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Mary Frayser considered life an adventure.

I am glad that I was not born ten years earlier than I was, not because I mind the years, but because I would hate to have missed having an active part in the life of today. In no previous times have such opportunities been open to women.1

Born in 1868, Frayser lived almost 100 years. During this time she saw great gains made by women. More women were seeking and receiving higher education. Women were making inroads in many areas, such as, teaching, medicine, and law. The late 1890s and early 1900s were years of social reform and in 1920, women began voting in national elections. After the Civil War the change in the status of women began to reflect in attitudes toward courtship and marriage. The possibility that a woman could earn her own living began to affect the relationship between men and women. The beginning of the club movement indicated a subtle manifestation in the relaxation of reverential attitudes toward men. One of the effects of urbanization and industrialization in late nineteenth-century America, was a rapid growth in organizations which for many people took the place of the extended family, the church, and the rural village. The move of middle and upper class women into public life through work in clubs gave them new skills

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and confidence. A strong sense of sisterhood grew among these women.2 Early in life Frayser recognized that more change could be accomplished if people worked together. "From girlhood the possibilities of the work of organizations has gripped me."3 Throughout her life Frayser would use organizations and the networks she built through them to accomplish the many changes and reforms she would endeavor to make.

Mary Elizabeth Frayser grew up in a family long active in business, civic, social, and church matters. Her father, Lewis Henry Frayser was a business man, whose interest in government led him to seek and win a seat in Virginia's General Assembly. Her mother, Mary Branch Frayser, was a homemaker, club woman, and church worker. Frayser's mother worked many years for the Richmond Women's Christian Association. In a testimonial letter to the family following her death, the members honored a faithful member of the board and one of the most devoted and influential members of the

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whole association. As chairman of the House Committee of the Girls Home for more than nine years, she never failed to attend all the regular meetings of the board. Even after her health began to fail, Frayser's mother visited the Girls Home each week and sometimes daily. "Recalling her unwearied devotion to her work, pursued often beyond her strength, we are taught a solemn lesson in regard to the sacredness of duty." 4

The social connections which flowed from these activities meant that the attractive family home in Richmond was a gathering place, a social center, and a mecca for youth. Here Frayser and her younger sister, Ellie, entertained and their mother dispensed gracious hospitality.5 These early experiences and the fact that Frayser had to overcome a severe hearing impairment contributed to the values which determined Frayser's course in life. Involved in service to others as Frayser's parents were they became her role models, and inspired her to strive to fulfil her greatest potential.

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Frayser's father died the year she entered high school which hurt the family economically since his estate yielded a limited income. Many young women of Frayser's social class did not seek employment or careers, so the necessity of earning a living was an ordeal for her.6 After graduation from high school, she applied for a teaching position in the Richmond school system. "I wept bitterly when I received my appointment to teach." When Frayser recalled the experience in 1935, she wrote, "Today young women everywhere want work and the weeping is done if they cannot secure it."7

Teaching had not always been a profession considered suitable for women--men conducted the education of the young in the early years of the republic. The years immediately after the American Revolution witnessed a great widening of educational opportunity; an expansion sustained by the belief that the success of the republican experiment demanded a well- educated citizenry. Institutions for boys' education flourished in the early Republic, but there were few for girls. Americans had inherited the image of the learned woman as an unenviable anomaly and kept alive the notion that the

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woman who developed her mind did so at her own risk.8

Between 1790 and 1830, there was some expansion of opportunity for women. Despite continued fear that education would cause them to neglect the duties of their private sphere, the home, facilities for girls' education increased and improved, especially in the North. The reasons for this related both to the political and to the industrial revolution. Believing as they did that republics rested on the virtue of their citizens, Revolutionary leaders trusted that Americans of their own generation displayed that virtue, and that Americans of subsequent generations would continue to display the moral character required by a republic. The role of guarantor of civic virtue, however, could not be assigned to a formal branch of government. Instead, leaders hoped that other agencies-- churches, schools, families--would fulfill that function. Within families the mother's was the crucial role. If the Republic indeed rested on responsible motherhood, prospective mothers needed to be well informed and decently educated. The revolutionary expansion of the economy--commerce and manufacturing--occurring at the same time, reinforced the need for improved education. As the

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post-war world became more print-oriented, and it became harder to function in it as an illiterate, interest in the improvement of girls' schooling burgeoned.9

Early strides in female education came in the beginning of the nineteenth century with the advent of more common schools. In Pillars of the Republic, Carl Kaestle defines common schools as an elementary school intended to serve all the children in an area. "Common school" was not synonymous with "free school." In both the north and south, even after the creation of state common school systems, the schools often required parents to pay part of the cost of their child's instruction.10

The role of the mother as teacher reached its zenith in the notion of Republican motherhood in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Following independence, the nation faced the task not only of creating a government and building a viable economy but also of raising future generations to understand their responsibilities in maintaining a democratic society governed not by a hereditary elite but by the people. Leaders assigned this latter task to women and told them from

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pulpits, newspapers, and popular journals that the success or failure of the American experiment rested on their shoulders.11

Many of the founders of the nation, including Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, saw the problem of education as a political matter and treated it as a phase of public policy. Education in Rush's view was a means of preserving liberty, securing unity, promoting good citizenship, and developing the resources of the land and people. In an essay entitled "Thoughts upon Female Education," Rush thought it relevant for American girls to be educated for the specific functions imposed upon them by American life. Women must help their husbands guard and steward their property and should therefore know bookkeeping. They should be trained in domestic affairs and to that end understand something of chemistry. Finally, since the success of Republican institutions depended on the

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ability of men to fulfil their political obligations, mothers must be able to teach their sons such subjects as English, writing, geography, and history. In 1798, Rush reiterated that if a genuine republic was to prevail then women must be equally admitted to all the programs of education for young men.12

What happened in the years between 1776 and 1840 was not that women moved from the private sphere of the family to the public sphere of commerce. Rather, the private role of women in the family became a public responsibility. No longer were women to be merely competent homemakers; they now needed the kind of knowledge that would enable them to raise their sons for independent thought and participation in republican government. Leaders no longer perceived women as only moral instructors; now they were to be political instructors as well.

This, of course, necessitated a new conception of women's intellectual abilities. As long as men thought

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women's intellect was inferior to their's, it was difficult to argue for their public role as teachers to a nation. There emerged, therefore, a strong argument for women's access to schooling. Reform proposals for the education of girls proliferated, although most did not go so far as to promote the education of girls to the same extent as boys. Educators never perceived the right to go to school as a prelude to higher learning. Instead, what was needed was a stronger, more literate, knowledgeable, and moral mother. This emphasis on an ideal mother became what Barbara Welter has called the "Cult of True Womanhood."13

To maintain law through moral education was part of the republican experiment. Mothers, who were also the teachers of future citizens, not only needed to know geography, history, and law but also needed to be impressed with the moral responsibility of protecting American institutions: the foundation of our political institutions rested upon man's capacity for self government. The chief end of education was to make good citizens--moral education would produce virtuous citizens.14

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The role of the mother as nurturer created a proper background for her children's moral development and education. It was an extension of her activity within the domestic sphere. Yet it was also through this educational aspect of developing future "good citizens" that women began to break out of their "proper sphere." The entering wedge for female teachers, therefore, was the education of young children in common schools. The employment of female teachers for younger children was consistent with notions about domesticity and education.15

Catherine Beecher, one of the early educators, felt that woman's highest calling, that of mother and teacher, needed to be dignified by adequate training. A woman needed not only a well-rounded education, but training as technical as that of a lawyer or a doctor. Catherine Beecher wrote,in 1829, that most of the defects in the present education system were due either directly or indirectly to the fact that the formation of children's minds was by teachers whose work had not been made a profession securing wealth, influence, or honor to those who entered it.16

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Mary Elizabeth Frayser began teaching in the last decade of the nineteenth century at Randolph School in Richmond, where she taught at all elementary grade levels.17 Despite her initial fears and sorrow over having to enter the profession, teaching became an absorbing interest. She was quick to perceive, however, that if women were to continue to make gains, the female teacher needed to make a concerted effort to change the public's perception of her role.

Although teaching was open to women, the majority of them had no training and only the most rudimentary schooling, their prestige was low and they could not command salaries anything like those of men who were often college or university graduates. An innovation of early school reform emphasized the introduction of inexpensive female teachers. School officials preferred having female teachers because they could save money by paying them less. School districts paid even college educated women lower salaries than men. In answer to a survey in the 1890s, an anonymous college trained teacher noted: "The same work exactly, which I am engaged in,

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is done by men in the New York Department at double the pay."18

There was another element which contributed to the need for professionalization. The world was in an accelerated pattern of rapid change that made it difficult for education and educators to keep abreast. It was even more difficult to guide pupils to a desirable adjustment to these changes. In the opinion of historian Robert Wiebe, the occupation in greatest need of professionalization was teaching.19 Teachers as a group needed to learn more modern and innovative ways of teaching young people.

In 1904, cities in the North and West reported putting more progressive measures into operation through teachers' organizations. Richmond had no such group. Frayser, along with two other teachers, decided to form one. As a result of their efforts, the Richmond Teachers' Association came into existence. This was a dynamic new idea for the times. In Richmond, teachers had never before joined together to form an organization in which they could work toward common goals for

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themselves and their students. Even though the women teachers organized themselves, in order to insure their groups credibility, they had to be led by the male principal, J. H. Binford, who became president of the association. According to Frayser, "In those days the feminine half of creation looked to the masculine contingent to fill major offices."20

Frayser realized that teachers' salaries were inequitable and that only through collective bargaining, made possible by the newly formed Teachers' Association, would women be in a better position to negotiate. Quite often male teachers taught the high school grades and the districts paid them higher salaries. The consensus of opinion was that female teachers were unable to teach higher subjects or to control rowdy older male students.21

When W. H. Cook, principal of Randolph School posted the schedule of proposed salary increases in his office, Frayser saw an opportunity to focus on the issue. The schedule, which

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would be presented to the city council by the school board, proposed higher increases for first grade and high school teachers than for teachers of the grades in between. Frayser felt this to be unfair. At recess, she brought the matter to the attention of the Randolph teachers and they agreed with her. She telephoned J. H. Binford, President of the Richmond Teachers' Association and asked him to call a meeting for that afternoon. He arranged the desired meeting. The association selected a committee to appear before the school board to ask that the second through seventh grade teachers receive a larger salary increase than had been offered. The request led to a reconsideration of the salary policy. An active, successful campaign gave partial recognition to training and efficiency, rather than grade level taught, as the basis for teachers' salary increases.22

After addressing the salary inequities, Frayser and the other teachers in the association turned their attention to new issues in the professionalization of their vocation. One of the most important objectives was a strong organization which would be able to negotiate for adequate salaries and for retirement compensation at the end of their years of service. The teachers' next project was planning strategy for the

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procurement of pensions for Virginia's teachers.

Dr. Joseph D. Eggleston, Ph.D., Virginia State Superintendent of Public Instruction, believed that no occupation lost as many people each year and required as many new recruits as teaching. This had several causes: the low salaries, the uncertainty of tenure, and the terrible cloud that enveloped the heart of many teachers who looked ahead to when sickness or old age would necessitate their retirement from the classroom. They knew that with their inadequate salaries, grinding poverty or unpleasant dependence on family would force upon them an unhappy old age. Teachers needed a pension.23 If a female teacher married after a few years of service, people assumed that her husband took care of her future. However, teachers who remained single needed a pension. In all fairness, a pension should have been provided for all retiring teachers, regardless of marital status, because they earned the pension for their years of service.

The financial future of some of the older members of the teaching corps deeply concerned Cornelia S. Taylor, a Richmond teacher. This interest led her to attempt to organize the Richmond teachers into a voluntary pension system. Although

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this effort failed, it did arouse interest, prompting the Richmond Education Association to send Mary Frayser to the State Association meeting in 1904. They charged her with the task of generating support among teachers for a pension.24

Over the next three years, Frayser worked tirelessly for a pension bill. She studied various plans for teachers' pensions and made reports of her findings at annual meetings of the State Association. Frayser's group sent a copy of the retirement bill to every county and city superintendent and to every high school principal in the state, with a letter asking that they lay the matter before their teachers and urge them to express their views. The proposed bill appeared in the Virginia Journal of Education and the teachers mailed the journal to five thousand teachers in the state. A committee of five school teachers working with Frayser received over eight hundred replies. Of those replies, ninety-three percent heartily endorsed the measure.25

In 1908 before the General Assembly met, Mary Frayser and another teacher, Nellie Birdsong, sought Dr. Eggleston's opinion on the passage of the pension bill. He asserted that it had no chance. Frayser and Birdsong asked if they should

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drop the matter, but Eggleston told them to fight just as hard as if they had a chance to succeed. The effort would prepare the ground for the 1910 General Assembly when they would have a better opportunity for success.26

Mary Frayser, Chairman of the legislative committee of the State Teachers' Association, and the rest of the "pension committee" including Nellie Birdsong, Cornelia Taylor, Mary Webb, Cornelia Archer, and Leisa Archer, worked enthusiastically with faith in the justice of their cause and succeeded in putting a law for teacher pensions into the state's statutes.27 After the committee secured pension legislation for the teachers of Virginia in 1908, Frayser stated: "The bill was drafted in the library of my Richmond, Virginia home."28 Virginia was the fourth state to pass such a law. The six women responsible were the first female lobbyists in Virginia to carry a bill to passage. According to Frayser, the committee got a thrill out of the adventure which would last as long as they lived.29

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Although heartily in favor of the principle of pensions for teachers, Eggleston had clearly believed that Frayser and her committee had no chance to push a bill through the legislature. After they succeeded, much to Eggleston's delight, he stated that he had been taught a lesson in "faith and grit."30 In the judgement of Eggleston, the greatest feature of the bill was that the State of Virginia had recognized the justice of a system of pensions for teachers. That in itself was a tremendous milestone in the fight to put teaching upon a professional basis. It was bound to cause more good teachers to stay in the profession.31 Frayser felt the real purpose of the bill was to increase the efficiency of the schools and to elevate the profession of teaching.32 Concerning the work that Frayser did, Eggleston wrote:

At the educational gathering in Roanoke in 1907, the growth of sentiment in favor of a teacher's retirement fund could be plainly discerned. Miss Mary E. Frayser, of Richmond, who was a delegate to that conference, believed that the time had come for renewed activity along this line. Miss Frayser was fully alive to an appreciation of the obstacles in her path, but was willing to undertake the work and through her untiring efforts, an impetus was given

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to the movement, which carried it to a final issue.33

Even as Frayser worked for the professional status of teachers, students remained her major concern. She believed that schools should provide all possible help to meet the demands of a rapidly industrializing nation. This caused Frayser to reassess the role schools played in the pupils' lives.

Before the industrial revolution, workmen served an apprenticeship to learn a skill, but with increasing specialization this system of training declined. Before 1870, educators believed no vocational subjects should be taught in the schools. However, in 1878, Emerson E. White, President of Purdue University, called attention to the growing demand for industrial education and despite criticism, he proposed that elements of vocational knowledge be taught in public schools. Educators introduced manual training into the schools and regarded it as a form of vocational education. This curriculum gave the student an introduction and some understanding of tools and materials but had only a limited application.34

Frayser considered pre-vocational work, in both

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elementary and high school, as a connecting link between the classroom and life outside and this idea was a basic precept of her teaching.35 Because of her philosophy, in 1906 Frayser and three other teachers of Randolph School sought and received permission to try teaching some job-related skills (manual training) in their school's sixth and seventh grades. They hoped this would help to keep pupils, especially the boys, from dropping out of school. If they did drop out, Frayser hoped the courses would help them find work.

At the turn of the twentieth century, almost all rural schools provided curriculum only through the eighth or ninth grade. Except in the larger cities, there was usually only one school which extended to eleven grades. The other inter-city schools ended with the eighth or ninth grade. School administrators were seeking programs for elementary education that would prepare the student and serve the industrial city. They hoped that elementary schools would produce students capable of continuing their education in high school. However, adverse family economic conditions forced some children to seek employment when they finished elementary school. Frayser thought it important that these students receive some preparation toward a job skill. Often this meant

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the introduction of machine work in the sixth or seventh year.36

Pressures outside the schools continued to mount. Educational reform was not keeping pace with the demand for greater skills at all occupational levels, and a variety of interested citizens combined to insist that public education make such training more generally available. The movement for vocational education, especially manual training, gained momentum until in 1917, it received federal assistance in the Smith-Hughes Act.37

By 1908, Frayser's commitment to teaching professionalization became personal. She had always considered continuing education important and to this end she attended summer school at the University of Chicago in 1903 and the University of Virginia in 1904 and 1905.38 Although Frayser had been teaching school for a number of years, and had taken summer courses at two universities, she realized she lacked the formal education necessary to advance in her chosen career. "But then as now, the need of adequate preparation

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for life's work made itself apparent. So in the autumn of 1908, I went to Columbia University as holder of the Macy Scholarship."39 Up to the time she entered Columbia, at age forty, Frayser had never received a college degree. In 1911, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1919 a Master of Arts.

Female collegians came from an expanding middle class. Heads of their families included those in the professions (doctors, lawyers, ministers, professors, and teachers), those in business (manufacturers, proprietors, and tradesmen), and still others in agriculture. What distinguished a large proportion of the fathers was their economic and social mobility; they were achievers in professional and business enterprises. Often brought up in the antebellum tradition of intellectual and social reform, they viewed college education for both sexes as the path to a fuller life intellectually, socially, and economically.40

Frayser, however, was not the typical college student since she was already forty and considered middle aged when

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she entered Columbia. Though many people would consider her life half over, she felt that a great adventure was about to begin. While at Columbia, Frayser recognized that she was part of a larger movement, and, like the settlement workers she associated with she was "progressive with a vengeance". She was energetic, idealistic, and charged with a mission. Unlike some who only played at social reform ideologically, she actually became involved. As a group, settlement workers were optimists who wanted to make a number of changes. Most of them believed in and supported the American system of government, though they were determined to improve it. Like the settlement workers, Frayser was a "practical idealist." For South Carolina, Frayser was a leader in what Arthur Link called the "social justice movement" and a part of Robert Bremner's "factual generation."41 She tried diligently to understand the men, women, and children among whom she worked. Frayser was certainly sympathetic to laborers, less prejudiced against all people of color, and actively worked for the betterment of life for negroes and immigrants. Like other settlement workers, she spent her life working for reform on the local level. This affected the course of study she would

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pursue at Columbia.

Frayser chose a new course of study, domestic arts and science; more commonly known today as home economics. The terms domestic arts and domestic science, as applied to part of female education had been in use since the last decade of the nineteenth century. Domestic Science consisted of physics and chemistry, physiology and hygiene, chemistry of foods and dietetics, cooking and serving meals, bacteriology and biology. Domestic Art courses included art, design, sewing, embroidery, knitting, the study of textiles, economics, and sociology. Professor Anna M. Cooley of Columbia University saw no reason why a woman should not run her household on scientific and artistic principles. She argued that in the business world men were always ready to try new methods of bookkeeping, filing, and cataloguing. They were constantly on the lookout for new scientific developments which would give them an advantage over their competitors.42 Just as a man needs education in his world, a woman who wanted to be trained to run her household scientifically and artistically needed educated teachers to introduce the necessary subjects into the school curriculum.43

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The period 1900-1910 produced the beginnings of professionalization in home economics. In retrospect, it is apparent that this field of study was evolving in response to the social and economic conditions created by the industrial revolution. Following 1910, there was an effort by schools with degree programs in home economics to require their students to take other groups of subjects having more direct relation to the lives of men, women, and children in the home and in the community. These included mathematics, languages, science, economics, sociology, and principles of education.

The people trained in home economics served in both the social and economic development of rural America. Extension workers and utility representatives, who were educated in home economics, helped rural and urban families adopt a more sanitary and modern way of life by introducing indoor plumbing and electricity into their households. Nutritionists and food scientists developed and tested new foods. Home economists served the fields of human development, family relations, family economics, consumer education, household management, textile science, food science and home health care.44

Even though elements of Domestic Science had their

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beginnings in this era, most women's colleges considered it to be an enrichment of the general curriculum rather than preparation for a professional career.45 Frayser, while training to take her place among instructors of Domestic Science, m ade a great impression on the people at Columbia. Helen Kinne, a professor at Columbia, said of Frayser's work:

Miss Frayser is an unusually delightful woman, with marked teaching ability and is proving well fitted for domestic science teaching. Her keen interest and quite remarkable teaching ability would enable her to handle the subject most acceptably. Of all the students who have taught this year, she is most liked by her pupils. Her teaching is active and spirited, her lessons full of thought and she arouses the pupils both to think and to work.46

The very basis and entry path for all Frayser's later work was her professional status as a Home Economist.

Clearly Frayser's ideals, goals, reform instincts, and training led her to support the cause of women's suffrage--a movement in which she became active while in New York. As a southerner she knew "women's suffrage was very unpopular in the South in those days. Ladies just didn't go in for it."47 This did not deter Frayser who made speeches and even marched

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in a New York parade with the suffragettes.48

Whereas the North was the birthplace of the women's suffrage movement and the home of most of its national leaders, and while the West furnished the first crucial victories, the South was distinctive, indeed notorious, in the suffrage movement. It was the region that afforded the movement the greatest resistance and the least success. Southern male hostility to suffrage long prevented it from gaining a foothold in the region and frustrated the effort to become enfranchised through state or federal action.49 Yet men were not alone in opposing suffrage in the South. Substantial numbers of southern women were slow to see any advantage to themselves and afraid to seek something which displeased men.50 Frayser, however, believed that "Equal rights [would] bring equal obligations as well as equal opportunities to women."51

The unyielding opposition of the majority of southerners

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to the women's suffrage movement resulted from several interrelated cultural, economic, and political factors. The movement in the South took place in a period (1890-1920) in which white southerners were passionately devoted to the preservation of a distinct and, they believed, superior "Southern Civilization." A key element of this southern civilization was a dualistic conception of the nature and responsibilities of the sexes that precluded the participation of women in politics. This gender ideology cast "the Southern Lady" in the role of guardian and symbol of southern virtue, charged with transmitting southern culture to future generations.52

Economics provided an additional and potent obstacle to the success of women's suffrage in the South. Representatives of the burgeoning industry in the New South (particularly those in the area of textiles) wished southern women to confine their beneficent influence to the home rather than vote for child labor legislation and other encumbrances to business.53 Years later when Frayser returned to the South, she would constantly confront southern mill owners with the need to make changes in their mill communities to benefit

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women and children. The fact that she succeeded and won the respect of many mill owners was amazing, given the climate of opinion among the industrial leaders of the South at this time.

While the ranks of the southern suffragettes of the 1890s were few and had little chance of success, the reaction to them was relatively mild compared to what was to come later when their numbers grew and the threat of a federal amendment loomed large.54 After 1910, the suffrage movement made some progress in the South with the aid of the progressive movement and national Democratic party leaders. Yet, even as some politicians supported women's suffrage, believing it would increase the base of support for reform, others opposed it for precisely the same reason.55

Much attention has been paid to the role "new women" of the South. Anne Firor Scott, in Making the Invisible Woman Visible, offers an excellent description of the meaning of the term "new woman" for southerners:

Like the lady, the new woman represented only a small minority of all women in the South. Unlike the lady, she did not become the universal ideal. At her best she maintained the graciousness and charm which had been the sound part of the chivalric ideal and without

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losing her femininity, her responsibility for the propagation of the species, became an important force in public, as well as, private life.56

Many would consider Mary Frayser such a woman. She continually worked to effect changes for the betterment of people's lives.

After Frayser left Columbia and moved back South, she continued to work in the suffrage movement. She became a charter member of the Virginia Equal Suffrage League in 1908 and the South Carolina League in 1915. Frayser said, "the movement was anathema to many for whose regard I cared."57 This did not dissuade her from proceeding to secure the help of her many club friends to work for women's right to vote. The new woman and white-gloved ladies acted together, although not always in concert, for the goal of enfranchisement. White-gloved ladies should be understood as a synonym for club women, who represented respectability without controversy. Many club women were content with the status quo and were unwilling to campaign or risk their position as community leaders even after the period when working for suffrage was

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considered safe. In short, suffrage demanded that new women stir the southern conscience. They saw themselves as movers and motivators of others, not as protectors of status, convention, and social order.58

Once women received the right to vote, Frayser regularly took advantage of this hard won privilege. She felt the right to vote should be used to benefit all people. She always said, "I'm concerned with the rights of women, but this is no battle between the sexes. We must work together for the good of all."59 In a letter to her niece, Julia, she wrote, "I enjoyed exercising my voting privilege. By the time Julia, Jr. is ready to vote, I hope that life will be fairer to the feminine half of creation."60 Frayser often commented, "Since women were given the right to vote, I've never missed casting my ballot, even at 90."61

Committed throughout her life to women's rights, she

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believed they had an obligation to use the rights they gained to help their fellow man. The record shows southern suffragettes engaged in diverse reform efforts. In addition to their concern for temperance, child labor, and the working conditions of women, suffrage groups worked for more women's colleges, for laws which would permit women to serve on school boards, and for prenatal clinics.62 Frayser worked and used her influence in many of these areas.

In 1929, after women had received the right to vote, she was influential in having South Carolina pass the first library extension agency bill, which allowed communities to establish libraries, but unfortunately did not appropriate the funds for the libraries. She prevailed upon club women to become interested in influencing legislation in South Carolina. She also held the office of legislative chairman in various clubs and organizations. She participated in getting bills passed, such as the Library Bill, that would benefit many of the underprivileged. Frayser urged the club women to "study the issues before you vote. Study without action is futile, but action without study is fatal."63 Frayser worked throughout her life to get women interested in what they could

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accomplish through the vote. In 1947, her efforts led the national leadership of the League of Women Voters to commission her to begin a campaign that would lead to the eventual establishment of a South Carolina State League.64

Mary Elizabeth Frayser was a feminist in that she supported the rights of women, but she always operated within the system, that is she tailored her persuasive powers so as not to intimidate the people (mostly men) she had to work through. A man observing her methods objectively might have accused her of using feminine wiles, but that was not her intention. She used logical arguments in a charming and delicate way in order to ruffle as few feelings as possible. These methods endeared her to almost all who came into contact with her.

Frayser's compassion led her to spend a lifetime manipulating the privileged to institute the changes necessary to provide a better life for the underprivileged. She sensed that the elite would not opt for change unless they perceived the benefit to themselves as well. Frayser would use these methods in every phase of her social agenda.

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1Eunice F. Stackhouse, Mary E. Frayser, Pioneer Social and Research Worker in the South ("n.p." 1944), 12; Emmie B. Whitney, "Pioneer Woman Social and Research Worker in South a Guest in Maine," Lewiston (Maine) Journal, 5 September 1936, Magazine Section A 3.

2Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 214; Sharon Hartman Strom, "Leadership and Tactics," Journal of American History 62 (September 1975), 300; Marjorie Stratford Mendenhall, "Southern Women of a Lost Generation," South Atlantic Quarterly 33 (October 1934), 350.

3The South Carolina Woman, 2 (January 1936): 4.

4 Mrs. Joseph Bryan, Testimonial of the Richmond Women's Christian Association to Frayser Family, 14 September 1896. Mary E. Frayser Papers, Special Collections, Ida Jane Dacus Library, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina, hereafter cited as Frayser Papers.

5 Stackhouse, Frayser, 12. Frayser also had two younger brothers who died at an early age. They were Lewis Henry Frayser Jr. and Edward Branch Frayser. Frayser Papers.

6Stackhouse, Frayser, 12.

7Mary E. Frayser, Biographical Essay, June 1935. Frayser Papers.

8 Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), 189-91.

9Ibid., 199-200.

10 Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society 1780-1860 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983), xi-xii.

11 For an in-depth study of the early education of women, see Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic; see also Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 101-25; Averil Evans McClelland, The Education of Women in the United States (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992); an in-depth look at the Republican Mother can be found in Kerber, Women of the Republic, 269-88 and Mary Beth Norton, Liberty's Daughters (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1980), 155-299.

12 Harry G. Good, A History of American Education (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1956), 81; Merle Curti, The Social Ideals of American Educators (Patterson, N.J.: Paegant Books, Inc., 1959), 176; James Bowen, A History of Western Education vol.3, The Modern West, Europe and the New World (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), 281; Dagobert D. Runes ed. The Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush (New York: Philosophical Library Inc., 1947), 87-132.

1313McClelland, The Education of Women, 56-7. Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood 1820-1860;" American Quarterly 18 (Summer 1966): 151-74.

14Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 97-8.

15 Ibid., 123.

16Jeanne Boydston, Mary Kelley, and Anne Margolis, The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Women's Sphere (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 42.

17Stackhouse, Frayser, 12.

18Maxine Greene, "The Impact of Irrelevance: Women in the History of Education," in Women and Education: Equity or Equality, ed. Elizabeth Fennema and Jane M. Ayer (Berkeley, California: McCutchan Publishing Corp., 1984), 35.

19Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order 1877-1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), 117.

20Mary E. Frayser Essay, 1. Frayser Papers.

21Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976), 29-31. See also Willystine Goodsell, ed. Pioneers of Women's Education in the United States (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.,Inc., 1931), 145; Jeanne Boydston, Mary Kelley, and Anne Margolis, The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Women's Sphere (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988); Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 123.

22Stackhouse, Frayser, 13-14.

23J. D. Eggleston, " The Virginia Teachers' Pension Fund," The Virginia Journal of Education 1 (April 1908): 3.

24Stackhouse, Frayser, 14-15.

25Eggleston, Virginia Journal of Education, 5.

26Ibid., 1.

27Stackhouse, Frayser, 15.

28Undated outline of jobs by Mary E. Frayser. Frayser Papers.

29Stackhouse, Frayser, 17.

30Eggleston, Virginia Journal of Education, 1.

31Ibid., 2-3.

32Ibid., 6.

33Ibid., 7.

34Good, History of Education, 449-50.

35Stackhouse, Frayser, 14.

36Anna M. Cooley, Domestic Art in Woman's Education (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912), 13, 127.

37Wiebe, Search for Order, 118-19.

38Personal history of Mary E. Frayser. Frayser Papers.

39Mary E. Frayser, Biographical Essay, 1935. Frayser Papers.

40Barbara Miller Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 64-5.

41Allen F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform (New York:Oxford University Press, 1967), xii-xiii.

42Cooley, Domestic Art, 4-6.


44Susan Weis, Ellen A. Carlos, and Judith R. Kreutzer, Foundations of Occupational Home Economics (Washington, D. C.: Home Economics Association, 1980), 1.

45Selma Lippeatt and Helen I. Brown, Focus and Promise of Home Economics: A Family Oriented Perspective (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965), 92-3.

46Stackhouse, Frayser, 17.

47Lewiston (Maine) Journal, 3.

48Eleanor Winn Foxworth, "Mary E. Frayser: She Had a Conviction and Kept On," Columbia (SC) The State, 20 April 1970.

49Marjorie S. Wheeler, New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 4. Aileen S. Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement 1890-1920 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), 163-218.

50Scott, The Southern Lady, 169.

51The South Carolina Woman, 8.

52Wheeler, New Women, 4.


54Ibid., 21.

55Ibid., 36.

56Anne Firor Scott, Making the Invisible Woman Visible (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 220. See also Scott, The Southern Lady. Marjorie S. Wheeler offers a thorough examination of the southern woman suffrage leader in New Woman of the New South.

57The South Carolina Woman, 4.

58Elizabeth H. Turner, "White-Gloved Ladies" and "New Women" in the Texas Woman Suffrage Movement," in Southern Women: Histories and Identities, ed. Virginia Bernhard et al. (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1992), 137-38.

59Columbia (SC) The State, 20 April 1970.

60Mary E. Frayser to Julia Chesterman, 13 November 1940. Frayser Papers.

61Columbia (SC) The State, 20 April 1970.

62Scott, Southern Lady, 178.

63Columbia (SC) The State, 20 April 1970.

64Note card in Mary E. Frayser Papers.