Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Harriett Lee Henderson, 1865-1946

By David Gray, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Harriett "Hattie" Lee Henderson was born November 13, 1865, in Columbia County, Arkansas, to John Barry and Nancy Judson (Berry) Henderson. By 1870, the Henderson family had moved to Harrison County, Texas. Harriett Henderson never married.

Henderson supported prohibition, and she became a crusader and national organizer for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Although woman suffrage was not a topic listed for Henderson's many events, she supported women's right to vote as a means to advocate for temperance. In 1898, Henderson observed efforts in Washington state. In her report to the WCTU, she wrote: "The spirit of workers in this State is most beautiful....If the Suffrage Amendment is lost it will not be the fault of the W.C.T.U or Mrs. Hill, the State E[qual] S[uffrage] A[ssocation] President, and her women." This alignment of temperance and suffrage continued in Henderson's work, especially after she transitioned to New Mexico.

As early as 1899, she and fellow organizer, Maude Lorene Greene, paired up and travelled across the United States, encouraging women to advocate for temperance. Greene was known for her "chalk talks," where she would create illustrations while lecturing. According to the national WCTU report in 1908, both women were based in Marshall, Texas.

By 1914, Henderson and Greene established a residence in East Vaughn, New Mexico. Their temperance work would be useful in the state, and Henderson was elected president of the New Mexico WCTU. Henderson and Greene joined New Mexico organizers like Katherine Patterson in merging temperance and suffrage work. In 1917, Henderson and the WCTU successfully pushed a prohibition amendment at the state level, which is noted in the History of Woman Suffrage. In 1918, Henderson summarized her work as president of the New Mexico WCTU in a piece for the Union Signal called "New Mexico's 'Golden Harvest.'" She mostly described the distribution of temperance literature and the enthusiasm for the cause. Henderson served as president from 1914-1917, and she maintained other roles in the state organization through the 1920s.

According to the 1920 census, Henderson and Greene resided at the same address, and Greene listed Henderson as her "partner" in the field "relation to head of household." Greene died in July 1928, and Henderson had her body interred in Vaughn. In the years that followed, Henderson returned to Texas and lived with a niece in Beaumont. She died November 14, 1946, and is buried with her parents and siblings in Woodlawn, Texas.


Deaths and Funerals. "Greene." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 1, 1928, p.8.

Find a Grave. Harriett Lee Henderson. Accessed February 28, 2019.

Henderson, Harriet L. "New Mexico's 'Golden Harvest.'" Union Signal 34, no. 4 (January 24, 1918), p.13.

"Miss Henderson Taken by Death at Fort Worth." Marshall News Messenger (Marshall, Tex.). November 14, 1946, p.2.

"Mrs. Louise Buell Honored." Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N. Mex.). July 21, 1914, p.2.

"Solona, New Mexico." Tucumcari News and Tucumcari Times (Tucumcari, N. Mex.). March 28, 1908, p.31.

Tyler, Helen E. Where Prayer and Purpose Meet: The WCTU Story, 1874-1949. Evanston: Signal Press, 1949, p.274.

United States Census 1870, 1880, s.v. "Hattie Henderson, Harrison, Tex." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1910, s.v. "Harriet Henderson, Dallas, Tex." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1920, s.v. "Harriett Henderson, East Vaughn, New Mex." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1940, s.v. "Harriett L. Henderson, Beaumont, Tex." HeritageQuest.

"W.C.T.U. National Organizers." Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nev.). October 11, 1898, p.2.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Report of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union: Thirty-Fifth Annual Convention Held in the Auditorium, Denver, Colorado, October 23-28, 1908. WCTU, 1908.

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