Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Adele Goodwyn McNeel, 1872-1939
By Janelle Zetty, Head of Cataloging, Edith Garland Dupré Library, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Adele Goodwyn was born on November 6, 1872, in Montgomery, Alabama, and spent her childhood at the family homestead in Robinson Springs, near Montgomery. Her father was Albert Tyler Goodwyn, a Confederate soldier, and commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans. Her mother was Priscilla Tyler Goodwyn, the granddaughter of John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States. Adele Goodwyn's mother was active in the community and "was instrumental in establishing women's clubs on a state and national level," so much so that in 1952 the Priscilla Goodwyn Civic Club was established in her honor.
Before marriage, Adele Goodwyn taught at the girls' high school in Montgomery. On November 5, 1897, she wed John D. McNeel. McNeel was a native of South Carolina and served as secretary to Alabama Governors B.B. Comer and Edward A. O'Neal. Later, he became president of the Guaranty Savings, Building & Loan Association, and also served as the collector of internal revenue. Also, he was the first administrator of the State Alcoholic Control Board.
Adele Goodwyn McNeel advocated for women's suffrage in 1919 by speaking at a luncheon given by the Equal Suffrage Association and serving as State chairperson of the Suffrage Ratification Committee. In 1920, she wrote the article "House-Cleaning is Planned as Women are Given Ballot, Declares Suffrage Leader" for the Birmingham News. The article supported women's suffrage and was part of a series authored by women suffrage leaders. Later that year, Adele Goodwyn McNeel became the first Alabama woman elected to membership on the Democratic National Committee. She was elected at the national convention in San Francisco and later retired after a four-year term. In 1921, she was chosen as president of the state legislative council. The council was organized to handle all proposed legal matters sponsored by women. She also participated in the state convention of the League of Women Voters in Birmingham. In 1926, Mrs. McNeel endorsed Colonel Bibb Graves, a candidate for the Alabama Democratic nomination for governor. Graves was inaugurated as governor in 1927.
Like her mother, Adele Goodwyn McNeel was active in the community. During World War I, she supported the troops by serving as the state director of the fifth Liberty Loan campaign and received recognition for her outstanding work. Mrs. McNeel was the director of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, as well as an active member of St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church, and a member of the Highland Book Club. In 1935, Governor Bibb Graves appointed Mrs. McNeel to the board of public welfare. The board controlled the new state department of public welfare and was created under a bill signed by Governor Graves. Mrs. McNeel also served as president of the board of control of the Alabama Boys Industrial School in Birmingham. The school was founded in the 1910s as part of the state's juvenile delinquency program. In 1940, a year after Mrs. McNeel's passing, a new building was dedicated to her memory. It was named the Adele Goodwyn McNeel building, and the campus presently exists as part of the Alabama Department of Youth Services.
Adele Goodwyn McNeel passed away at her home in Birmingham on April 28, 1939. She was survived by her husband and two daughters, Letitia and Hulda. She was 66 years old.
A photograph of Ms. McNeel can be found in The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), April 29, 1939, p. 5.
"Alabama Topics." The Luverne Journal and The Crenshaw County News (Luverne, Alabama), Dec. 22, 1921, p. 3. Newspapers.com (website)
"Annual Report of Superintendent of Schools." The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Oct. 19, 1894, p. 7. Newspapers.com (website)
"Civil Service Bill is Signed, Senator Fletcher Named to Public Welfare Board." The Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama), Aug. 28, 1935, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Democratic Party Gives National Political Place to Mrs. J.D. McNeel." The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), Jun. 29, 1920, p. 21. Newspapers.com (website)
"House-Cleaning is Planned as Women are Given Ballot, Declares Suffrage Leader." The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), Sep. 12, 1920, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
Johnson, Larry. "Robinson Springs Village." The Wetumpka Herald, Oct. 9, 2018. https://www.thewetumpkaherald.com/elmorecountyliving/robinson-springs-village/article_bdfb5d3f-bfc9-50d8-ba7b-f035fefd91d9.html.
"Literary Retreat Offers Introduction to Walker Percy's 'The Moviegoer'." The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Dec. 18, 2011, p. 39. Newspapers.com (website)
"Married in Alabama." The Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Nov. 5, 1897, p. 3. Newspapers.com (website)
"McNeel School." Alabama Department of Youth Services, Aug. 15, 2019. https://dys.alabama.gov/mcneel-school.
"Mrs. J.D. McNeel Dies in Birmingham." The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Apr. 29, 1939, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Mrs. J.D. McNeel Dies, Prominent Alabamian." The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), Apr. 30, 1939, p. 9. Newspapers.com (website)
"Mrs. John D. McNeel Supporting Col. Graves." The Times (Montgomery, Alabama), May 4, 1926, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Personal Mention." The Montgomery Times (Montgomery, Alabama), Jun. 5, 1919, p. 3. Newspapers.com (website)
"Priscilla Goodwyn is the Youngest Civic Club in the Communities." The Wetumpka Herald (Wetumpka, Alabama), Sep. 21, 1961, p. 2. Newspapers.com (website)
"Prominent Alabamian Passes at Residence Here." The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), Apr. 29, 1939, p. 5. Newspapers.com (website)
"Suffrage to Win, Says Mrs. M'Neel." The Montgomery Times (Montgomery, Alabama), Jul. 19, 1920, p. 7. Newspapers.com (website)
"To a Friend of Errant Boys, Industrial School Will Dedicate Building to Memory of Mrs. Adele Goodwyn McNeel." The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), Dec. 4, 1940, p. 11. Newspapers.com (website)
"Women to Work for Victory Loan." The Evergreen Courant (Evergreen, Alabama), Apr. 2, 1919, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)