Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Jessie Livingston Parks, 1869-1928
By Kathleen Banks Nutter, Retired Archivist, Smith College Special Collections, Northampton, MA
Jessie Clyde Livingston was born in Tewksbury, Massachusetts on October 24, 1869, the daughter of Albert Livingston, a farmer, and Lucy Heath Livingston. In 1897, she married Gilbert M. Parks, a real estate agent who was twenty-four years her senior. Now known as Jessie Livingston Parks and living in Enid, Oklahoma, she continued working as a public school teacher until the birth of her first child, Gilbert Parks, Jr., in 1903.
Parks became active in the Oklahoma Woman Suffrage Association in 1905, serving as corresponding secretary through 1907. The fight for women's suffrage in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories began shortly after their creation in 1889 but floundered a decade later only to be revived in 1904 by the National American Woman Suffrage Association as the Territories were pushing for statehood. As the History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 6 (1922) noted some years later, "Vigorous protest had been made by women throughout the Territories against the bill for statehood which had been presented to Congress, classifying women in the suffrage section with illiterates, minors, felons, insane and feeble-minded" (534). While Oklahoma did become a state in 1907, not until 1918 did women receive the full right to vote in the state.
Also in 1907, Jessie Livingston Parks gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Jeannette. Just a few months later, Parks' husband died and she soon returned to work, once again as a school teacher. The 1920 census found Jessie and her two children still living in Enid. Jessie was recorded as widowed and no occupation was given. Both children, 16 and 13 at this date, were attending school. Parks died in 1928 and is buried in Enid.
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Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York, NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK]
James, Louise Boyd. "The Woman Suffrage Issue in the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention." Chronicles of Oklahoma Vol. 56, no. 4 (1978): 379-392.
Darcy, R. "Woman Suffrage in Oklahoma." In Oklahoma Women's Almanac edited by Jennifer Ford Paustenbaugh. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Political Science Association, 2005, pp. 3-37.
Kodumthara, Sunu. "'The Right of Suffrage has Been Thrust Upon Me': The Reluctant Suffragists of the American West." The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era Volume 19, no. 4 (August 2020): 607-622.
McCammon, Holly J. and Karen E. Campbell. "The Political Successes of the Women's Suffrage Movements, 1866-1919." Gender and Society Vol. 15, no. 1 (Feb. 2001): 55-82.
Wilson, Linda D. "'An Appeal to Reason': Women's Suffrage in Oklahoma and Indian Territories, 1890-1907." Chronicles of Oklahoma Vol. 98, no. 2 (2020): 132-59.