Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Myrta L. Jones (Cannon), 1860-1954
By Madi Barnett, undergraduate student, University of Maryland, College Park
Myrtle Leonora "Myrta" Jones was born on November 15, 1860 in Cleveland, Ohio, to parents James Milton Jones and Ermina Wealthy Barrows Jones. She had two siblings: Jessie Barrows Jones and Florence Wade Jones Sherwin. Jones grew up in Cleveland and attended college there; at one point, she gave a lecture at the Western Reserve College about women and children in industry. After finishing her college education, Jones moved to New York City for a while, but later returned to Ohio in 1894.
Back in Cleveland, Jones assisted in founding the Fortnightly Musical Club. This club is one of the oldest music clubs in the area, and it allowed exposure to a variety of musical groups while expanding community interest in music. Many orchestras and other types of artists have performed at the club over the years.
In addition to Jones's contributions to the world of music, she also became a member of the Consumers League of Ohio in 1901. This organization fought for the welfare of men and women in the workplace; in particular, it advocated for safe working conditions, equal pay, regular working hours, day care centers, and the prevention of child labor. Jones served as the president from 1908 to 1920, and the campaigns that she helped launch focused on better working conditions for women. Specifically, she wanted women working in department stores to have shorter hours during the Christmas shopping season. In addition, Jones helped the organization assert itself more; rather than just supporting legislative proposals brought forth by others, she assisted in creating the League's own legislative proposals. Jones was also the vice president of the National Consumers' League between the 1910s and 1920s.
During World War I, Jones advocated for the safety of women working in wartime factories through two different committees. In 1921, Jones directed the League's campaign for a minimum wage law to be passed in Ohio. Unfortunately, this campaign was unsuccessful, but the lack of success did not erase the efforts that were still made.
On top of the work that Jones did for two different branches of the Consumers League, she also helped organize the Alta House in Cleveland. The Alta House was a nursery designed to care for the children of immigrant Italian women while they worked. It later expanded to include services for the senior citizens living in the local community. Jones was active in the women's suffrage movement; in particular, she was a member of the League of Women Voters of Cleveland. The LWV advocated for the passing of the 19th Amendment and also fought for women to be included in legislation and other political matters. In particular, it supported legislation for women's education, women's welfare in the workplace, and children's welfare.
Jones married Henry White Cannon, a bank president and former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, in 1930. He passed away in 1934, and the couple had no children. Jones moved to New York City again in 1930 when she first married Cannon, but then she moved back to Ohio in 1952, where she ultimately lived out the rest of her life. She passed away on June 11th, 1954 at the age of 93, and she is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.
A portrait of Myrta L. Jones--credit: League of Women Voters of Ohio.
"Alta House." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ONLINE. 26 March 2020. https://case.edu/ech/articles/a/alta-house
"Consumers League of Ohio." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ONLINE. 26 March 2020. https://case.edu/ech/articles/c/consumers-league-ohio
"Fortnighlty Musical Club." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ONLINE. 26 March 2020. https://case.edu/ech/articles/f/fortnightly-musical-club
"Myrta L. Jones." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ONLINE. 26 March 2020. https://case.edu/ech/articles/j/jones-myrta-l
"League of Women Voters." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ONLINE. 26 March 2020. https://case.edu/ech/articles/l/league-women-voters-lwv-cleveland
"Myrta Jones Cannon Portrait." CONTENTdm, https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll32/id/27842/.
"Myrtle Leonora 'Myrta' Jones Cannon (1860-1954)." Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/73762066/myrtle-leonora-cannon.