Ida Husted Harper


Biography of Ida Husted Harper

Ida Husted Harper (February 18, 1851 – March 14, 1931) was a prominent figure in the United States women's suffrage movement. She was an American author and journalist who wrote primarily to document the movement and show support of its ideals.

Ida was born in Fairfield, Franklin County, Indiana to John Arthur Husted and Cassandra Stoddard. By 1870, she was a school teacher in Peru, Indiana. Later, she became a principal of a high school in Peru, Indiana and on December 28, 1871, she married Thomas Winans Harper of Terre Haute, Indiana, who went on to become a successful attorney and politician and whom she would later divorce.

She began writing woman's columns, first in a Terre Haute newspaper under the pseudonym "John Smith" and later in a union magazine edited by activist Eugene V. Debs of Terre Haute. Through this period, she increasingly became more interested in the campaign for women's suffrage.

In 1887, she helped to organize a woman suffrage society in Indiana, serving as its secretary and in 1896 joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association where she worked as a reporter and, ultimately, an historian of the movement. She brought Susan B. Anthony to Terre Haute for a suffrage convention and became close to her during this period, soon collaborating with her on writing the "History of Woman Suffrage."

She later wrote an authorized and substantial biography of Anthony based on her their relationship and Anthony's own archives. The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony was published in 3 volumes between 1898 and 1908. Seeking to cement her place in history as Anthony's sole biographer, she spent weeks burning priceless letters and historic documents after Harper set her main biographical text in place.

Ida Harper fulfilled a similar role in press relations for the International Council of Women and later headed the Leslie Bureau of Suffrage Education, which strove to improve public understanding of the movement. The bureau produced articles and pamphlets about the campaign and also communicated directly with editors, praising, chastising, or correcting them regarding their editorial perspectives and policies on women.

In 1920, her efforts contributed to the success of the movement as women were guaranteed the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment. In 1922, she updated the History of Woman Suffrage, adding fifth and sixth volumes. She died in Washington, D. C. in 1931.

Her daughter, Winnifred Harper Cooley, became an author and lecturer.

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