Helen Martha <I>Ekin</I> Starrett

Helen Martha Ekin Starrett

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 16 Dec 1920 (aged 80)
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Plot CLM 13, 2, 3
Memorial ID 137961582 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Author, Suffragist, Educator

Born of Quaker parentage and educated in the normal school system, graduated from Pittsburgh’s Central High School at the age of 16. She taught school at Sewickley Female Academy before becoming principal of a female seminary in Georgetown, Kentucky. During the Civil War, she and her sisters successfully ran the Union Female Seminary in Xenia, Ohio. On February 15, 1864, she married the Rev William Aiken Starrett, and the couple moved to Lawrence, Kansas after Quantrill’s 1863 Massacre. In Lawrence she had seven children. She was also a music teacher, newspaper editor, assisted her husband in his school superintendent duties, was active in charitable causes, and quickly became one of the state’s leading speakers and lecturers on the Suffrage Movement. Before entering the lecture circuit and writing full time, she was one of the first female owners of an independent, commercial retail business in Lawrence where she sold pianos. She was one of the first in the area to use aggressive advertising techniques like large newspaper advertisements. In 1867, met Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rev Olympia Brown, and other leading suffragists. Susan B Anthony made the Starrett home the headquarters of the Kansas suffrage movement during 1868, and Helen attended the first National Convention for Women’s Suffrage in Washington DC that year as a delegate from the State of Kansas. It was from the Starretts’ Kansas home that Anthony made her first announcement of a proposed Constitutional Amendment for women’s suffrage. She shared the stage and spoke with many leading supporters of the suffrage movement, including Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Lucy Stone, and many, many others. Mrs Starrett and Susan B Anthony became lifelong friends. When her husband left the church to study law, she supported her family by writing for various national publications and lecturing. She invented two devices for the improvement of ladies’ shoes and had her inventions parented with the National Patent Office. She relocated to St Louis to report for the St Louis Dispatch, but was personally fired by Joesph Pulitzer when he bought the paper because “he had no use for a woman on his newspaper staff.” She moved her family to Chicago, Illinois where she started a literary magazine called the Western Magazine. Following the magazine’s closure, became the founder of Kenwood Institute, Chicago (18840; principal of Mrs Starrett’s Classical School which ultimately because the Starrett School for Girls (1893-1915). During this time, she published numerous articles for national publications, commanded standing room only at lectures on women’s rights throughout the country, and published several books, including Letters to a Daughter (1882), The Future of Educated Women (1880) , The Charm of Fine Manners, (1885) Pete, The Story of a Chicken (1886), Letters to a Little Girl (1886), A Little Sermon to School Girls (1886), Letters to Elder Daughters; Charm of a Well-Mannered Home (1888), Let Her Stand Alone (1890), Crocus and Wintergreen (1907), The Future of Our Daughters, After College; Now What? (1885), many poems and song lyrics, and countless other written works. She and her husband had had seven children: Theodore Starrett b.1865; Paul Starrett b. 1866; Ralph Starrett b. 1868; Katherine Starrett Whitton b. 1870; Helen Starrett Dinwiddie b. 1872; Goldwin Starrett b. 1874; Col. William Aiken Starrett II b.1877. Her five sons would go on to become some of the most famous and influential builders of their time, with resumes boasting landmark feats of American engineering such as the Empire State Building and countless other iconic skyscrapers. Both of her daughters married builders—her daughter Helen married William Stewart Dinwiddie, founder of the Dinwiddie Construction Company, the firm who built the mausoleum in which her cremains are interred. She retired to Portland, Oregon. Before she passed away, she was one of only two original delegates still living to attend both the first Suffrage Convention and the Victory Convention in Chicago, 1920. She lived to see the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution ratified on August 18, 1920. Her presence at the Victory Convention reportedly made her somewhat of a superstar in that she had become an idol and mentor to thousands of women. The New York Sun reported that you could always tell where she was at the Victory Convention because she was constantly surrounded by mobs of women of all ages who wanted to meet her.
In the early twenty first century, several of her books were reprinted by independent publishers and have found a new audience. She is still considered to be a woman of vigorous mind and independent thought.

Family Members

Gravesite Details Death date is interment date, S/W: Starrett, Anna

Planning a visit to Mountain View Cemetery?

  • Maintained by: dirkelps
  • Originally Created by: Kent Gebhard
  • Added: 29 Oct 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 137961582
  • dirkelps
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Martha Ekin Starrett (19 Sep 1840–16 Dec 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 137961582, citing Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by dirkelps (contributor 48570486) .