Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Minnie Stanley, 1865-1943

By Joshanne Chiang, student, University of California, San Diego


Minnie Irene Johnston was born on October 1, 1865, in Ontario, Canada. She had three siblings: Flora J. Cochran, Mrs. Alfred Hurlburt, and William Johnston. She married Nathan Myer Stanley in approximately 1888, and they immigrated to Dayton, Ohio in approximately 1890. They had two children, George F. and Myer H. Stanley. While Mrs. Stanley was a housewife, Mr. Stanley worked in the optical business, founding both Stanley Manufacturing Co. and Univis Lens Co.

Minnie Stanley began working for the welfare of working girls at Dayton's Young Women's Christian Association. Although initially reluctant, she was convinced by a Cincinnati suffragist to begin working towards women's suffrage. Her husband also supported women's suffrage. Mrs. N. M. Stanley became the vice president of the Montgomery County Suffrage Association, with Mrs. O. F. Davisson as the president. Stanley was appointed as Ohio's state delegate to the 1917 national suffrage convention in Washington, D.C. Stanley was so instrumental in the struggle for suffrage that she was referred to as "the real moving spirit in the suffrage cause."

After the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Minnie Stanley began working to engage and educate women voters. She served as the first president of the League of Women Voters of Dayton and Montgomery County from 1920 to 1932. She led the creation of classes for women to learn how to vote and about the issues and candidates they were voting on. In her capacity as an officer, Stanley attended the 3rd Annual National Convention of the National League of Women Voters and the Pan-American Conference of Women in 1922 at the invitation of President Harding. Stanley spoke at a convention of the Ohio League of Women Voters in 1931, and was elected as president. Stanley served in this role from 1932 to 1936, and was later made an honorary member of the League's board.

In addition to her work for women's suffrage and for women voters, Minnie Stanley was actively involved in many other causes. She spent the summer of 1916 in Canada, where she worked for the Canadian Red Cross. Stanley also devoted much of her time to Dayton's Red Cross. She organized Dayton's first Red Cross Tag Day, which raised $5,000 for the organization in a single day. During World War I, Stanley became the chairman of the women's division of Liberty Loan campaigns in Ohio. Stanley had joined the Christ Church upon moving to Dayton and was involved there as well. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stanley had an interest in music, hosting musical entertainment in their home as early as 1900. Additionally, the Stanleys were some of the first members of the Dayton Philharmonic Association. Mrs. Stanley served as the organization's president for a year beginning in 1936 and continued as their honorary president. She also became the financial chairman of the Dayton Women's Civic Group.

In 1940, Stanley suffered a hip injury that confined her to her home and limited her active involvement in organizations. Minnie Stanley passed away in Dayton, Ohio, on October 7, 1943, at the age of 78. She was survived by her two sons, six grandchildren, and three siblings.


Bambakidis, Ellie. Woman's Suffrage Association and League of Women Voters. Dayton, Ohio: Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1998.

"Cincinnatian Speaker at Convention of League of Women Voters in Dayton- Gem City Resident New President of Organization." Cincinnati Enquirer, 22 October 1931, p. 4.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve. "Chapter XIX: Music and Musicians in Dayton." In Dayton, Ohio- An Intimate History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1932.

"Engagements of Prominent Young People Announced- Delightful Musical and Literary Evening By Mr. and Mrs. N. M. Stanley- Personal Mention." Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 April 1900, p. 29.

"Funeral For N. M. Stanley To Be Friday." Dayton Daily News, 18 March 1942.

Hauser, Mollie, and Sherri Goudy. Empowered Women: History of Dayton Women and the Dayton Woman's Club and the Dayton. Edited by Brian Reid. Graphic Design by Kathleen Russell. Children's Historical Publishing, 2019.

Hundley, Wendy. "Memories of Suffrage Movement Have Familiar Ring." Dayton Daily News, 17 June 1991, p. 19.

"Minnie Irene Johnston Stanley." Find a Grave, n.d.

Mrs. Minnie Stanley Portrait. ca. 1895. Ohio History Connection.

"Mrs. N. M. Stanley Appointed State Delegate to National Suffrage Convention." Dayton Daily News, 19 November 1917, p. 12.

"Mrs. Stanley, 78, Civic Leader Here, Dies At Residence." The Dayton Herald, 7 October 1943, p. 1, 9.

"Representative Citizens Endorse Woman's Suffrage." Dayton Daily News, 3 August 1912, p. 14.

Schweickart, Michelle. "The Battle for Suffrage in Ohio." The Woman's Suffrage Movement: Dayton, Ohio (1890-1920), 31 August 2015.

U.S. Federal Census, Dayton Ward 2, Montgomery, Ohio, 1900-1940, household of Nathan M. Stanley. Accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.

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