Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Grace Mather Hanchett, 1874-1929
By Colleen Seale, Selector for Women's, Gender and LGBT+ Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Woman Suffrage Activist
Grace Mather was born on March 12, 1874, in New York and died on August 29, 1929, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. In Manhattan, New York, on February 22, 1898, she married Henry Granger Hanchett, a homeopathic physician, who in his retirement devoted himself to music as a concert pianist, author and professor of theoretical music. They were the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters. They primarily lived in New York, but also lived in Washington DC, Nantucket, Massachusetts and in Florida for several years.
Grace Mather Hanchett was the daughter of Emily Seyre and S. Talmage Mather. Her grandfather introduced the manufacture of high-quality printing ink in 1816. Her father also carried on the family business, George Mathers' Sons Ink Works in Jersey City, New Jersey, which was featured in an 1880 issue of the Scientific American. In her youth, she was the head of a New York chapter of the Agassiz Association dedicated to the study of natural history.
As early as May 1916, Hanchett was involved in suffrage-related activities in Florida, including holding office, organizing social events, giving talks, participating in marches, and writing letters. Hanchett served as President of the Orlando Equal Suffrage League from 1917 to 1919. In April 1918, the Orlando Sentinel published her invitation to all women who were "actively or passively interested in suffrage" to march in the Liberty Loan parade in white dresses with red and blue sashes. In January 1919, Hanchett attended the Equal Suffrage War Workers Convention held in Orlando, and in April 1919 she was among the first women to register to vote in Orlando for local elections. To gain the vote in Florida, the Orlando Suffrage League pursued efforts to change local town charters under Hanchett's leadership, and Orlando's was among the first in the state to be successfully changed to allow women to vote.
At a May 1919 meeting of the Orlando Suffrage League, a letter was read expressing appreciation to Hanchett for her service as president. It said, in part, "it is most fitting that we should acknowledge the arduous work she has accomplished for the League; draw a lesson from her methods; and wish her Godspeed in the new life she is leaving us to enter upon. The records show that in the two and one-half years she has been our president, she has attended every League meeting; met the executive board in every monthly session; and attended all other functions given by the League."
After moving away from Florida, Hanchett remained active in women's rights activities and was elected Vice President of the Rhode Island League of Women Voters in 1929.
Hanchett is buried in the New North Cemetery in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
"American Industries, No. 38." Scientific American, Vol. 42, No. 15, April 10, 1880, p. 229. Retrieved April 6, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/26072697.
"A Proud Moment in Their Lives." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), April 26, 1919, p. 5.
"End of Social Life." Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), February 20, 1898.
"Equal Suffrage League." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), December 4, 1917, p. 7.
"Equal Suffrage League Outlines Program for the Coming Season." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida), May 13, 1916, p. 5.
"Events of the Week." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), May 16, 1919, p. 5.
Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women: Hearings Before the Committee on Woman Suffrage, House of Representatives, Sixty-Fifth Congress, Second Session, on H. J. Res. 200. January 3, 4, 5, and 7, 1918, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1918.
"Front Matter." Scientific American, Vol. 42, No. 15, April 10, 1880. Retrieved April 6, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/26072676.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 116. [LINK]
"Married." The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), February 23, 1898, p.1.
"Suffragists." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), April 4, 1918, p. 5.