Harper, Ida Husted (1851–1931)

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Harper, Ida Husted (1851–1931)

American journalist and women's rights advocate. Born Ida Husted on February 18, 1851, in Fairfield, Indiana; died of a cerebral hemorrhage, age 80, in Washington, D.C., on March 14, 1931; finished high school at 17 and entered Indiana University as a sophomore; left after one year to become principal of a high school in Peru, Indiana; married Thomas Winans Harper (a lawyer and friend of labor leader Eugene V. Debs), in 1871 (divorced 1890); children: one daughter, Winnifred Harper, who also became a writer.

Soon after her marriage in 1871, Ida Harper began a 12-year stint, writing for the Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail under a male pseudonym. In 1883, much to the disgruntlement of her husband, she launched a weekly column, "A Woman's Opinions," under her own name. She joined the Indiana suffrage society in 1887 and divorced three years later.

Moving with her daughter Winnifred Harper to Indianapolis, Ida worked for the Indianapolis News. A few years later, she moved to California where she continued writing for the News while doing publicity for Susan B. Anthony 's campaign for California state suffrage (1896). Anthony was so impressed with Harper that she invited her to return to Rochester (N.Y.) as her official biographer. In 1898, having worked from papers tucked away in Anthony's attic, Harper published her two-volume Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (a third volume was added in 1908, following Anthony's death). Ida Harper also assisted Anthony in the fourth volume of History of Woman Suffrage; in 1922, Harper would add volumes five and six. From 1909 on, Ida Husted Harper was a popular columnist for Harper's Bazaar.