Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Elizabeth Reap Murray, 1869-1950

By Margaret Hanson

Vice President, Oakland Equal Suffrage League; Suffrage Amendment League of Alameda County; Republican State Central Committee; California State War Mother

Mary Elizabeth Reap was born in 1869 in Pennsylvania to Irish parents. She married Michael F Murray in 1890, and they had their first child, Walter, in 1892. The couple settled in Oakland, California the following year. They went on to have three more children, all of whom were born in Oakland: Herbert, born July 10, 1894, Sibyl, born July 4, 1897, and Willard, born June 22, 1912.

Sometime after moving to California, Mary Murray joined the Oakland Equal Suffrage Club. As a club member, Murray helped to organize political luncheons and fundraisers, arranged and attended lectures, and participated in a 1909 lobbying effort in Sacramento. Murray also served as an officer in the Oakland Equal Suffrage Club: she was elected vice president in 1909, and second vice president in 1910. She remained active in the club until 1911, when women were granted the right to vote in California, and it disbanded. Murray was also active in the Suffrage Amendment League of Alameda County. As a member of that organization, she hosted a whist tournament in 1910 and canvassed for the suffrage amendment in 1911. In 1912, Murray registered to vote as a Republican. She was an active in the party, serving on the Republican State Central Committee.

Murray's career as an activist continued after women were granted equal suffrage in California in 1911. Following the first World War, in which her son Herbert served, Murray became very involved in the War Mothers, an organization of mothers of veterans and children who died in the war. She served as California State War Mother in 1921, 1922, and 1925. As the State War Mother, she helped to host the National Convention in 1921 when it was held in Sacramento, delivering welcoming addresses at the opening reception and the formal opening of the convention the following morning, and presenting the memorial tree at the tree-planting ceremony. She also attended the national convention in as a delegate in 1925, when it was held in Philadelphia. As a War Mother, Murray organized events for veterans, raised funds for veterans' hospitals, advocated for veterans' rights, and endorsed political candidates. Murray was also a regular volunteer at the Livermore Veteran's Hospital. According to a report by the Oakland Tribune, she played the role of Mrs. Santa Claus during the hospital's Christmas Day celebrations for ninth consecutive year in 1932.

Mary Murray died in Oakland, California, on October 8, 1950. She was buried alongside her husband, Michael, who died in 1948, in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California.

Sources: 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1900; Census Place: Oakland Ward 1, Alameda, California; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0341; FHL microfilm: 1240082. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch Year: 1920; Census Place: Oakland, Alameda, California; Roll: T625_90; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 108. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2017. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Registration State: California; Registration County: Alameda; Roll: 1531213; Draft Board: 5

"Camp on Trail of Legislators." San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File); Jan 14, 1909; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: San Francisco Chronicle pg. 3.

"Ebell Clubwomen to Close Season." San Francisco Call; May 30, 1910.

"Equal Suffrage Will Be Topic." San Francisco Call; July 18, 1911.

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 31 July 2019), memorial page for Michael F. Murray (1863-1948), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23512596, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Hayward, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by countedx58 (contributor 46619236).

"First Quay Plans To Be Ready Wednesday." San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File); April 9, 1910; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: San Francisco Chronicle pg. 8.

"Help Receive the Letterman Boys At Idora Monday." Oakland Tribune; May 27, 1921 pg. 17.

"Honor Memory of Noted Woman." Oakland Tribune; February 15, 1911 pg. 13.

"Mass Offered for Mrs. Murray." Oakland Tribune; Oct 10, 1950.

Oakland Tribune; June 11, 1922 pg. 51.

Oakland Tribune; Aug 16, 1922 pg. 11.

"Oakland War Mothers to Give Party for Veterans." Oakland Tribune; Aug 26, 1923 pg. 41.

"Plea is Made for Veterans in Hospital." Oakland Tribune; Oct 10, 1932 pg. 10.

"Suffrage League is Preparing Campaign." San Francisco Call; June 19, 1911.

"Suffragists Arrange for Year's Campaign." San Francisco Call; April 9, 1910.

"War of Sexes, Predicts Women: Mrs. Elinor Carlisle of Berkeley Addresses Suffrage Amendment League in Oakland." San Francisco Call; May 15, 1909.

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