Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Nancy Murray Mann, 1868-1961
By Kendall Clevenger & Joseph Hitt, Undergraduate Students, California University of Pennsylvania
Nancy Murray was born on August 21, 1868 in Harrison County, West Virginia. She was the daughter of Reverend Patrick H. Murray, the founder of the First Baptist Church in Charleston, and Sally Murray. Nancy gathered an education from the Western College for Women in Ohio before her marriage in 1892. According to the U.S. Marriage Index, Nancy Murray married Frank Nixon Mann on September 21, 1892 at the age of 24. They had two adopted children - Nancy and Ellsworth.
The couple resided in West Virginia for the entirety of their marriage, in both Alderson and Huntington. Frank attended Hampton Sydney College in Virginia and later was a business owner of two separate lumber yards. His first business, rooted in Alderson, burned down, causing the couple to move to Huntington. Mann began a new business by the name of Huntington Sash Door & Trim Company.
Nancy Mann was a well-regarded civic leader for various organizations, many for women's rights. Her activities for suffrage and women's betterment include her role as civic chairman of the Women's Club of Huntington and founder and president of the Huntington Young Women's Christian Association. She was also involved with the Huntington Equal Suffrage Association, Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association. Nancy Mann was the president of the Huntington Equal Suffrage Association and spoke at many events for this organization. She is mentioned to have given a speech that was later called a "suffrage plea forcibly made by Mrs. Mann." In her "forcible plea" she says: "The big men of our country in every walk of life have . . . given deep thought and intelligent study to the essentials of a great democracy . . . believe that our ideal form of government will never be attained until everyone has been given a voice and representation in governmental affairs." Mrs. Mann also served as the second vice president of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, elected in 1917. Notably, Mrs. Mann also served as a travelling speaker for the WVESA promoting a women's suffrage referendum to the far corners of West Virginia. The West Virginia suffrage referendum failed miserably by a 3-to-1 margin. The group began focusing their attention instead on educating members on the history of women's suffrage movements and later the amendment. In 1920, as the state legislature considered ratification of the 19th Amendment, Mrs. Mann joined those lobbying for its passage, which occurred in March 1920.
Nancy Mann's civic engagement does not end there, she was also very politically active. She was a strong proponent of prohibition, serving as the only woman to speak at the Anti Saloon League's Southern convention in 1931. In the presidential election of 1924, a candidate named John W. Davis held the dark horse Democratic nomination for president. He is described in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle as the "Ideal Candidate" and "Very Dry" in an article about the support given to him by West Virginia women. Nancy Mann was known as the head of this cluster of Democratic women who supported Davis and received the most votes for delegate-at-large than any other person in the state. Davis lost to Calvin Coolidge in the election and the group of Davis supporters disbanded.
When the election of 1928 rolled around, Nancy Mann changed her political affiliation from Democrat to Republican in support of Herbert Hoover. Mrs. Mann travelled the country talking to various groups, specifically women's groups, persuading them to side with Hoover in the upcoming election. Her dedication to Hoover during his election and presidency earned her an appointment from President Hoover. She was appointed to the Board of Advisors for the Federal Institution for Women in Alderson, West Virginia. Only 8 years after women gained their right to vote, Nancy Mann was receiving political appointments.
Nancy Mann remained a Christian throughout her life and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Huntington and was an active teacher in the church. After her husband's death she worked as a hostess at the Student Union on the Marshall University campus and she served on the board of governors for Greenbrier College for Women. She died on August 27, 1961 at the age of 93 in a Huntington hospital leaving the bulk of her estate to her daughter, Mrs. Nancy Johnson, and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Mary Shep Mann.
1920 U.S. Census, Huntington Ward 3, Cabell, West Virginia, p. 6A, Enumeration district 25. Digital Images. Ancestry.com.
"100 West Virginia Women Push Boom for John W. Davis." Brooklyn Daily Eagle (NY), June 23, 1924, 2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/928125/the-brooklyn-daily-eagle/.
Callahan, James Morton. History of West Virginia, Old and New, Vol 3. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1923.
"Fifth District Club Women in Convention." Bluefield Telegraph (WV), May 30, 1915, 8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/794104/mrs-frank-n-mann-society-and-womens.
"Mrs. Frank N. Mann Spoke at St. Petersburg," Lebanon Daily News (PA), March 1, 1931, 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/794086/mrs-frank-n-mann-spoke-at-st/
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]
"Mrs. Nancy M. Mann Dies, Huntington YWCA Founder." Herald Dispatch (Huntington, WV), August 28, 1961, 1.
Nancy Murray Mann papers, 1914-1985. Marshall University Special Collections. Marshall University https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1263&context=sc_finding_aids.
Nannie[sic] Murray, West Virginia, U.S., Marriages Index, 1785-1971. Digital File. Ancestry.com.
"Suffrage Plea Forcibly Made by Mrs. Mann." Huntington Advertiser (WV), June 3, 1916. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffragemannspeech1916.html.
"We will Not Cease to Ask for the Ballot." Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote, West Virginia Archives & History, 2019. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage5.html
Will, Nancy Mann, Cabell County, West Virginia, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1724-1985. Vol. 34-35, 1960-1961. Digital Image. Ancestry.com