McCULLOCH, Mrs. Catharine Waugh

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Dublin Core


Catharine Waugh McCulloch was born in Ransomville, New York, on June 4, 1862.  She graduated from Rockford Female Seminary, earning both a bachelor's degree and master's degree, and attended Union College of Law.

A temperance advocate from an early age, Catharine was a member of the Young Woman's Christian Temperance Union.  Also passionate about suffrage, she passed out a pro-suffrage speech to counter the anti-suffrage speech that her town's Presbyterian minister was giving.   

Catharine practiced law with Frank
 Hathorn McCulloch, a law school classmate whom she married on May 30, 1890, in Winnebago, Illinois.  Their firm was known as McCulloch & McCulloch.

Catharine spoke at many events in support of suffrage.  At the Cleveland convention in 1896, she and Julia Holmes Smith each presented an argument for the Democratic Party supporting suffrage.  

One milestone in Catharine's legal career was on February 21, 1898, when she was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court.

By 1900, Catharine was listed as a lawyer living at 2236 Orrington Avenue in Evanston with her husband and her children, Hugh and Hathorn. 

Catharine and Frank filed an argument and brief in Chicago in support of municipal suffrage for women in late May of 1906.  The next year, when Catharine was elected justice of the peace for Evanston, and the first female justice of the peace in the country, she changed the marriage contract to omit the wording that a woman must obey her husband.

The McCullochs took a four-month trip to Europe during the summer of 1908 and visited several countries.  By this time, their family had had expanded to include two younger children, Catharine and Frank. 

Catharine spoke before the Society of Anthropology in 1909, making an argument that "woman was the originator of most of the good things in the world."  After praising women from Eve on, she asked her audience to vote on woman suffrage and got a positive result.

Catharine was the legal advisor for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, while also serving as an auditor, and later the Vice-President.  At the time of the 1912 Presidential campaign, Catharine insisted that the Republican Party would suffer the wrath of the suffragists if suffrage was not included in the platform. 

Later that year, she placed an ad in the Rock Island Argus that she would pay one dollar for every one hundred signatures collected in support of Illinois suffrage.  While she toiled mightily for suffrage, Catharine was quite vocal in her opposition to the "militant methods" of British suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst.  Her efforts were successful and Illinois women gained suffrage in 1913. 

Catharine was overjoyed when the Illinois Democratic state convention selected her as a 1916 delegate for Woodrow Wison, commenting, "The Democratic party has, indeed, put itself out to honor womanhood."  She continued her efforts for suffrage for Illinois women in February of 1917, arguing for an amendment, against Grace Wilbur Trout, who believed that a convention alone would suffice.  Unfortunately for Catharine, the constitutional convention route was chosen by the time September came.  According to Free-Trader Journal, Catharine wanted to unify women in the state, so she agreed to support the constitutional convention. Catharine continued to speak in Iowa and other states in support of suffrage.

Once the League of Women Voters was founded in 1919, Catharine was involved with this organization.  By 1922, she was the chair of the committee on uniform laws.  According to Washington D.C.'s Evening Star, this committee advocated for several issues related to marriage and motherhood.

A 1926 article by Lillian Campbell celebrated Catharine's forty years of having success in her law practice.  After mentioning some of her professional accomplishments, it notes, "She is the mother of four children, all university graduates, and two of her sons practice law with their father and mother."

Catharine continued being active in the Democratic Party, speaking at the conventions of the National Woman's Democratic Law Enforcement League in 1929 and 1931, and serving as its Second Vice President from 1929 until at least 1932.  She also served her country as a member of the Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America.

During her long career, in addition to her work in the field of law and her suffrage work, Catharine found time to advocate for temperance, to serve as legal advisor to the W.C.T.U., to write books and plays., and to participate in numerous organizations in the Chicago area. 

Catharine passed away in Evanston on April 20, 1945, and was buried three days later in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.



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