported old age pensions. By 1924 Daly chaired South Dakota's Farmer-Labor Party from a headquarters in Mitchell. She headlined the "national farmer-labor progressive convention" in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she spoke against "militarism" and for farmers and laborers, saying, "Let us go not where practical politics lead us but where humanity calls us." That year, she chaired the Farmer-Labor convention in South Dakota, but in an attempt at fusion, the state's Democrat Party nominated Daly for U.S Representative, which she declined. Daily moved to Sioux Falls where she continued to chair the Farmer-Labor Party.

By 1930, Daly lived in Aberdeen and worked as publisher of an Aberdeen newspaper. She also managed "the Daly apartments." Alice Lorraine Daly died in 16 October 1945. Local newspapers mourned her as "a flaming firebrand in politics" who "fought for the principles in which she believed with courage, vigor, and resourcefulness."

Images of Alice Lorraine Daily found at; 13 Apr 1922 Argus-Leader article.




"A Vigorous Crusader." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 26 Oct 1945, p. 6.

"Alice Daly Attacks Strike Injunction." Madison Daily Leader, 11 Sep 1922, Image 4.

"Alice Lorraine Daly," University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, p. 37, U.S. School Yearbooks, 1900-1999, database on-line,

"Alice Lorraine Daly, C.H. Dillon and Others Address Meeting Favoring Plan." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2 Oct 1922, p. 7.

Anemone, Yearbook 1916, Madison Normal School, Dakota State University Archives, Madison, South Dakota.

"Announce Program For S.D. Labor Federation Meeting Here Oct 2, 3." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 25 Sep 1922, p. 7.

Easton, Patricia O'Keefe. "Opposition to Woman Suffrage in South Dakota." (MA thesis, University of South Dakota, 1982), pp. 133-135.

"Famous State Politico Dies." Rapid City Journal, South Dakota, 24 Oct 1945, p. 2.

"Farmer-Labor Group Has Row Over Primary." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 18 Apr 1928, p. 1.

Find a Grave, database and images,; see Alice Lorraine Daly.

"Forgets Utopia When Financial Problems Loom." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 18 Jun 1924, pp. 1-2.

"Give La Follette A Congress," advertisement, Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 18 Oct 1924, p. 3.

"Gladys Pyle Candidacy Recalls 1922 Campaign of Miss Alice L. Daly." Deadwood Pioneer-Times, South Dakota, 23 Mar 1920, p. 1

"Governor McMaster Makes Pointer Reply to Letter from Alice Lorraine Daly." Black Hills Weekly, Deadwood, South Dakota, 27 Sep 1922, p. 1.

"Governor Shows Power by Obtaining Endorsement of Administration." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2 Dec 1925, p1.

"Labor Federation to Back Candidacy Miss Alice L. Daly." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 3 Oct 1922, p. 2.

Lahlum, Lori Ann and Molly P. Rozum. "'We Will Never Halt Till the Prize is Won': Suffrage on the Northern Great Plains." In Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains, edited by Lahlum and Molly P. Rozum, 1-30. Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2019.

Lansing, Michael J. Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015, pp. 243-244, 260,

"Leaders Claim League Picnic Great Success." Madison Daily Leader, South Dakota, 8 Sep 1921, Image 1.

"Leader Dies." Deadwood Pioneer-Times, South Dakota, 25 Oct 1945.

"Minnehaha League of Women Voters Meet." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, 1 May 1920, p. 19.

"Miss Daly Resigns as Candidate." Rapid City Journal, South Dakota, 3 Dec 1925, p. 1.

"Miss Daly Resigns in Rebuke of the Book Trust Politics." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 27 Oct 1920, p. 3.

"N.P. L. to Have County Worker." Madison Daily Leader, South Dakota, 11 Aug 1922, Image 1.

"Over 1500 Attend Big State Convention at Mitchell Last Week." Sisseton Weekly Standard, South Dakota, 17 Jun 1921, Image 1.

Mamie Shields Pyle Papers, Richardson Collection, Archives and Special Collections, The University of South Dakota; See correspondence: McMahon to Daly, 16 Feb 1918; Pyle to Daly, 6, 12, 16, 31 Feb, 13, 31 May, 19 Jun, 23, 30 Oct 1918, 6 Jun 1919; Daly to Pyle, 19 Apr, 5 Jun, 11, 13 Sept, 21, 23, 24 Oct, 9 Nov and n.d. 1918 .

"Says New Party Might Relieve." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 13 Apr 1922, p. 4.

"Six Millions for Highways." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, 3 Feb 1919, p. 1.

South Dakota State Census, 1915, 1925, 1935, database on-line,; see Alice Lorraine Daly.

"Story of the Toronto Mob." Sisseton Weekly Standard, South Dakota, 30 July 1920, Image 1.

"Tom Ayres and Miss Alice Daly Explain Issues at Big N.P. Picnic Here Thursday." Sisseton Weekly Standard, South Dakota, 9 Jul 1920, p. 1.

United States Federal Census, 1900, 1910, 1930, database on-line,; see Alice Lorraine Daly.

U.S. City Directories, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1927, 1928, 1940, database on-line,; Alice Lorraine Daly.

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, database on-line,; see Alice Lorraine Daly.

Untitled. Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 12 Jan 1916, p. 9; 13 Jan 1916, p. 10; 13 Mar 1919, p. 12; 10 Apr 1919, p. 14.

Untitled. Pierre Weekly Free Press, South Dakota, 6 May 1915, Image 5.

"Will Insist On Forming Union." Madison Daily Leader, 30 Oct. 1919, Image 1.

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