skip to Main Content

150 Trees for 150 Years  |  Help us restore our urban forest

Clara Hampson Ueland
Print Record

Clara Hampson Ueland

10/10/1860 – 03/01/1927

Place of Death

Minneapolis

Disposition

03/07/1927 (Burial)

Location

Section 9 Lot 208 Grave 3
Directions Map (pdf)
View larger map

Ueland, Clara Hampson (10 Oct. 1860-1 Mar. 1927), teacher, suffragist, and civic leader, was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Oscar Hampson, an unsuccessful businessman, and Eliza Osborn. Her father, discharged in 1863 from the Union army because of unspecified ailments, died a year later, leaving his impoverished widow with two small children. The trio of Hampsons sought refuge with Eliza's sisters, initially in Faribault, Minnesota, and then in Minneapolis. They finally settled in a small apartm ent over a hardware store in an area of the city that prompted Maud Conkey Stockwell, a schoolmate, friend, and later a fellow suffragist, to comment, "I can remember thinking how incongruous she was with all the saloons around that district. She was dark and slim, a beauty beyond compare" (B. Ueland, "Clara," p. 16). Despite her surroundings and continuing poverty, Clara was happy in school and a well-adjusted young woman. It says something about her character that she refused other invitations to a junio r class dance to go with the only African-American boy in the school, because she felt he needed friendship and support. Clara liked learning and probably would have continued her education beyond high school had she had the resources to do so. But like ma ny young women of her time, she turned to teaching as a suitable career. Eight years later, in 1885, she married Andreas Ueland, a Norwegian immigrant who had studied law at night while working during the day as a common laborer. At the time of their marri age, he had been elected a probate judge and later became a prosperous attorney. Between 1886 and 1902 eight children were born to this union, one of whom died in early childhood. Although Clara Ueland's civic activism was retarded by the responsibilities of a growing family, she put her experience as an educator and her ideals as a thoughtful and well-read woman to work at home. She made no distinction between the girls and the boys "in actions, freedom, education or possibilities" (B. Ueland, Me, p. 36). The boys were expected to make their own beds. The girls were dressed in knee pants when they played baseball and football. She taught all her children at home until they were in second grade, making sure that they shared her enthusiasm for learning and w ere eager for more schooling. Ueland's interest in education prompted her to support the then-novel idea of kindergartens, and in 1890 she established a neighborhood kindergarten in her home. Two years later she and friends formed the Minneapolis Kindergar ten Association, organizing a number of free kindergartens and establishing a training school for kindergarten teachers. The association disbanded in 1905 with the integration of kindergartens into the Minneapolis public school system. In keeping with her intellectual pursuits, Ueland in 1893 joined the Peripatetics, a prominent literary society, and in 1907 was one of the founders of the Woman's Club of Minneapolis, where she honed her executive skills on behalf of a wide range of civic improvement projec ts. She was a devoted supporter of the arts, serving as an early member of the governing board of the Minnesota State Art Society, and was a strong advocate for inclusion of immigrant arts and crafts in museums. Although she had followed the suffrage movem ent from the time of the 1901 convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in Minneapolis, she did not take an active leadership role until prompted by the growing interest and involvement of her daughters. Ueland's decision to "d o a little something for the cause" (B. Ueland, "Clara," p. 212) reflected her commitment to justice and equality and to her belief that women voters would support progressive policies, especially those relating to education and the well-being of women and children. Her initiative in forming the Equal Suffrage Club of Minneapolis in 1913 was followed by her agreement the following year to serve as the thirteenth and last president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association. Ueland's political acumen, her o rganizational skills, and her ability to inspire women to an even greater effort finally (after fifty-two years) won support from Minnesota legislators for presidential suffrage in 1919. That same year the legislature in special session ratified the Ninete enth Amendment. Her suffrage leadership was hailed by friends and acknowledged by foes. At the St. Louis convention of the NAWSA in 1919, president Carrie Chapman Catt called for the establishment of a League of Women Voters to pick up where the fight for suffrage left off. A few state leagues--including the one in Minnesota--were organized in the ensuing months, and on 29 October 1919 Ueland assumed the state presidency of the successor organization. Four months later, in February 1920, Ueland attended th e last convention of the national suffrage association in Chicago, where she played an important role in the formation of the national League of Women Voters but declined to be named a regional director and board member of the new organization. Although Ue land resigned as Minnesota League of Women Voters president in 1920 in order to pass the leadership on to a new generation, she continued to be active as chair of the League's Legislative Committee and in that capacity organized the Legislative Council, a lobbying federation of women's organizations. She also served as a leader of campaigns on behalf of the Child Labor Amendment and U.S. adherence to the World Court. Her work never ceased for what she called "the ultimate betterment of the state and nation " (League of Women Voters of Minnesota records, Minnesota Historical Society). The banner headline on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune on 2 March 1927, "Mrs. Andreas Ueland Killed," shocked readers who held this remarkable citizen in high regard. They read in disbelief and sorrow the tragic story of Ueland's death as she was returning home from a session of the Minnesota legislature only to be run down by a truck on an icy street just before she reached the driveway of her home in Minneapolis. Fro m American National Biography, published by Oxford University Press, Inc., copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies.

Back To Top