Martha R. Almy

Martha Almy



Born: April 30, 1850

Birthplace: Springwater, New York

Died: January 28, 1934

Place of Burial: Sunnyside Cemetery, Long Beach, California

Contribution: Suffrage leader, women’s rights advocate, and candidate for local office


Martha Robinson was born in Springwater (Livingston County), New York on April 30, 1850. Her parents were natives of New York State.[1]

Robinson attended Genesee College where she earned a B.S. degree in 1870, and her M.S. in 1888. After earning her bachelor’s she taught for a brief period of time in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On March 9, 1871, when she was 21, she married J. Ebenezer Almy in Kent, Michigan. They had two children: Don W. Almy, born in 1874, and Carrie R. Almy, born in 1880.[2] 

Martha and husband    J. Ebenezer Almy

After moving back to New York State, Almy and her family lived in Jamestown, New York for a number of years.[3] Both of her children attended school there. Ebenezer was a county school commissioner from 1879 to 1881. (This elected position no longer exists in New York State.) He later pursued dentistry, owning his own office.[4]

In 1892, New York State law granted women the right to vote for county school commissioner. Almy ran for school commissioner in the Third District against Jay R. Flagg in 1893. Several members of the Chautauqua County Political Equality Club (an organization that had formed in 1888 to support women’s suffrage) wanted the Democratic County Convention to endorse Almy’s candidacy. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union backed Almy’s candidacy. However, women did not in the masses, and Almy lost to Flagg.[5] In announcing her candidacy, Martha declared:

The women believe that there are yet some departments of education and some phases of school life that need that patient consideration and painstaking effort that woman is pre-eminently qualified to give.[6]

Almy was an active leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Chautauqua County, as well as in the state. She served as the vice-president-at-large for the New York State Woman Suffrage Association. In 1894, when a special convention was held in Albany to consider revisions to the New York State constitution, she played a pivotal role in efforts to get women’s right to vote included in the changes.[7] During this time she joined forces in Rochester with Susan B. Anthony. Together they outlined plans for statewide conventions and corresponded with supporters across the state to circulate pro-suffrage petitions. On November 15 of the same year, Almy was appointed chairman of the state association’s Finance Committee.[8]

Ultimately, delegates to the constitutional convention voted against an amendment enfranchising women.[9] But suffrage leaders kept up their lobbying work, hoping to convince members of next year’s state legislature to put the matter of women’s suffrage before voters. In 1895, Almy, as chair of the state suffrage organization’s Legislative Committee, began work in Albany in early January. She was assisted by Helen G. Ecob in their effort to secure a resolution to amend the constitution by striking out the word “male.” Although this campaign would also fail, Almy was successful in the short term in getting the bill through both houses of the legislature. At the time, newspaper coverage called it “the greatest victory in the history of the cause in New York state.” Speaking of her work among the legislators, Almy said:

I must say that I was always treated with the utmost respect, not only as an individual, but as the representative of the movement for which I spoke.[10]

Later in the 1890s, Almy worked on behalf of industrial laborers to help ensure safe conditions in the state’s factories. In 1897, she was appointed as a deputy factory inspector for New York State, a position that earned her an annual income of $1,200, the same as her male counterparts.[11] She also worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to help write the controversial Woman’s Bible. However, Almy’s name was removed from the second volume in 1898.[12] 

Almy’s gravestone in Long Beach, CA

In 1902, her writing talents led Almy to write lyrics for a centennial song to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Chautauqua County’s first settlement. The words were published in the Centennial History of the county.[13]

By 1910, the Almy’s moved to Long Beach, California.[14] Shortly after, J. Ebenezer Almy passed away. Not long after her husband’s death, Almy applied for her passport. It was approved by April 20, 1922.[15] Through 1924, she traveled between California, Hawaii, Quebec, and Liverpool.[16] 

Martha Robinson Almy died on January 28, 1934, at the age of 83.[17] She is buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, Long Beach, California.[18] 

Compiled by Courtney Aldrich, 2017


Primary Sources to Explore

Almy’s speech to the Suffrage Committee of the New York State Constitutional Convention, June 7, 1894

Almy’s suffrage work credited in several newspapers across the country, May 1895

Anti-suffrage critique of The Woman’s Bible, naming Almy and other contributors to the controversial book

Almy’s song commemorating the 100th anniversary of Chautauqua County’s settlement, 1902



[1] Passport Applications, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925, roll 1915, certificates 149476-149849, April 19-20, 1922, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; 1900 U.S. Census, Jamestown Ward 1, Chautauqua County, New York, roll 1014, page 11A, enumeration district 102.

[2]  Frank Smalley, Alumni Record and General Catalogue Of Syracuse University, 1872-1899... (Syracuse, NY: Alumni Association of Syracuse University, 1899) 1: 274,

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Chautauqua County, Charlotte, NY, roll 815, Family History, Provo, UT.

[4] Phin M. Miller, Chautauqua County Schools and Education, 1802-1902 (Westfield, NY: Phin M. Miller, 1902), 34,

[5] Elnora Monroe Babcock, “Political Equality Movement,” in The Centennial History of Chautauqua County, New York (Jamestown: Chautauqua History Company, 1904), 1: 515,

[6] “Women As School Commissioners,” The [Los Angeles] Herald, October 1, 1893, 11,

[7] Traci I Langworthy, “Women’s ‘Banner County’: Chautauqua County and the Suffrage Movement,” Western New York Heritage 16, no. 4 (Winter 2014): 25-26.

[8] 1894. Constitutional-Amendment Campaign Year: Report of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (Rochester: Charles Mann, 1895), 156, 172,

[9] For a summary of the 1894 suffrage campaign see “NYS Suffrage Campaign 1893-1894,” Western New York Suffragists: Winning the Vote,

[10] “Shall Women Vote; Female Suffragists Think Their Long Fight is About to End,” St. Paul Globe, May 8, 1895, 3,

[11] “Condensed Dispatches,” Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, 1897, 1.

[12] “Leaflet: The Woman’s Bible [Circa 1895-1898],” Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection, accessed April 11, 2017,

[13] The Centennial History of Chautauqua County, New York (Jamestown: Chautauqua History Company, 1904), 1: 698,

[14] 1910 U.S. Census, Jamestown Ward 2, Chautauqua County, New York, roll T624 930, page 7B, enumeration district 149.

[15] Passport Applications, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925, roll 1915, certificates 149476-149849, April 19-20, 1922, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.

[16] Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, 1900-1953, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004, record group 85, series A4156, roll 127, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954, ibid., series M1464, roll 446; and Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Pedro/Wilmington/Los Angeles, California, ibid., NAI number 4486355..

[17] California Death Index, 1905-1939 (California Department of Health and Welfare), accessed May 2017,

[18] “Martha Robinson Almy,” Find A Grave, accessed April 27, 2017,