Emily Newell Blair
Her father, James P. Newell, was a lawyer who moved to Joplin in 1874 and invested in the lead-mining boom that had recently gotten underway there. Emily was born in 1877. Her father was elected as the county recorder of deeds in 1883, and the family moved to the county seat of Carthage, where Emily was an outstanding student at Carthage High School, graduating in 1894. She attended Goucher College and the University of Missouri before returning to Carthage to take care of her ailing father.
In 1900, she married Harry Wallace Blair at Carthage. He became a lawyer, and Emily became active in the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association. After World War I broke out, her husband went into the military, and Emily became active in the Missouri Woman's Committee of the Council of Defense. Later she worked for the Council of National Defense in Washington, DC.
In 1920, Emily helped found the League of Women Voters, and in 1922 helped found and became president of the Women's National Democratic Club. While still president of this organization, she also became the first woman to hold a prominent position in the Democratic Party, becoming national vice chairman. She campaigned for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and they became friends. Mrs. Blair was also friends with other powerful figures in the party, such as Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, and she and her husband were among the social elite of Washington, DC.
In addition, she served as editor of Good Housekeeping from 1925 to 1934. In 1944, Emily retired from active political and social life after suffering a stroke. She died in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC, in 1951.