Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ina Isabel Collins Stanley, 1883-1946

By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, Virginia

Woman Suffragist

Ina Isabel Collins was born May 1, 1883, in Ohio to Cornelius C. Collins and Emma Elizabeth Anderson Collins. Before her fifth birthday, her father had moved the family to Santa Ana, California, where he became a prominent fruit packer and shipper. Ina graduated from Santa Ana High school in June 1902 and became a teacher in the local schools. On October 12, 1912, she married Frederick William Stanley at her parents' home. Her husband was her high school classmate and had come to the U.S. from England with his parents in 1889. After the wedding, the couple made their home in Orlando, Florida, where Frederick performed reclamation work for the federal government.

Not long after moving to Florida, Ina Stanley became involved in the fight for woman suffrage there. On November 4, 1913, Stanley met with Mary Safford, other local suffragists, and representatives from the Florida Federated Women's Clubs to form a temporary State Suffrage League. Stanley was selected as secretary and was on the committee to draft the new organization's constitution and bylaws. Just three days later, at another meeting Stanley read the constitution and bylaws, which were adopted by the organization called the Florida Equal Suffrage Association (FESA). Stanley remained its corresponding secretary. In December 1913, the FESA started hosting "fellowship" teas to spread the word about the organization. At the first tea, Stanley participated in a skit as "Mrs. Absolutely Sure," representing a woman who was "firmly convinced of the right of every woman to help direct the affairs of the nation." She debated another suffragist who took the part of "Mrs. Doubtful," who, of course was eventually persuaded to support woman suffrage by planning the entertainment at the teas.

In January 1914, the FESA did not include Stanley among its officers, but she continued being involved. At the May gathering, which also included representatives of the men's equal suffrage league, Stanley gave an entertaining speech that was described as "bright, witty, and much applauded." On October 14, 1914, Stanley accepted the presidency of the newly formed Orlando Equal Suffrage League. And by the time the FESA held its first statewide annual meeting in December 1914, Stanley was once again its secretary.

In January 1915, Stanley was re-elected president of the Orlando Equal Suffrage League. Its leaders planned a showing of the suffrage photo-play "Your Girl and Mine." In February, Stanley began asking for names of people who would be willing to help with a suffrage booth at the Mid-Winter Fair. The fair began with a parade of floats and cars, including six cars of suffragists that were decorated in the suffrage colors of yellow and white, bore suffrage pennants, as well as the names of suffrage states. State suffrage officers rode in the first car, with Stanley and other officers of the local league in the second car; members of the Men's Suffrage League, including Fred Stanley, were in the last car. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, spoke for an hour during the fair before a crowd of thousands of people at the grandstand; Stanley was among those on the platform with her. The booth in the Exposition Hall at the fair was outlined in yellow and white bunting with a large sign overhead that said "Equal Suffrage." The Orlando Evening Star reported

"Within [the booth] are many placards and cartoons picturing the growth of the movement, and a map showing the States and territories in which women have been granted the vote. Much literature is being distributed, and visitors to the booth who favor equal rights register their names, these to be used later in proving to the legislators the interest manifested in this part of Florida in Woman's suffrage."

In November 1915, Stanley presided over a meeting of the Orlando Equal Suffrage League at which they passed resolutions to support an amendment to the city charter granting municipal suffrage to women and to join the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs. Both efforts were successful. In December 1915, Stanley was elected as one of seven women to represent the Orlando Equal Suffrage League at the Florida Equal Suffrage Association's state meeting in Miami in January 1916.

On January 12, 1916, Stanley thanked members of the Orlando Equal Suffrage League for their support and announced that she could not run for re-election because she planned to be away from the city. In February, she and her husband moved to Washington, D.C., where her husband continued his work for the federal government. However, Stanley was back in Orlando in 1917 for several months and, in April 1917, took part in an English comedy called "How the Vote Was Won."

In January 1918, Stanley had a son, Frederick, born in Washington, D.C. Within the year, the Stanleys had moved to Los Angeles, where their daughter, Betty, was born in 1919. The 1930 U.S. Census shows that Stanley was a widow living in San Mateo County, California, with her two children and teaching private school.

Stanley's life had a tragic ending. Her son was killed in Africa during World War II. Then on October 21, 1946, Stanley returned from a walk by the ocean to her home in Moss Beach, California, to find that her daughter had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. The daughter had been grieving for her brother and said in her suicide note that she felt she was losing her mind and could not go on. Stanley then wrote a note herself saying that she could not go on without her daughter and that she had lost all her loved ones. She left everything to her brother and directed that their bodies be cremated. She also sent a note to a friend asking them to go to the garage at her home where they would find her. Then she joined her daughter in the car and succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.


1930 U.S. Census, California. Township 3, San Mateo County, p. 3A. Digital images.

"A Big Suffrage Meeting." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) December 2, 1914, p. 1.

"Big Pageant Opened Fair on Tuesday." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) February 11, 1915, p. 6.

"Equal Suffrage League is Formed at Orlando." The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida) November 8, 1913, p. 2.

"Fellowship Tea was a Novel Entertainment." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) December 20, 1913, p. 8.

Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 115. [LINK]

"How the Vote Was Won." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) April 29, 1916, p. 5.

"Mother Joins Girl in Coast Suicide." The Times (San Mateo, California) October 23, 1946, p. 1.

"Mrs. Fred Stanley President of Equal Suffrage League." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) October 14, 1914, p. 4.

"Officers for Year are Elected by the Equal Suffrage League." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) January 12, 1916, p. 5.

"Orlando League Begins Its Work." Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida) November 7, 1915, p. 6.

"Orlando Society." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) February 12, 1915, p. 5.

"Santa Ana." The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), June 23, 1902, p. 10.

"Stanley-Collins." Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California), October 12, 1912, p. 5.

"State Committee of Suffragists Meets." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) December 17, 1913, p. 1.

"Suffrage League to Send Delegates to State Meeting to be Held in Miami." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) December 9, 1915, p. 4.

"Temporary Organization for Equal Suffrage." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) November 5, 1913, p. 1.

"The Little Hen Feeds the Little Rooster." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) May 1, 1914, p. 4.

"Woman's Part at the Fair has much to do with its Success." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) February 10, 1915, p. 5.

"Your Girl and Mine." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) January 13, 1915, p. 5.

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