Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Laura Baum (Mrs. E.E.) Raudebush, 1865-1940
By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University
Laura Baum was born in Missouri in 1865 to John and Lisette Baum. She was the third of eight children. The 1880 census noted that her father was a lawyer. Laura was still in school in 1880 at fifteen years of age and completed high school. In 1888 Laura married Emmett E. Raudebush and by 1900 the couple had moved to Topeka, Kansas and had a 9-year old daughter and a six-year old son. They added another son in 1903. Multiple advertisements for properties suggest that Emmett was something of a real estate agent or speculator in his own right. By 1920 Emmett was listed in the census as a real estate agent. The couple continued to live in Topeka in 1930 and owned a house valued at $5,000. Emmett now worked as the deputy assessor and Laura was a deputy clerk. The couple remained in Topeka in 1940 where Emmett, now 77, appraised property occasionally and Laura, at 74, was employed in "government work."
Women in Kansas first gained the right to vote in local elections in 1887, but multiple campaigns were needed to achieve full suffrage. The first reference we find for Laura's connection to woman suffrage is a newspaper report of a meeting in September 1905 of the Good Government Club, which Laura attended. The primary speaker at this meeting was Mrs. W.T. Gresham, the president of the Kansas State Equal Suffrage Association, who reported on the recent national convention of the National, American Woman Suffrage Association in Portland, OR. At Gresham's encouragement, the club members present agreed that they would hold their next convention jointly with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, a strong supporter of woman suffrage.
The Kansas state report in the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, noted that in 1909 Laura Raudebush was elected secretary of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association.
The Good Government Club became a strong supporter of woman suffrage and during Kansas's 1912 referendum on woman suffrage, the club organized a special suffrage issue of the Topeka Daily Capital. The club wrote a public letter to the paper's editor on October 28, 1912, thanking him for publishing their special issue. Mrs. Raudebush was among the members of the club's Executive Board who signed that letter to the editor.
There are no further newspaper accounts of Raudebush's suffrage activity in digitized Topeka newspapers and Raudebush appears only once in newspapers after 1920. The Kansas state legislature ratified the 19th Amendment in June 1919, just two weeks after Congress had passed the Amendment. Laura Raudebush passed away in May 1940 in Topeka, where she had lived for more than forty years. Her activity in the Good Government Club intersected with her commitment to Equal Suffrage and no doubt made a significant contribution to the achievement of women's suffrage in Kansas in November 1912.
Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK].
Federal Manuscript Censuses, 1880, Kansas, Baum family; 1900-1930, Kansas, Raudebush family. Accessible online line via Ancestry Library edition.
Find-a-Grave death entry for Laura Phillippina Roudebush, 24 May 1940. Accessible online via Ancestry Library Edition.
"Topeka Clubs and Club Women," Topeka Daily Capital, 24 September 1905, p. 15.
"Suffragists Thank the Daily Capital," Topeka Daily Capital, 28 October 1912, p. 5.
Kansaspedia, "Women's Suffrage," accessed online at https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/women-s-suffrage/14524.
National Park Service, "Kansas and the 19th Amendment," accessed online at https://www.nps.gov/articles/kansas-and-the-19th-amendment.htm.