Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890 - 1920

Biography of Ida Grout Rust (Mrs. James Grant) MacPherson, 1869-1946

By Mitch Fontenot, Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA

Ida Grout Rust was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1869 and lived there and in Duluth for most of her life. In 1891, she married James Grant MacPherson. She had two children, ten grandchildren, and five great grandchildren at the time of her death in Saginaw in 1946. Her entire life was that of extreme privilege and equally extreme contributions to the women's suffrage movement as well as philanthropy on local, national and international levels.

Her contributions to the women's suffrage movement before and after the constitutional amendment at the local, state, national, and even international levels are considerable. She was very active and a long-time officer in varied offices (recording secretary, finance chairman, congressional district chairman) at the state convention of Michigan suffragists and the Michigan Women's Equal Suffrage Association. She represented the Saginaw chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She founded the Saginaw chapter of the League of Woman Voters after the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 and was heavily involved in work with the national organization for twenty years. She also worked to amend child labor laws. She traveled and represented women's organizations as far away as Berlin and Geneva.

Her contributions to philanthropy were equally impressive. She worked heavily with and was the officer of such organizations as the Free Kindergarten Association, Home for the Aged, Saginaw Art and Reading Clubs, Saginaw General Hospital, and the YWCA, just to name a few. After World War I, she worked to build a memorial road in Saginaw for the local soldiers who had died in the war. On national and international levels, she campaigned for the United States to enter into the League of Nations and the World Court of International Relations.

Upon her death, she bequeathed great amounts of money to the aforementioned organizations as well as educational institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, Rollins College, and Scripps College, where many of her papers are kept to this day (Libraries | Ida Rust Macpherson Collection By and About Women ( She is also recognized on the honor roll of the National League of Women Voters and the Saginaw Hall of Fame.


Bessemer Herald, November 28, 1914, p.3.

The Detroit Times, November 6, 1914, p.1.

The History of Woman Suffrage: edited by Ida Husted, National American Women Suffrage Association, volume 5, 1900-1920, pp. 310-312 [LINK].

Lansing State Journal, February 6, 1946, p.5.

The Lowell Ledger, November 12, 1914, pp.1-8.

Michigan Roads and Forests, Michigan State Good Roads Association, February 16, 1922, p.7.

The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan), February 7, 1946, p.18.

Public Libraries of Saginaw -- Obituary Index for Ida Grout MacPherson.

The Saginaw Hall of Fame: Biographical Sketches by Ed Miller and Jean R. Beach, published by The Saginaw Hall of fame, pp. 103-105. Accessible online at

The Saginaw News, article by Lori Robinson, March 9, 2001.

Saline Observer, November 12, 1914, p.2.

Special Thanks

Sally McNally, Local History & Genealogy Librarian, Local History and Genealogy Department at the Public Libraries of Saginaw Hoyt Library

Adam Oster, Community Engagement Librarian, Library of Michigan, Michigan Department of Education

Kris Rzepczynski, Senior Archivist/Head of Reference, Archives of Michigan, Michigan History Center

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