Mary Jane Coggeshall

Lived:January 17, 1836—December 22, 1911 (aged 75)
Career:Charter Member, Iowa Woman Suffrage Association, 1870-1891, 1903-1905
President, Iowa Woman Suffrage Association, 1890-1891
Board of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1885
Iowa Hall of Fame Inductee, 1990

Mary Jane Coggeshall (January 17, 1836 - December 22, 1911) of Des Moines, Iowa, was known as "the mother of woman suffrage in Iowa."

Coggeshall was born in Indiana and moved to Des Moines in 1865 with her husband and children. In 1870, she was a charter member of both the Polk County Woman Suffrage Society and the Iowa Women Suffrage Association. She served as the IWSA president in 1890, 1891 and 1903-1905, and then as honorary president from 1905-1911. She also served as president of the Des Moines Equal Suffrage Club in 1898.

Coggeshall was the first editor of the IWSA's newspaper, the Women's Standard, from 1886-1888, and returned as editor in 1911. She was a continuing contributor to the Women's Standard, as well as to state and national newspapers. She was a frequent spokeswoman for women's suffrage, addressing the Iowa House and Senate committees and many woman suffrage meetings.

Of the early Iowa suffragists, Coggeshall was one of the few active on the national level. In 1895, she was elected to the board of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the first woman from west of the Mississippi River to join the NAWSA board. She was also elected as the second auditor of NAWSA in 1902, and spoke at the NAWSA national convention in 1904 and 1907.

Coggeshall marched in America's third-ever women's suffrage parade, which took place in Boone, Iowa, in 1908. Also in 1908, she brought a lawsuit against the city of Des Moines after women were denied ballots during a city bond election, a form of election in which it had been legal for women to vote by state law since 1894. The Iowa Supreme Court held that the election was void because women, as a class, were barred from voting.

In addition to her work for women's suffrage, Coggeshall sat on the board of directors for the Home for the Aged and the Humane Society in Des Moines, and was a member of the Professional Women's League, the Monday Club, the Chauncey Depew Club and the Playground Association.

Coggeshall was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1990.