Highland Park Suffrage History

by Leslie Cole, member League of Women Voters of Highland Park/Highwood

The Ossoli Club of Highland Park started in the rooms of the Highland Park Club House in 1894.  Originally known as “The Monday Club, “the organization settled on the name Ossoli in honor of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, a 19th Century American journalist, women’s rights activist and early proponent of feminism and the education of women. According to the Club Rules, “The object of the Ossoli Club shall be the interchange of thought as a guide to right living.”

At a regular Club meeting in 1899 at the Highland Park Club House, where the Community House now stands on Sheridan Road at Elm Place, the subject of the day was suffrage.  The guests included Mabel (Mrs. Bertram) Sippy, a notable suffragist from Chicago, who spoke about what was to become the Susan B. Anthony (19th) Amendment. 

In addition to its early support of women’s suffrage, the Club established a “bathing club” and “play ground” on Lake Michigan at the foot of Central Avenue in Highland Park in 1909.  The modern beach included slides, teeters, swings, merry-go-rounds, and lockers.  The club’s expenses for the 1915 season came to $1,000, including funds for the “Captain,” who was the beach master.  Mrs. Francis D. Everett reported that families, mothers, high school students, a few fathers, society leaders and French nurses enjoyed the beach, bringing annual attendance to 26,000. 

Other activities, as reported in the Club Yearbook 1912-1913, were Study Classes, such as those held by Mrs. Everett on the subject of “Illinois Laws Concerning Women and Children, including Laws Which are Needed.”

Source: The Ossoli Bathing Beach, by Mrs. Francis D. Everett, corresponding secretary, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1916-1918.  Social Service Review, August, 1916, p. 19.

Source: History of the Ossoli Club of Highland Park, its founders and presidents, 1894-1920.

Source: Sheridan Road News, May 13, 1899.

Source: The Highland Park Club Yearbooks, 1914-1915 and 1916-1917.

Source: Biographical Sketch of Mabel Lamberson Sippy (Mrs. Bertram Sippy) written by Melanie Zagorski. Included in Online Biographical Dictionary of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920. 

Suffrage Automobile Tour took place in July of 1910, organized by Grace Wilbur Trout. It left Chicago and proceeded to Evanston, Highland Park and Lake Forest, among other Illinois cities. Stopping near train stations, the participants held rallies and hosted speeches for women’s voting rights.

Source: Trout, Grace Wilbur. “Side Lights on Illinois Suffrage History.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), Vol. 13, No. 2, 1920, pp. 145 -179. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/40194491.

Adeline Lobdell Atwater, born in 1887 and raised in Chicago, was educated at local seminaries and briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago. Mrs. Atwater, a member of the Highland Park Woman’s Club and president of the Woman’s Auxiliary at Highland Park Hospital, represented Illinois on the National Women’s Party’s National Advisory Council as the vote on the 19th Amendment approached in 1919. The Woman’s Civic Club of Ravinia (renamed the Ravinia Woman’s Club in 1928 and merged with the Highland Park Woman’s Club in 1968) was not idle: “The Woman’s Civic Club of Ravinia, Ill., being in favor of full suffrage for the women of Illinois as speedily as possible, therefore favor the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution to that end, and also endorse a Constitutional Convention for many reasons,” it resolved in 1916. Both the Highland Park and Ravinia Woman’s Clubs affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1900 and 1914, respectively.

Source:  Women’s Suffrage Supporters in Highland Park, Nancy L. Webster, Chicago Tribune, April 1, 2013

Mary Salome Ott Brand, otherwise known as “Grandma Brand,” voted at age 91 on November 7, 1916.  Voting on a limited ballot at Highland Park City Hall, then located on Central Street east of Green Bay Road, the occasion was immortalized in a photograph taken by her son, Orson B. Brand. William and Mary Brand’s House at 175 Belle Avenue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Source: Early Steps Toward Women’s Suffrage, by Nancy   L. Webster, Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2013.

Source: Highland Park Historical Society, Local and National Landmarks.

Elizabeth Hawley Everett, of Highland Park, was an early and active supporter of women’s suffrage in Illinois. Among other contributions, she was Recording Secretary for the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association; Vice President of the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1906-08, and served as that organization’s President, 1908-1910. Mrs. Everett also was Secretary of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Illinois, 1912-1920.  The Everetts lived at 314 Linden Park Place (now 296 Linden Park Place). Mrs. Everett also found time to write a memoir: “The Olden Time: Stories for Betty,”

Source: Woman’s Who’s Who of America: 1914-1915. John William Leonard, Editor-in-Chief, The American Commonwealth Company.

Annie (Mrs. Samuel) Slade was an active member of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association. Elected Recording Secretary of the association in 1918, she was appointed Chairman of the Finance Committee two years later. She helped raise funds to defray the expenses needed for the Closing Convention of the IESA, which was held at the Congress Hotel in Chicago in 1920 to mark the organization’s merger with the Illinois League of Women Voters.  Mrs. Slade presented a discussion at the event entitled “The Significance of Women’s Entry into Politics.”

In 1917, during the First World War, a thrift shop was opened in Highland Park with Mrs. Slade as its first president.  The shop was one of the first in the country organized to raise money for wounded French soldiers through the resale of articles.

Source: Biographical Database of National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, 1890-1920: Biography of Mrs. Samuel Slade.

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