Mary Kendall Loring Colvin (1869-1955)
By Alinda Drury, Ph.D., retired municipal administrator; Vice-President, Rochester Historical Society, Rochester, NY
This biographical sketch was first published on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by permission. That database is accessible at https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN
Corresponding Secretary, 1909 New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association; First Vice-President, 1912 New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association; Member, 1913 National Congressional Committee
Mary Kendall Loring was born November 14, 1869 in Sterling, Massachusetts (Worcester County), the third of the four children of Charles H. Loring and his third wife Georgiana (Pratt) Loring. Charles also had five children from his second marriage to Maria Bigelow Loring; his first wife, Melissa Reed died in the first year of their marriage.
At the age of 20, Mary Loring, a school teacher at the time, married Fred Herbert Colvin (1867-1965) on March 3, 1890. The couple initially settled in the town of Sterling, Massachusetts, but by 1900 were living on Maple Avenue in East Orange, New Jersey. Fred was a machinist and published widely on engineering and labor relations. He and Mary had two sons, Charles Herbert (1893-1965) and Henry Fred Colvin (1898-1988). The Colvins continued to live in New Jersey, moving to Point Pleasant Beach by 1930, where they lived until their respective deaths in 1955 and 1965. She is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in East Orange.
Mary K. Colvin’s suffrage activity is first noted in 1909, when she was elected Corresponding Secretary of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association at the annual State Convention. She was subsequently elected in 1912 as first vice-president of the organization.
In 1913, as vice president, she presented 23 new chapters to the New Jersey annual convention, at which Carrie Chapman Catt was the featured speaker.
A Legislative Committee, comprised of representatives of several suffrage groups including Mrs. Colvin, was formed in 1915 in preparation for the October 19 special election for New Jersey ratification of the national amendment. Through their work, the committee obtained permission from the state to allow women as poll watchers, and under Mrs. Colvin’s direction, Watchers and Workers Schools were held throughout the state and delivered a curriculum developed and taught by her. As a result, poll watchers were attendant at nearly 88 percent of the polls state wide.
Mrs. Colvin was a frequent speaker at various local and state-wide suffrage meetings. In addition to her teaching, speaking, and organizing, she had several letters published in the New York Times expressing her views on woman suffrage.
Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Mary Colvin continued her political activism and was elected corresponding secretary of the New Jersey League of Women Voters in 1922.
1870, 1880, 1900, 1930 US Federal Census
Massachusetts Town and Vital Records 1620-1988
“Local Speakers in Suffrage Cause,” The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) · Aug 20, 1913 · Page 2.
“Enthusiastic Suffrage Meeting,” The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) June 5, 1915 Page 6.
“Mrs. Feickert Again Elected,” The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) · Nov 15, 1913 · Page 1.
“Suffragists’ School of Election Workers,” The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) · Oct 2, 1915 Page 9.
“State Suffrage Annual Meeting,” The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) · Nov 1, 1910 · Page 1.
“Women Voters Hear of Western Farmers, Who Are Going to Canada,” The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, NJ) May 15, 1922 · Page 5.