Marie Stuart Edwards, a leader in suffrage and other social movements, was born in 1880 in Lafayette. Her youth included many “firsts”. She was the first girl in Lafayette to ride a bike and the first to attend a women’s college. In 1904, she married Richard E. Edwards, the grandson of the original builders of the house. The couple moved into this house in 1914 and Marie Stuart Edwards died there in 1970.
Her first foray into social reform took place in Michigan when she was unable to find safe milk for her son. She organized a platform against infant mortality by abolishing unsanitary dairies and bad milk. The family moved back to Indiana in 1914 and Marie’s activity in the suffrage movement took off. She helped organize the Indiana Women’s Franchise League and served as president of the organization.
1920 was an important year for suffrage and a busy one for Marie Stuart Edwards. She was one of four women who organized the National League of Women Voters. At that time, she was appointed the first treasurer of the League and she would later be appointed vice-president. The purpose of the League was to insure the passage of an amendment to enfranchise women, to educate voters on democratic responsibilities, and to push for social reform. Later that same year, Marie helped organize Social Justice Day in Marion, Ohio. Over 13,000 women gathered to meet with Senator Warren Harding, who was running for President. The efforts of Marie and others like her paid off. The 19th Amendment was passed on August 18, 1920.
Marie continued her efforts with women’s rights and social causes. She served on the Indiana State Commission for Mental Defectives, the Department of Government for the League of Women Voters, and the Indiana Board of Public Welfare. In Miami County, she was involved with the County Board of Associated Charities and led the local Works Progress Administration board during the Depression.