The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
Vice Chair, National Press Committee, NAWSA; Director, Cuyahoga County Woman Suffrage Association (aka. Cuyahoga County Woman Suffrage Party); Chair, OWSA Literature Committee; Chair, Organizational Committee, OWSA; personal assistant, Carrie Chapman Catt; lobbyist
Elizabeth J. Hauser was born on March 16, 1873 as the seventh of nine children to German immigrant parents, David and Mary Bixler Hauser, in the small town of Girard, Ohio. Living in Ohio for the rest of her life, she only left briefly to participate in the suffrage campaign in New York in 1909. Hauser received a high school education and started her journalism career by working at a local newspaper, the Girard Grit, for three years. She never married nor had children.
In 1889, at the age of sixteen, Hauser attended her first local suffrage meeting and joined Ohio’s campaign. During the 1890s, she affiliated with the local, state, and national suffrage organizations, the Cuyahoga County Woman Suffrage Association (CCWSA), the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association (OWSA) and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Starting in 1903, the NAWSA headquarters moved to nearby Warren, Ohio, also the home of the OWSA headquarters, which brought Hauser extensive connections with these organizations.
In 1899, Harriet Taylor Upton, the acting OWSA president, asked Elizabeth Hauser to become assistant treasurer of NAWSA. In 1895, Hauser moved into the position of press secretary for both OWSA and NAWSA. When NAWSA moved its headquarters to New York City in 1909, she moved to New York and transitioned to vice chairman of the National Press Committee at the new location.
In late 1910, she left her position at the NAWSA headquarters in New York as Vice-Chair of the Press Committee, and Upton chose Hauser to lead Cleveland’s campaign. In 1910, Hauser briefly served as NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt’s personal assistant, and from 1910 to 1911, worked as secretary and editor for Cleveland’s mayor, Tom Johnson. OWSA appointed her as the chairman of state organizational work from 1910-1920.
In 1910, Hauser led Cleveland women to form the first suffrage party, the Ohio Woman Suffrage Party. This party worked with OWSA as they tried to mobilize the 1911-1912 Ohio referendum campaign, pressuring both the Republican and Democratic parties to introduce a suffrage amendment in the 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention.
Through suffragists’ efforts, the Convention voted to set a special election in September 1912 for Amendment 23: Ohio women’s right to vote in presidential elections. Hauser registered as a lobbyist with the Ohio Secretary of State and lobbied in the state capital of Columbus for eight weeks to push for the amendment. Despite hard campaigning, the influence of liquor interests and an overall lack of education, organization, and scope of public appeal in the campaign lost the Amendment 23 vote. Two years later, the 1914 referendum was similarly defeated.
These defeats did not stop Hauser or the Ohio suffrage movement. From 1914-1916, she continued to strengthen state organization efforts as the OWSA Literature Committee Chairman, reaching out to local suffrage groups, lobbying directly in Columbus, and going on statewide tours. While Ohio suffragists changed their strategy from seeking an amendment to pursuing “municipal rule” through local legislation, Harriet Upton chose Hauser to be the Organization Committee chairman for the Cleveland campaign for statewide voting in 1917. This committee worked to get signatures from all women and influence congressional lobbying. This effort emphasized the importance of congressional district work and an overall change in traditional tactics.
The Reynolds-Fouts Presidential Suffrage Bill, although unsuccessful, was followed by the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving Ohio women the right to vote. Suffrage organizations like NAWSA, OWSA and the CCWSA moved their memberships to the newly formed League of Women Voters (LWV). Hauser co-founded the Cleveland chapter of the League and became the fourth vice president of the LWV at its first national convention in 1921. Hauser and others in the League pushed for world disarmament in the wake of World War I. She became chairman of the Committee on the Reduction of Armament by International Agreement and continued her career as a journalist for this cause, writing editorials for the League publication Women’s Journal until 1929.
Hauser continued writing privately until 1940 while still living in Girard. At age 85, Elizabeth J. Hauser died on November 11, 1958, and is buried at the Girard Liberty Union Cemetery in Girard, Ohio.
A brief historical context of Elizabeth J Hauser’s life is available in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History at http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=HE1. The newspaper articles “To Talk Women’s Rights,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 30, 1899 and “Miss Susan B Anthony Present,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 8,1897, outline Hauser’s contribution as NAWSA’s treasurer and close assistant to Upton, marking her as a valuable asset in the movement. Florence Allen and Mary Welles provide details into Hauser’s work as Upton’s secretary and thus her movement between campaign positions in The Ohio Woman Suffrage Movement: ‘A certain unalienable right’: What Ohio women did to secure it, (np, Committee for the Preservation of Ohio Women Suffrage Records, 1949). Eileen Regina Rausch discusses the exact movement of Hauser from Ohio to New York and then returning to Ohio and provides an overview of her activism over these years in. “Let Ohio Women Vote”: The Years to Victory 1900-1920,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1984). In “A Kick is Sometimes a Boost: The 1914 Woman Suffrage Campaign in Franklin County,” Jessica Rae Pliley gives the historical background of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association in which Hauser worked closely with its leadership in 1915 onward. (Master’s Thesis, Ohio State University, 2006). Virginia Abbott Clark, The History of Woman Suffrage and the League of Women Voters in Cuyahoga County, 1911-1945 (Cleveland?, 1949), shows Hauser’s positions in Cuyahoga County and her work in the League of Women Voters after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The 1940 U.S. Federal Census can be found on www.ancestry.com and shows where Hauser lived, her marital status, what career she had, and her age at the time.
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