Mary Jane Whitely Coggeshall


"Mary Jane Coggeshall's goal of Women's suffrage has been attained, and another one of her hopes realized:... that the next generation of women may find their work made easier because we have trodden the path before them.'”
—Jean Lloyd-Jones, 1990

Mary Jane Whitely Coggeshall, born in 1836, promoted woman suffrage for 41 years. Carrie Chapman Catt called her "The Mother of Woman Suffrage in Iowa" and "my greatest inspiration." In 1870, Coggeshall became a charter member of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association and continued as its president in 1890 and 1891 and again from 1903 to 1905. Coggeshall was the first editor of the Women's Standard, the monthly newspaper of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association, and was a continuing contributor to that publication as well. She served as secretary of the Polk County Woman Suffrage Society during its early years. She often acted as spokeswoman for woman suffrage, addressing the Iowa House and Senate committees and innumerable woman suffrage meetings. Of the early Iowa woman suffrage workers, she was the only one active on the national level. She wrote articles for national newspapers and served on the Board of the National American Woman Suffrage Association beginning in 1885. Her longtime dedication to the woman suffrage cause in Iowa and the nation provided a strong source for continuity and inspiration to other women suffrage workers. She died in 1911. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1990.