The following is a Woman of Courage profile written and produced by the St. Lawrence County, NY Branch of the American Association of University Women.
Ogdensburg historian highlights women's suffrage advocate - Marion Sanger Frank, of Ogdensburg, was an advocate of women's suffrage. Video by Ogdensburg Historian Julie Madlin
We now take for granted that women should have the right to vote, but it took over 70 years of hard work before the 19th amendment assured this particular right. Suffragists were sorely disappointed many times during the long struggle and many did not live long enough to see their labor bear fruit.
Marion Sanger Frank of Ogdensburg, NY was prominent among North Country suffragists. She organized and was the president of the Political Equality Club in Odgensburg. She spoke in public and wrote letters to the editor of the local paper about suffrage for women. She was a noted orator and a superb fund-raiser. She had a close connection with the National American Woman Suffrage Association headquarters in New York City. She hosted Anna Howard Shaw in 1915 and Carrie Chapman Catt in 1917 when these two distinguished suffragists came to Ogdensburg to address large audiences at the Opera House.
She was one of twelve Ogdensburg delegates at the first women's suffrage convention to be held in St. Lawrence County. In 1917 she was one of 2,500 women who marched in a suffrage parade in New York City led by the officers of the Suffrage Association. That same year, women did secure the right to vote in New York State, although this "tremendous sweep" had not carried St. Lawrence County.
Marion Sanger was born in New York City in 1875. Her mother died when she was just two and she was raised by her father, paternal grandmother and maiden aunts and attended private schools. Her father was very involved in civic life, serving as president of the New York City Board of Education at one time and president of the Board of Alderman of New York City as well.
She married Julius Frank of Ogdensburg in 1897 in a ceremony at Delmonico's. The couple had three children, Sanger, who died young, Richard, and a daughter Eleanor, who married Edgar L. Schwartz and continued to live in Ogdensburg.
As a suffragist, Marion had the support of her husband, Julius, who served two terms as mayor of Ogdensburg from 1914-1918. A very popular mayor, he used his influence to further women's suffrage. The Ogdensburg Men's League for Woman Suffrage was chaired by Julius Frank. These men wanted to help women in their campaign for the vote. In part, they were showing their appreciation for the many contributions of women to the World War I effort.
The first woman's suffrage convention ever held in St. Lawrence county convened at the Universalist Church in Canton in May, 1914. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, conducted a school for suffrage workers there, and gave a powerful address at the Opera House in Canton that evening. Marion Sanger Frank and the hundreds of others in Catt's audience heard her end her speech with these words: "Do not stand in the way of the next step in human progress. No one living who reads the signs of the times but realizes that woman suffrage must come. We are working for the ballot as a matter of justice and as a step for human betterment."
The Franks continued to take a visible leadership role in the suffrage movement. The next suffrage convention in the county met in Ogdensburg at the Century Club in June, 1915. Mayor Frank welcomed the delegates. The main speaker was Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, who was both a doctor of theology and medicine, and a noted suffrage leader who campaigned in every state where a suffrage measure was under consideration.
Carrie Chapman Catt returned to Ogdensburg in October of 1917 to address a suffrage meeting at which Marion Frank was the presiding officer. A suffrage referendum on the ballot that November passed in the state, but not in St. Lawrence County, even with the tireless and devoted work of local suffragists. Victory was celebrated however in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment.
Marion Sanger Frank continued her civic and political work, becoming involved with the Democratic Party in 1935. She and her husband campaigned for presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt and were friends with Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.
After retirement the Franks lived in New York City. Marion Sanger Frank returned to Ogdensburg after her husband died. She lived with her daughter and son-in-law until her death in 1960 at age 85. Her obituary notice in the Ogdensburg Journal described her as "one of Ogdensburg's most distinguished citizens for more than 60 years."
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