“We have done all of this year after year, month after month, day in and day out with no thought of self or fame, or recompense.”
Ethel Hurd, “A Brief History of the Minneapolis Political Equality Club,” 1921
Ethel Hurd’s dedication to votes for women spanned decades. She “campaigned for suffrage in the days of Susan B. Anthony,” according to her obituary. And she alone among Minnesota’s early suffragists lived to see the 19th Amendment passed.
Hurd was the first female graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She moved to Minnesota where, after her husband’s death, she enrolled in medical school at the University of Minnesota. She was one of the school’s first female graduates when she received her MD in 1897.
Ethel Hurd fought for public health reform as well as woman suffrage. She practiced with her daughter, Dr. Annah Hurd. They saw votes for women as key to advancing social reforms, and often held suffrage meetings at their Minneapolis office.
Hurd’s record shows how women worked across multiple organizations to achieve woman suffrage. She was editor of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association’s newsletter for ten years, and served on the MWSA’s board. She was a founder of the Scandinavian Woman Suffrage Association and the Workers’ Equal Suffrage Club. Her greatest involvement was with the Political Equality Club of Minneapolis. One of this group’s many accomplishments was to nominate and support female candidates for school and library boards.
Political Equality Club leaders, about 1915. MNHS collections. Wearing a dark dress, Edith Hurd is in the center of the back row in this photo. Nanny Jaeger and Clara Ueland are in the front row, second and third from left.
Program, March 27, 1914. MNHS collections. Suffrage clubs staged plays and pageants to draw interest in their views. Women played all the roles in this 1914 mock senate debate. Edith Hurd played a senator from Hennepin County.
Minneapolis Political Equality Club ribbon, about 1920. MNHS collections. Grace Polk, a realtor who lived in Brainerd, MN, donated this ribbon to MNHS. Twin Cities-based clubs sought members across the state.
Minneapolis Political Equality Club banner, after 1897. MNHS collections. Minnesota’s longest-lived suffrage organization, the Political Equality Club was founded as the Woman’s Suffrage Club of Minneapolis in 1868.
Report on suffrage work, Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, 1898. MNHS collections. Dr. Hurd was the recording secretary for the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association. For her, public health and politics went hand in hand.
University of Minnesota commencement program, June 3, 1897. Courtesy University of Minnesota Archives. There were three women, including Ethel Hurd, among the 11 graduates of the University of Minnesota’s homeopathic medicine program in 1897.
University of Minnesota Catalogue, 1896-97. Courtesy University of Minnesota Archives. Ethel Hurd’s daughter Annah was also a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. The two practiced together in Minneapolis.
- Bloomberg, Kristin Mapel and Erin Parrish. "'She Will Marvel That It Should Have Been Possible': The Political Equality Club of Minneapolis." Minnesota History 60, no. 3 (Fall 2006)
- Egge, Sara. “Woman Suffrage and Ethnicity in Rural Minnesota: Local Agitation in Pipestone and Lyon Counties.” Minnesota History 67, no. 3 (Fall 2020): 116-26.
- Johnson, Frederick L. “Julia B. Nelson: ‘The Rock on Which the Effort for Woman Suffrage Has Been Founded in This State.’” Minnesota History 67, no. 3 (Fall 2020): 104-15.
- Loetscher, Elizabeth. "Scandinavian Woman Suffrage Association." MNopedia, October 1, 2018.
- Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association records, 1894–1923. MNHS manuscripts collection.
- Political Equality Club of Minneapolis records, 1883–1921. MNHS manuscripts collection.