Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Emily Newell Blair

Perhaps you've never heard of Emily Newell Blair before. I was only vaguely aware of her myself until I started doing a little research on her, and what little awareness of her I had before that was due entirely to the fact that she was born in Joplin, where I live, and grew up in nearby Carthage. She is someone that I feel I should have known more about already, though, because she was one of the more famous and accomplished women ever to come out of southwest Missouri.
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.

2 Comments:

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