Title: Oral History Interview with Adele Clark, February 28, 1964. Interview G-0014-2.
Interviewer: Broadfoot, Winston
Interviewee: Clark, Adele
Abstract: Born and raised in the South, Adele Clark was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia and the League of Women Voters in Virginia. Clark first became involved in the suffrage movement in 1909, when she became the secretary of the Equal Suffrage League following its formation. Because of her position in the organization, Clark went to the National American Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C., in 1910 as an alternate delegate. When one of the official delegates fell ill, she became an active participant in the convention. Clark describes the proceedings, including President Howard Taft's speech to the delegation. Clark explains how the Equal Suffrage League worked to amend the state constitution during the 1910s but then shifted their focus to the state ratification effort after Congress adopted the Nineteenth Amendment. According to Clark, immediate ratification in Virginia failed in part because of lingering bitterness regarding Reconstruction as well as opposition to the more militant factions of the feminist movement. Despite obstacles posed by the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia women were able to establish a League of Women Voters in 1920. Clark describes the subsequent voter registration efforts—including obstacles for African American women—and attempts by the League of Women Voters to become actively involved in state politics by way of the formation of the Children's Code Commission. Throughout the interview, Clark discusses leaders in the suffrage movement, including Carrie Chapman Catt and Lila Mead Valentine, and she offers her thoughts on the support, or lack thereof, of state politicians such as Harry Byrd and George Walter Mapp. She concludes by describing how women in the movement had to contend with slurs against their personal character from their opposition.