Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Harriet Noble, 1851-1919

By Aaron Schwister, student, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI

Treasurer (1909-1911), IN, Women School League; Field Secretary (1911-1915), IN, Women's Franchise League of Indiana.; Treasurer (1911-1915), Indianapolis, IN, Women's franchise league; Demia Butler Chair (1883-1995), Butler University, Indianapolis, IN; President (1895-1903), Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, Catherine Merrill Club

Harriet Noble was born in 1851 in Centerville, Indiana to Lazarus and Catharine Noble. Lazarus Noble was a lawyer, and his wife Catharine maintained the home. Harriet never married. Harriet Noble graduated from Vassar University in 1873, earning a teaching degree. She then served as the Demia Butler Chair from 1883-1895. While attending the school, she became the president of the Catherine Merrill Club until 1903. Later in her life, she worked for various women's suffrage associations. Her most notable contributions were as treasurer for the Women's School League from 1909-1911 and as field secretary for the Women's Franchise League of Indiana from 1911-1915. She resigned from the organizations in 1915 due to failing health. She died on April 7, 1919 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Harriet Noble started her career as a feminist before joining the women's suffrage association. In her youth, she began collecting various newspaper articles related to the issues of women, and she collected them up to 1904. She became the Demia Butler Chair in 1883. The chair was a special role created to allow women to teach at the college level. In inheriting the seat, she became the second women to teach at the college level. While teaching, she made her students study poetry and literature, create criticisms of material, and produce their own writing. Her own students described her as a feminist by the way she dressed. "In an age when small waists, many petticoats and tight shoes were restricting the average women, Miss Noble wore made-to-order common-sense shoes and adopted a reform costume with straight lines, all the weight suspended from the shoulders." While serving as the Butler Chair, she also became president of the Catherine Merrill Club. The club honored the previous Butler Chair, Catherine Merrill. The club met to exchange their writings, and to discuss relevant issues to women. During this time, Harriet Noble produced various articles such as 'The Vice of Novel Reading". Following her time as the Demia Butler Chair, Harriet Noble switched to joining women's organizations. She served as treasurer for the School Women League from 1909-1911. The School Women League attempted to get a woman elected to the school board. The group succeeded in getting a woman elected to the school board. However, not much changed after she was elected. The School Women League then decided to pursue suffrage. They changed the name of their organization to the Women's Franchise League of Indiana, and she served as field secretary from 1911-1915. In addition, during this time she served as treasurer for the Women's Franchise League of Indianapolis. She remained active in the organizations until 1915, but she then resigned due to health issues. She died in 1919, one year before women gained the national right to vote.


"A Suffrage Luncheon." Fort Wayne News. October 19, 1912.

Adams, Wendy L, and Chelsea Sutton. Members of the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana 1915-1917. Indiana Historical Society, 2011.

Allis, Lois N. LAZARUS NOBLE FAMILY MATERIALS, CA. 1876-1919. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 2014.

Catharine Noble in the 1870 United States Federal Census, Catharine Noble in the 1870 United States Federal Census § (1870).

Donahue, Patricia, and Gretchen F Moon, eds. Local Histories Reading the Archives of Composition. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.

"Endowment for the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature at North Western Christian University, Later Renamed Butler University." Indiana Memory. Accessed November 11, 2019.

Harriet Noble in the Obituary Index, 1800s-current, Harriet Noble in the Obituary Index, 1800s-current § (1919).

Harper, Ida H, ed. The History of Women's Suffrage . Vol. 6. J.J Little and Ives Company, 1922.

Lazarus Noble In the 1870 United States Federal Census, Lazarus Noble In the 1870 United States Federal Census § (1870).

"Looking for Picture." History Hub. Accessed November 11, 2019.

"Personal and Society." The Indianapolis Journal, October 13, 1895.

"Saturday's Companies." The Indianapolis Journal, March 1, 1903.

"Sessions of the Western Association of Writers Grows in Interest ." Fort Wayne News, June 30, 1897.

"Society Events." The Indianapolis Journal, January 7, 1894.

The Vassar Miscellany . Vassar College, 1900.

Vassar Quarterly. Vol. 5. Vassar University, 1919.

"Who's Entertaining." Evansville Press, April 16, 2015.

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