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Theodora Winton Youmans was a prominent journalist and suffragist in both Waukesha and the state of Wisconsin. She served as a writer, editor, and publisher for the city's newspaper, "The Waukesha Freeman" for approximately fifty years, using her platform to advocate for women's suffrage and promote active citizenship among the city's women. In 1913, she was elected as president of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association and as a member of the executive board for the Waukesha County Equal Suffrage Association. Part of her legacy lives on today through the Waukesha Area League of Women Voters.

  • An article by Theodora Winton Youmans in the "Waukesha Freeman," August 16, 1888.
  • Theodora Winton Youmans reporting state suffrage statuses in the "Waukesha Freeman," May 15, 1913
  • Theodora Winton Youmans announcing the end of the WWSA in the "Waukesha Freeman," March 4, 1920

Theodora Winton Youmans (1863-1932) was a prominent journalist, suffragist, and community activist in Waukesha and throughout Wisconsin more broadly. She joined the staff of the Waukesha Freeman in 1880 and became associate editor of the paper following her marriage to editor Henry Mott Youmans in 1889. Throughout her career with the paper, she produced regular columns under titles such as “Woman’s World,” “Votes for Women,” and “Good Citizenship for Women.” She served as the paper’s publisher following her husband’s death in 1913 and continued until her own death the next year.  

While Theodora is frequently remembered as the last president of the Wisconsin Women Suffrage Association (WWSA), a post to which she was elected in 1913, she was also active in local Waukesha suffrage efforts. She was elected to the executive board of the Waukesha County Equal Suffrage Association in February 1913. She makes frequent appearances in the association’s meeting minutes between 1913 and 1914, often proposing motions or giving presentations on behalf of the WWSA. After securing state legislators’ votes for the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, Theodora reorganized the WWSA to form to Wisconsin League of Women Voters. In 1920, a group of women from Carroll College likewise formed the Carroll College League of Women Voters to educate women regarding their new right to vote. Approximately ten years later, the group would reorganize as the Waukesha League of Women Voters. Theodora was among the 27 charter members. The Waukesha League of Women Voters, now operating under the name of the Waukesha Area League of Women Voters, remains active in its outreach efforts to promote voter education and participation throughout Waukesha County.

McBride, Genevieve G. "Theodora Winton Youmans." Encyclopedia of Milwaukee.

McBride, Genevieve G. On Wisconsin Women: Working for Their Rights from Settlement to Suffrage. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.

"Proceedings of the Waukesha County Equal Suffrage Association." Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

League of Women Voters Collection, 2019.020. Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum

Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum

Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum