Biographical Sketch of Mary (May) E. Dudley Greeley

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary (May) E. Dudley Greeley, 1859-1916

By Leslie Greaves Radloff, Retired Teacher-librarian; Secretary, Dakota County Historical Society, South St. Paul, Minnesota

Special thanks to Dakota County (MN) Historical Society Director of Research and Research Librarian Rebecca Synder; Sally Anderson, City of Hastings and The LeDuc Historic Estate, Hastings, Minnesota; and Ann Essling, D.A.R., Sibley Historic Site, Mendota, Minnesota.

Mary (May) E. Dudley Greeley (sometimes spelled Greely), born in Milford, Penobscot County, Maine, in May 1859, to Paul Dudley and his second wife, Eliza A. Burr, was the eldest of three daughters. Ellen and Maude were the two younger sisters. Dudley's paternal grandparents were Samuel Dudley (1789-1874) and his wife, Anna Ballard while her great-grandparents were Paul Dudley (1757-1847) a Revolutionary War veteran who fought at the battle of Lexington, and his wife, Martha Foster. The Dudley lineage and that of the Burr family allowed Mary Dudley Greeley to join the Daughters of the American Revolution in both Minnesota when she lived there, and later in New York when she moved back east to New York State.

Paul Dudley moved his family from Maine to Hastings, Dakota County, Minnesota in the late 19th century where he worked as a lumber dealer (1880 census). It was at their home in Hastings that Mary Dudley and Otto E. Greeley (Greely) were married on Christmas Day, 25rd December 1876 by Rev. S. Adams, "Minister of the Gospel". The 1880 census also shows that Mary was back in Hastings living with her family. The Dudley family lived in Hastings about fifteen years before they moved to Minneapolis.

Otto E. Greeley seems to have been a successful salesman, moving from clerk at the Gale Company in Minneapolis to The Phenix (Phoenix) of Brooklyn Fire Insurance Company (now Travelers) and then up through that firm's ranks as agent, then state agent and onto adjuster. By the end of his career he was a well-respected "special agent" and also held executive positions. One Minneapolis business address was listed as 815 Guaranty Building (Metropolitan Building), which at the time was a fairly new 'skyscraper' in Minneapolis's Gateway district. It fell to the wrecking ball along with many other buildings in the area during the 1960s to make way for urban renewal. The Greeleys lived in a succession of rented rooms, apartments and homes on Nicollet Island (Otto) and then an area known as "Southeast," close to the University of Minnesota West Bank Campus and Otto's offices.

Their only child, Harold Dudley Greeley (1882-1964), was born at home while they were living together in Minneapolis, but the Minneapolis City Directories show that by 1884 the Greeleys were living in separate places, though not far from one another in Southeast Minneapolis.

By 1901 Mary was listed as May and identified her occupation as artist. Harold lived with his mother while attending Manning (probably Horace Mann High School) in the Powderhorn Neighborhood not far from where Mary's parents were living. He went on to attend the University of Minnesota, then the University of Maine, and finally went to Harvard Law School. He married Helen K. Hoy (August 29, 1908) and they moved to New York City. Also a CPA, he wrote a textbook for accounting. Harold's wife, Helen Hoy Greeley, was quite well-known for her early suffrage work creating the Rainbow Campaign in 1913 (dropping five different colored flyers from airplanes highlighting why women should vote) and in 1918 working for recognition of nurses who served in World War I.

During the years Mary Dudley Greeley lived in Minneapolis there were numerous women's groups for women to join. Choices abounded along with their purpose; some memberships were free and others with small membership fees; there were organizations for most of the immigrant groups as well as African American women living in the city; professional and working class groups; groups for artists and artisans: and the beginnings of unions for the textile and factory workers. Minneapolis, as with most large cities, had a large population of single men and women in the work force. The importance of the W.C.T. U. and other women's clubs is well-noted and Clara Ueland was quoted saying, "You can't have too many clubs. The more clubs there are the more voters we reach." (Stuhler 1995. p.76). This seems to be where Mary became involved in women's suffrage, and indeed they were good training grounds as Stuhler says. A recap of women's meetings and attendance often appeared in 'society news' or "things of interest to women," and it is there that Mary/ May's name is first seen.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune of January 15, 1899 mentioned the Political Equity Club, a group that would later be looked at as the "organizational mainstay of the suffrage cause in Minnesota (Stuhler 1995) in the fourth ward of Minneapolis with modest annual dues of $1.00. Indeed they were the mainstay as this women's group lobbied lawmakers, distributed materials, signed petitions and organized parades, later helped The Scandinavian Women's Suffrage Association with their work, raised money for a women's building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and sponsored a debate on the topic "Should Men Vote" (Bauer, p. 61). Their January meeting's program, which Mary attended, included a talk: "School Franchise in Minnesota" by S.A. Reed; a review of the suffrage catechism by members (probably the question and answers all were expected to know formulated by Lucy Stone), the bazaar by Mary Dudley Greeley (probably a report about plans for the bazaar) and musical entertainment. Clearly business came first. Greeley's name appears the following month identifying her as chairman of the state bazaar committee and quoted her request that work begin on the table for the December meeting "at once". By the 1899 September meeting of the group Greeley was elected secretary.

Later that year another article in the Star Tribune reported that at the November 8, 1899 meeting of the Woman's Club that group voted to change its name to 'The Business Woman's Club' and also to make changes to the constitution which was 'revised to suit the new spirit of the club." Mrs. May Dudley Greeley, Mrs. Nettie Norton, and Miss Mary S. Wagner were appointed to act as the membership committee at that meeting.

This name change may well have come about because of NAWSA's call to their own group and state auxiliaries to concentrate efforts on changing the U.S. Constitution while also revising how the national organization communicated with members, raised money, and common ways to raise awareness for their cause. To accomplish this, professional organizers were sent out to help throughout the United States, staying as long as needed: Sometimes months but in other cases, years. These changes, quite different from the way things had been done in the past, rankled some of the older suffrage workers, but were quite effective. By using automobiles for tours, motorcades and parades, female pilots for aerial shows, rallies, canvassing and even a barge or steamboat going down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to St. Louis in June 1916 (sponsored by the Mississippi River Valley Women's Association) stopping at ports along the way to meet with women in those cities they got the word out: "Votes for Women." Also very effective was organizing by wards in cities to remove the chance of one ward might be identified as anti-suffrage. These women were savvy and canny. Minnesota was looked to as an example of things done right. It was, after all, progressive from its early statehood when women could control their own money, be guardians of their children if widowed and own property in their own names, and Progressive in the political sense during the late 1800s. That didn't mean it was easier to win the right to vote.

The Political Equality Club of Minneapolis was important to the suffrage workers as a way to literally, get a foot into the door and the women did this as they canvassed neighborhoods and attended meetings of their own group and other clubs. During their September 23, 1899 meeting the group appointed a visiting committee for each of Minneapolis's wards inviting new members to join while distributing a list of suffrage topics and speakers who could be tapped for future meetings. Mrs. Greeley was named to the School Franchise committee and also elected as a delegate to the state suffrage convention being held in October that year in Albert Lea in the southern part of the state near the Iowa border. Minnesota women were very concerned about how they could help their sisters in Iowa later sending money, organizers and speakers to help the Iowa cause. Dr. Ethel E. Hurd was among nine named delegates with three more to be added.

The following year, 1900, on the first Tuesday in February the Business Woman's group met for dinner and afterwards Dr. Bessie Park Haines spoke on the subject of women's suffrage while also presenting a talk "Twenty-five Reasons Why Women Should Vote." Mrs. Greeley took part in the discussion described by one of the Minneapolis papers as "animated." The group decided to send a representative to the Federation of Women's Clubs in St. Paul. The two cities were beginning to forge a working relationship.

Shortly after that meeting Mrs. Greeley took a turn writing about women's suffrage for the Minneapolis Star Tribune when she attended the 32nd Annual Convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association held in Washington, D.C. in early February 1900 as a Minnesota delegate. Her article, "Good To Be There," appeared on Sunday, February 25, 1900 and she wrote enthusiastically about the excitement and joy of attending the Women's Suffrage Convention surrounded by so many like-minded people, both men and women, who were passionate about suffrage. She wrote about the large number of personalities (the well-known leaders) of the organization mentioning them by name. She described the week's busy schedule, and as with any convention, the energy, ideas and stories brought to be shared by and among the delegates. She also noted that $8000 was raised by the Executive committee in an hour (probably not a Bake Sale!) for carrying on the work in the next year, and rather proudly told readers "Next year Minneapolis!" She told of celebrating Susan B., Anthony's birthday and concluded with the mention of a private viewing of art at the Corcoran Collection, a collection that focused on American Art.

After the convention there is lull until December when the St. Paul Star Globe noted that Mrs. Greeley, perhaps visiting family and friends in Maine, was called back to Minneapolis because of the death of her sister, Mrs. Babcock (Maude). Readers also learned she planned to remain a few weeks with her parents at their home in Minneapolis.

At the 1901 Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association held in Minneapolis, it was noted that Mary Dudley Greeley along with D. Cora Smith Eaton and Miss Martha Scott Anderson who formed the Committee of Invitation, had secured the "cooperation of the Board of Trade for Minneapolis, the mayor, and the editors of the leading newspapers' to welcome and publicize the NAWSA during the following year's convention to be held in Minneapolis. The Convention also listened to addresses by Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Howard Shaw, Henry B. Blackwell, Rachel Foster Avery and others of national fame. The following year the Local Council of Women of Minneapolis would be called the strongest of its kind in the country.

1905 found Mrs. May Dudley was once more returning to Minneapolis from Maine but this time for a happier occasion: The celebration of her parents' golden wedding anniversary. Sister Ella (Ellen) traveled with her from Bangor, Maine where their parents had wed and she and her sisters had been born. A charming additional piece of information was the attendance of the couple who attended them at their wedding.

Returning to Bangor, Maine makes sense when readers understand the Dudley family roots. There were, and still are, many Dudley's in the area. There was also an extensive network of women working for suffrage. A school of sorts had been established in Portland, ME where women could take classes on how to conduct suffrage work: Suffrage History and Argument, Organization, Publicity and Press, Money Raising and Parliamentary Law. Those attending may also become familiar with the Suffrage Kampaign Kits, which found their way to Minnesota, and practiced using resistance skills while also honing speaking skills. This school seems similar to the training ground for the Civil Rights/ Freedom Rider workers in that era.

On Saturday April 3, 1909 the New York Tribune reported that May Dudley Greeley had been elected recording secretary of the Equal Suffrage League in that state the day before. This was an office she would also hold in 1910. She was also elected recording secretary of the New York Legislative League whose second term president reminded all members they were expected back on September 1st because, "There is work to be done--important work--and I want every member of this club to do her share." 1910 probably brought news of the 20,000 signatures from Minnesota on the "Monster Petition sent to Washington, D.C. and in 1914 news of the "Great Suffrage Parade in Minneapolis on May 2nd, the fruit of the years Greeley had worked on suffrage there no doubt making her feel proud of work in Minnesota. And she could also be proud of her daughter-in-law's (Helen H. Greeley) work too. But after this there is little mention of Mary Dudley Greeley.

Otto E. Dudley died in Rockford, Illinois in 1916 apparently from a massive stroke while attending a business meeting.

Mary Dudley Greeley, using "May" as her name, was living in New York City when her name was recorded in The Directory of Members of Women's Clubs with her occupation as "Suffrage". But the next year Mary Dudley Greeley was living in Elliotsville Plantation in Maine. There, using May as her first name, she wrote out her last will and testament in longhand, bequeathing all her clothing and jewelry to her sister Ella (Ellen) D. Robinson of Minneapolis, and everything else to her son, Harold, who was also named as executor. She passed away in September 1916.


Email from Ann Essling, DAR Minnesota, 8 January 2019 Belonged to DAR in New York State. In the DAR database. Chapter 1098NY, Nat. No. 29068. Ancestors: Charles Burr and Thomas Dudley

Lineage Book: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, vol. XXX: 29001-30000, 1899. Gertrude B. Darwin, Historian General, Compiled by Sarah Hall Johnston. Washington, D.C., 1899. Mary E. Dudley in the 1860 United States Census. 12/13/2018.

Death record for May Dudley Greeley, Elliottsville, ME, 9 May 1859 in Ancestry Library Edition. and probates from the state of Maine. Mary Dudley Greeley. 12/11/2018.,+New+york&source=bl&ots=pZS5AdDo_j&sig=ACfU3U0sttTB5qWaUBT7OTayrKA_OLiKkg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj9ooHQ2KzgAhUI16wKHSYjDnIQ6AEwB3oECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=mary%20dudley%20greeley%3A%20DAR%2C%20New%20york&f=false Club Women of New York. P. 288. Who's who in New York (city and State), Issue 7edited by John William Leonard, William Frederick Mohr, Herman Warren Knox, Frank R. Holmes, 0infield Scott Downs. Google books p. 441. Harold Dudley Greely. Minneapolis City Directories, Campbell's and Davison; 1875 - 1900. Otto E. and Mary Dudley Greeley; Paul Dudley; Harold Greeley. Otto E. Greeley obituary. Otto E. Greeley death notice.

History of the Harvard Law School and of Early Legal Conditions in America. Charles Warren of the Suffolk Bar. Vol.1. Illustrated. New York: Lewis Publishing Company, 1908. Harold Dudley Greeley. Harold Dudley Greeley's textbook. Daughter-in-law, suffrage and women's rights advocate in her own right. Rainbow Campaign of Helen Hoy Greeley.

Research Collections in Women's Studies General Editor Anne Firor Scott GRASSROOTS WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association Records, 1894-1923 Editorial Adviser Anne Firor Scott Guide compiled by Ariel W. Simmons Cover of booklet Traveling Kampaign Kit "The Spirit of Suffrage". Peterson, Anna. Scandinavian Women's Suffrage Association.

St. Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), Sunday, December 30, 1900, p. 19.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Thursday, Nov. 2, 1899. P. 5.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Sunday, Feb. 11, 1900. Page 15.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Sunday, Feb. 25, 1900. Page 24. March 24, 1882 Tribune Birth announcement of Harold Dudley Greeley 3-23-1882 Note misspelling of last name. Mr. and Mrs. Otto E. Greely are rejoicing over the advent of a son, who arrived to bless their home last evening.

Sauer, Heidi, ed. The Privilege for Which We Struggled: Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Minnesota. St. Paul: Upper Midwest Women's History Center, 1999.

Clark, Clifford E. Jr., ed. Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 1900. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1989. "Keeping at It: Minnesota Women". Marjory Bingham. 433-71.

Harper, Ida Husted. The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI, 1900-1920. National American Woman Suffrage Association. [LINK]

Stuhler, Barbara and Gretchen Kreuter, ed. Women of Minnesota: Selected Essays. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press: 1977. "Brief Biographies". P.342.

Stuhler, Barabara: Gentle Warriors: Clara Ueland and the Minnesota Struggle for Woman Suffrage. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press: 1995. Chapter 6: "The Frustrations of Leadership," 111-28.

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