Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Adelia D. Wade, 1851-1924

By Sara Schliep, Archivist and Cataloger, Folger Shakespeare Library

Adelia D. Jenkins was born in Turner, Maine on May 8, 1851, to William S. and Deborah H. Jenkins. Her great-grandfathers fought in the American Revolution and later moved to Maine. According to the 1898 History of the Women's Club Movement in America, she grew up "in an atmosphere charged with the enthusiasm and moral purposes brought to life by the Civil War, and laughingly [told] of the sorrow she felt because she was a little girl, and could not 'go to the war!'" as four of her uncles did. By 1870, the Jenkins family was living in Auburn, Maine where Adelia, then 19, worked in a shoe shop.

On September 1, 1879, she married Charles Bird Wade, a tinsmith, of Easton, Massachusetts where the marriage took place. In 1880, they moved to the Pacific northwest and settled in Pendleton, Oregon, where they raised two sons. Charles Wade became a cashier at the First National Bank of Pendleton and invested heavily in Baker mines. In January 1904 Charles's mining investments failed, forcing him to resign from his position at the bank and for the Wades to turn over their property to satisfy his creditors. Prior to this bankruptcy, the Wades were associated with both the material and intellectual advances of Pendleton.

Adelia Wade was an active member of the Oregon Branch of the Women's Auxiliary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Oregon where she served as Vice President (1899) and President (1900, 1901) for the Church of the Redeemer in Pendleton and the Managing Officer (1899) for Athena Mission. She was also a life member of the Oregon Historical Society (founded in 1898) according to the Proceedings of the Oregon Historical Society published in 1900. Helen Winslow, a Massachusetts journalist and editor, recognized Wade as "one of the most prominent club women in her State" and that she had "done much for the spread of the movement there" in an article in the Delineator. Wade remained connected to club work in the East through visits during her married years and applied that knowledge to her club work in Oregon.

Wade founded the Thursday Afternoon Club of Pendleton as a literary study group, and in 1894 it became the first Oregon women's club to join the General Federation of Women's Clubs (itself founded in 1890). Thereafter, Pendleton became the headquarters for Oregon's women's clubs, with the Thursday Afternoon Club being known as the "mother club" despite there being larger clubs in other cities, like Portland. When Wade's club joined the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), she was unanimously chosen as Oregon's first State Chairman of Correspondence. In this role she was tasked with informing herself about all women's clubs across the state, to promote the GFWC to these organizations, and to assist in forming new clubs. In 1897, Wade reported knowledge of only 15 women's clubs in Oregon but commented that "there are doubtless many more clubs in the state" recognizing that the "area is great and the information comes slowly." She also advocated for a state federation, arguing that "women's clubs, wherever they exist, are helpful in furthering the best interests of society." In November 1899, the Thursday Afternoon Club was one of 13 women's clubs that met to form the Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs (OFWC), which held its first convention in Pendleton in 1900 where Wade was elected President. Wade would continue to serve as President through 1903 after which she was succeeded by Sarah Evans, a prominent suffragist and clubwoman based in Portland. In the first years of the OFWC, Wade and Evans worked closely on public library and child labor legislation, both of which passed and improved conditions for Oregon residents. By the 1904 statewide meeting of the OFWC, 36 member clubs were affiliated with the Federation. By 1910 that number had increased to 51.

The 1902 Illustrated History of Umatilla . . . [and] Morrow County notes that Wade filled her role as President of the OFWC "with rare ability and tact." The authors go on to explain the connection between women's club work and the suffrage movement as follows:

The immense development in recent years of clubs among the women of the state of Oregon and the United States is not a mere fad but is rather an outgrowth of a restless impatience of the women of America against the prevailing discrimination against them in public affairs . . . The struggle for woman suffrage has thus far been unsuccessful and it may be another generation before the effort made by these brave spirits achieves a victory; in the meantime the women have set themselves to work, through the organization of clubs and the confederation of those organizations to train themselves for the privilege of suffrage and make themselves fit for a participation in public affairs.

A published statement by Wade follows where she argues that Pendleton "women are no less active, earnest and aspiring concerning the social, intellectual and ethical life of the city." Her statement championed the growth of women's clubs and their organization at the state and federal level, explaining that the "great club movement does not stand for a social scramble, nor a selfish gratification of ambition. It builds on the principle of common sense reform, broad democracy and human sympathy . . . More and more the clubs are ceasing to work for one sex, or one class of people, but are endeavoring to arouse in each community an abiding interest not alone in its culture, but in its humanity."

Wade's 1902 report to the GFWC on behalf of the OFWC records the addition of committees on civics and Oregon history recognizing that "Oregon history will be a most appropriate study for our clubs, and a large amount of civic work could well be undertaken and finished before we shall be ready to greet our many visitors, and welcome them to our grand state." This statement references the plans already underway for a Lewis and Clark Exposition to coincide with their expedition's centennial. In November 1902, Wade wrote a letter expressing the willingness of clubwomen to participate in the planning of the 1905 expo and urging the all-male Lewis and Clark Corporation to make use of the existing network of women's clubs. Wade expressed continued frustration in an April 7, 1903 letter to the chairman of the fair corporation's Committee on Women and Women's Work, noting that the corporation's call for organizing new "Lewis and Clark Clubs" across the state would be "like dividing the forces of the women" already active in club work, whose offers of assistance continued to go unheeded. When their call came, the OFWC (represented by Wade as President) declined citing lack of time to organize a new club. While the Portland Woman's Club and the City Federation encouraged creation of a Board of Women Managers for the exposition (as was common), Wade and the OFWC urged the corporation to enlist an "Advisory Board of ladies . . . to act with the Directors and Commissioners." In the end, the corporation failed to create either such board or to formally integrate women and their accomplishments into the exposition as advertised.

Despite being repeatedly excluded from the exposition planning, the clubwomen of Oregon were not deterred and planned their own events to coincide with the 1905 celebration. The first was the 37th annual National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention held at the First Congregational Church in Portland where many of Oregon's women's clubs gave addresses or greetings. The convention program lists no speaker's name for the OFWC, but it is likely that Wade would have been involved in the convention proceedings as a prominent clubwoman if not also as the designated representative for the OFWC. The second event was the unveiling of a Sacajawea statue on the day following the convention's close, which was part of the exposition's formal program. The OFWC was involved in the fundraising for the statue and the unveiling ceremony featured speeches by notable suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Abigail Scott Duniway who connected Sacajawea to the suffrage movement as a symbol of progress and a civilizing force.

Wade's club work continued after the 1905 exposition. In 1906, she was the Oregon representative on the GFWC's Legislative Committee. Around the same time, the Wades moved to California where Wade appears on the 1906-1907 list of members of the East Whittier Woman's Improvement Club in Los Angeles County. In the 1910 and 1920 Censuses, she is listed as working as a correspondent in the press industry, living first in Los Angeles and then in Burbank.

In her 2008 article "Fair Connections: Women's Separatism and the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905," Deborah M. Olsen argues that the clubwomen involved in these two projects "provided models, methods, and leaders for the successful [suffrage] campaign of 1912" in Oregon. Records of Wade's direct involvement in suffrage work are few, but she is cited in volume 6 of The History of Woman Suffrage as one of two sources of suffrage information for Southern California and her name appears on California voter rolls in the 1920s.

Wade also kept ties with the Oregon clubwomen (serving as the OFWC's honorary president in 1915) and their suffrage fight. In early November 1912 two articles printed with her name appeared in Pendleton's Daily East Oregonian. In the first, from November 4 titled "The Cause of Suffrage," Wade writes that "a vast number are not actively interested in the work . . . and so those who are, must continue to agitate (if not irritate) until the importance of justice to women is realized." After quoting prominent men from Los Angeles about the success of California women's suffrage (achieved the year before), Wade concludes saying "More than 75,000 women in Oregon are looking with hopeful eyes, praying that their work will bring the end this year of their campaigning, but ready to go on if need be." The suffrage bill passed in the Oregon legislature the following day. In the second article, from November 6, Wade wrote to express thanks to the newspaper for "without the support of the press, we could not have won." The article is co-authored by Wade who is cited as a representative of the Woman's Club Cam. Com. (probably an abbreviation for the Portland Woman's Club's Suffrage Campaign Committee, which was founded in 1912 by Oregon physician and suffragist Esther Pohl Lovejoy) and Mrs. C. S. Terpenning who is cited as the President of the Political Equality League.

Wade's life was built upon service to her communities and the advancement of women. The 50th anniversary history of the OFWC noted that "under her administration, the working machine of the federation was set in operation." And her fellow clubwomen recognized her as being "an interested, earnest, and untiring club worker," "an advocate of the higher intellectual development of women, and a lover of the best literature," and "a writer of no mean ability."

Wade died on August 28, 1924 and is buried alongside her husband (d. September 1, 1919) at the Grandview Memorial Park and Crematory in Glendale, California.


Early Life

Maine Birth Records, 1715-1922. Pre 1892 Delayed Returns; Roll Number: 57. Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine. via

Croly, Jennie June Cunningham. The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America. (New York, NY: Henry G. Allen & Co., 1898), pp. 1012-1015.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1870. Microfilm Publication #M593, Record Group 29. via Massachusetts, U.S., Marriage Records, 1840-1915 [database on-line], Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840-1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.

"Lost in Mining Ventures," Daily Capital Journal (Salem, OR), Jan. 7, 1904.

Diocese of Oregon. "Appendix A: Oregon Branch of the Women's Auxiliary." Journal of the Proceedings of the 11th Annual Convention and the Forty-Sixth Annual Report of the Church in the Diocese of Oregon, (Portland, OR: E. F. Palmer, 1899), pp 136-137. See also the proceedings from the 12th and 13th annual conventions, pp. 118 and 138, respectively.

Oregon Historical Society. Proceedings of the Oregon Historical Society, (Salem, OR: Sate Printer W. H. Leeds, 1900), p. 98.

Winslow, Helen M. "Club Women and Club Life, Washington and Oregon," The Delineator vol. 55, no. 1, The Butterick Publishing Co., Jan. 1990, p. 118.

Club Work

Croly, Jennie June Cunningham. The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America. (New York, NY: Henry G. Allen & Co., 1898), pp. 1012-1015.

Wood, Mary I. The History of the General Federation of Women's Clubs for the First Twenty-two Years of its Organization. (Norwood, MA: J. S. Cushing Co. - Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood Press, 1912), pp. 63-64.

Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs. Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs: Fifty Years of Progress. Compiled and edited by Mrs. John B. Twiford, (1950?), p. 14.

Parsons, Colonel William and Shiach, W. S., An Illustrated History of Umatilla County by Colonel William Parsons and of Morrow County by W. S. Shiach with a Brief Outline of the Early History of the State of Oregon, (W. H. Lever, 1902), pp. 189.

General Federation of Women's Clubs. "Oregon," in The Club Woman, vol. 10, no. 2 (October 1902), p. 56.

Olsen, Deborah M. "Fair Connections: Women's Separatism and the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905," Oregon Historical Quarterly vol. 19, no. 2 (2008), pp. 174-203.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. National American Woman Suffrage Association 37th Annual Convention program (1905). Preserved in the Diary of Susan B. Anthony, Susan B. Anthony Papers, Library of Congress, MS #17559.

General Federation of Women's Clubs. List of Officers And Directors, Committees, State Federations, Federation Secretaries and Federated Clubs of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. (Charleston, SC: Presses of Walker, Evans & Cogswell, Co., February 1906), p. 7.

California Federation of Women's Clubs. Club Women of California Official Directory and Register, 1906-1907. (San Francisco, CA: Calkins Publishing House, 1907), p. 107.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1910. Microfilm Publication #T624, Record Group 29. via

Haarsager, Sandra. Organized Womanhood: Cultural Politics in the Pacific Northwest, 1840-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997).

Suffrage sources and final years

National American Woman Suffrage Association. The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, 1900-1920, edited by Ida Husted Harper. (New York: NY: J. J. Little & Ives Company, 1922). [LINK]

"The Cause of Suffrage," The East Oregonian (Pendleton, OR), Nov. 4, 1912.

"Women Give Thanks for Suffrage Aid," The East Oregonian (Pendleton, OR), Nov. 6, 1912.

Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs. Year Book. (Portland, Or.): Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs, 1915/16), p. 5.

Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs. Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs: Fifty Years of Progress. Compiled and edited by Mrs. John B. Twiford, (1950?), p. 14.

Croly, Jennie June Cunningham. The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America. (New York, NY: Henry G. Allen & Co., 1898), pp. 1012-1015. California, U.S., Death Index, 1905-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. (Note that her tombstone--pictured at her birth year as 1853, which varies from the date on the Maine birth records cited above.)

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