Margaret Haley

November 15, 1861-January 5, 1939

Margaret Haley (standing on right) in Suffrage Parade, ca. 1911.

Margaret Angela Haley spent her childhood on farms and in small towns in Illinois. She started teaching in a one room school house at the age of 16 in Morris, Illinois. She took classes at Illinois Normal University (now Illinois State University) in Bloomington and also at Cook County Normal School (now Chicago State University) in Chicago. In 1882 she began teaching in Cook County. In 1884 she began teaching at Hendricks School in the Stockyards District. The area was incorporated into the city limits in 1889, making Haley a Chicago public school teacher.

Haley left teaching in 1901 to become a paid business representative and vice-president of the Chicago Teachers Federation (CTF). Under her leadership, CTF worked hard to arouse people to the unfairness of taxation without representation. She worked for CTF until her death in 1939. She strived to improve the economic well-being of Chicago’s public school teachers. In 1902, CTF affiliated with the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Haley believed that women needed the right to vote because teachers could not teach their students how to exercise their democratic rights unless they themselves had the right to vote. Her work played a significant role in the successful passage of the legislation in Illinois in 1913 giving women the right to vote. She was present with Grace Wilbur Trout and Elizabeth K. Booth when Governor Dunne signed the 1913 suffrage bill. A Chicago Daily News editorial called “the embodiment of alert, informed and fearless citizenship in action.”

By Elizabeth Kinney, League of Women Voters of Evanston, originally published in Celebrating 100 Years of Illinois Women Voting: 2013 anniversary booklet.