Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Mary E. Ringrose, 1856-1932

By Jazmin Vasquez, University of California, San Diego

Mary Elizabeth Fennessey was born on August 30, 1856 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India. She came to the United States in 1876 and two years later she married Irish-born Rhody Ringrose, and had one son, James Ringrose. In the 1900 census Rhody was listed as a naturalized citizen, working as a mason. By 1910, he was a masonry contractor. In 1910 and 1910, Mary's unmarried younger sister, Catherine Fennessey, lived in her household.

Mrs. Ringrose was a Catholic woman who was an active member in both the Catholic Ladies Aid and The Parents' Rights League of America. She served as vice president of the Cemetery Protective Organization, along with many other important women of the time. Her most prominent contribution in the suffrage movement was her role in spreading the word of women's suffrage in the Catholic community. Through brilliance and hard work, Mrs. Ringrose was able to hand out 50,000 leaflets to people outside of churches in Southern California which spread the word of the women's suffrage movement; however, her work did not end there. She was also responsible for leafleting the churches all around San Francisco (Harper 1922, 46). She also participated in helping with the Washington state suffrage campaign in 1910, calling for action, where there was a three-to-one vote for women's suffrage.

Her success continued with her champion helping hand in the Kansas vote along with her sister Catherine. Spending four weeks supporting the campaign, together they helped rally the Catholic vote which would aid the campaign for women's suffrage in 1912. Ringrose offered her assistance at the polls in Kansas City and was particularly helpful in reaching Polish and other immigrant voters (Caldwell 1943, 312, 314). The campaign ended in success,with a margin of some 16,000 votes out of the 324,000 cast.

The Portland Women's Club Campaign Committee invited her and funded her visit to Portland, where she assisted once again, preparing literature and handing it out at churches and schools. Mrs. Ringrose participated in the California Suffrage Ratification Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association around 1919, helping push towards women's suffrage ratification (The San Francisco Examiner, 1).

Overall, Mrs. Ringrose did incredible work around California and often traveled to other states to spread the word of the suffrage cause. After a long and fruitful life, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Ringrose passed away at the age of 75 on April 30, 1932 in the city of Long Beach, California.


Caldwell, Martha B.,"The Woman Suffrage Campaign of 1912," Kansas Historical Quarterly , XII (November 1943), 300-318.

Harper, Ida H., ed. 1922. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: [LINK].

Harper, Ida H., ed. 1922. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 5: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association. [LINK].

Mead, Rebecca. 2004. How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914. N.p.: New York University Press.

"Neither Head nor Tail to the Campaign": Esther Pohl Lovejoy and the Oregon Woman Suffrage Victory of 1912. 2007. N.p.: Oregon Historical Society.

Oregonian. 1912. "Miss Crosman to Speak." June 19, 1912, 14.

The San Francisco Call, February 16, 1913, 61.

"Women Clinging to Hope for State Action." The San Francisco Examiner, June 10, 1919.

Find-a-Grave, death entry from Mary Elizabeth Fennessey Ringrose, 30 April 1932. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

back to top