Muncie Branch History

In July 1912, Mrs. Jessie Doran, wife of M.A. Doran, a salesman for Ball Brothers Glass Company called for a committee on organizing a Muncie League of the Woman’s Franchise League.  During the meeting at the YWCA, Mrs. Electa Chase Murphy, wife of Horace Murphy, a local attorney, was elected as chairman.

Woman's Franchise League of Muncie is Called to Order. Woman's Franchise League records, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries

The first President of the League was Mrs. Susan Ryan Marsh, and by 1913 the league was active in their work.  While the clear purpose of the league was to gain women the right to vote and they referred to themselves as “The Suffrage League,” the organization broadened their objectives to include educational, temperance, child labor laws, and city ordinance issues. The League created working groups such as the committee on literature, membership and distribution. Education or the distribution of information about the Woman’s Franchise League, women’s suffrage, and the temperance movement were all objectives of the League. Literature and pamphlets were placed in public places such as the Y.W.C.A and the Muncie Public Library. The Muncie League was active from 1912 to 1920 and at one time, the membership of the League contained more than 250 members, including famous Muncie names such as Ball, Barr, Kirby, Lesh, and Ryan.

Susan Ryan Marsh
Ball State University Libraries. 

Bertha Crosley Ball 
Minnetrista Heritage Collection

Lillian Ryan
Ball State University Libraries.  

Woman's Franchise League Constitution and Bylaws, 1916. Woman's Franchise League records, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Woman's Franchise League of Muncie program, 1914-1915. Woman's Franchise League records, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

The meetings of the League were social occasions for the women of Muncie, as well as educational experiences. Many presentations were conducted around local issues such as enforcement of city curfews, current state laws, and the Indiana State Constitution. Guest lecturers or presenters from different organizations of the state organization would speak on current topics. In November of 1913, Mrs. Harry Miller, who was a member of the Woman’s Franchise League State Board, delivered a talk titled, “Suffrage: Its Effect upon the Liquor Evil.” According to the meeting minutes, “she presented the comprehensive manner, that brought a hearty response from the league and stirred up spirited enthusiasm.” The minutes continue to outline the meaning of the presentation, suggesting that the enfranchisement of women would mean peace and liquor reform and overall bettering of humanity and good over evil. 

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