Ida A. Husted Harper was a prominent woman in the American suffrage movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born Ida A. Husted, she lived the early part of her life in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she married Thomas Harper, a lawyer, in 1871. Her husband was a politician as well as an attorney and was an associate of Eugene V. Debs, the American labor movement leader. With this background and connections in Terre Haute, she wrote for local newspapers.
For twelve years, Harper wrote a column for the Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail. Her ideas in “A Woman’s Column” had a mixed reception. For the following nine years, from 1884 to 1893, she wrote a column for women for the Fireman’s Magazine, a union publication known later as the Locomotive Fireman’s Magazine.
Harper’s first experiences in politics occurred in 1887 when she helped organize an Indiana State women’s suffrage society, concentrating on voting rights for women. With her writing skills, she became the secretary of the organization. She was divorced from Harper in 1890 and continued to work in newspapers. She attended Stanford University briefly, from 1893 to 1895, before devoting herself to the suffrage movement beginning in 1896.
After her experience as head of press relations for the campaign by the National American Woman Suffrage Association for a suffrage amendment in California, Harper’s work came to the attention of national leaders of the movement. As a result of her close working relationship with women’s rights crusader Susan B. Anthony, Anthony asked Harper to become her official biographer. In...
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