Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Winslow Partridge, 1881-1958

By Andrea Wynn, independent historian

Mary Winslow Partridge was born on April 29, 1881 to Daniel Partridge and Lucie Ann Harris in Selma, Alabama. Daniel and Lucy Ann had five other children: Daniel Jr. (b. 1873), Preston Hughes (b. 1874), Lucy Green (b. 1876), Charles Stevens (b. 1879) and Mildred Cabell (b. 1883). On February 4, 1884, Mary's mother Lucie Ann died. Just three months later, her sister Mildred Cabell died at just under a year old. On March 18, 1888, Mary's father married Ellen Lee Field (b. 1865) in Mobile County, AL. They bore one child together: Robert Barnwell (b. 1891). Mary never married and did not have children. She died on October 12, 1958 in Selma, Alabama.

Mary Partridge, a legal secretary and strong supporter of the prohibition movement, is largely responsible for the resurgence of interest in woman suffrage in Alabama. In the late 1800s, early efforts were made to coordinate support across the state of Alabama. After women (and African-Americans and most poor whites) were denied voting rights during the 1901 Constitutional Convention, organized endeavors quickly fell apart. When the Prohibition vote failed in 1909, Miss Partridge decided that the only way to get to get the alcohol ban passed would be for women to be allowed to vote and push the vote through.

Miss Partridge reached out to Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), for guidance and received her full support. Miss Partridge put a "call" in the city newspapers and invited interested men and women to meet at Selma's Carnegie Library on March 29, 1910. There they established the Selma Woman Suffrage Association (SWSA) and Miss Partridge served as co-founder and president.

Inspired by Miss Partridge's words and works, several cities across the state of Alabama created their own suffrage groups over the next few years. On October 9, 1912, the Birmingham Equal Suffrage Association merged with the SWSA to found the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association (AESA). Miss Partridge served as vice president and state organizer and was also selected to attend the national convention in November 1912. Three months later, the first statewide AESA convention was held at Selma's Hotel Albert on January 29, 1913.

While the suffragettes' movement was highly effective, Miss Partridge was met with local opposition. There was a large contingent of powerful anti-suffragists in Selma. A group of local lawyers distributed an anonymous pamphlet decrying the dangers of suffrage to peace, white supremacy, and patriotism to the state of Alabama. This document, A Protest against Woman Suffrage in Alabama, was distributed to every member of the state legislature. In 1914, the suffrage bill failed by 12 votes.

** I found a single reference to Julia Partridge Hatch but could not find any additional information about her. Alston Fitts' "Selma" says that Julia was Mary Winslow's sister and was a founding member of the SWSA. I could not find any additional information about her including birth, death, husband, etc. I assume this is her sister Lucie but could not verify this information. **

SOURCES: U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Provo, UT. USA: Operations, Inc, 2015.

Fitts III, Alston. Selma: A Bicentennial History. Tuscaloosa:The University of Alabama Press, 2016.

Green, Elna C. Southern Strategies: Southern Women and the Woman Suffrage Question. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Rohr, Nancy M. "They are Too Sweet and Angelic to Reason," or How Women Got the Vote in Alabama

Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds. . The History of Woman Suffrage. Volume VI, 1922 [LINK]

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