CLAPP, NETTIE MACKENZIE, (22 Aug. 1858-30 July 1935) became the first woman elected to the Ohio house of representatives from Cuyahoga County in 1922, two years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She was born and attended schools in Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati School of Art, and became an interior designer and illustrator of children’s books. In 1891, she married Dr. Harold T. Clapp, a recent graduate of the medical school of Western Reserve University (now CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY). She was active in several women’s organizations, including the CLEVELAND WOMAN’S CLUB, the WOMEN’S CITY CLUB, the Cleveland Heights Women’s Civic League, and local suffrage organizations. During WORLD WAR I, Clapp organized the Cleveland Heights Auxiliary of the Red Cross and supported food conservation efforts and the sale of victory bonds. She was elected president of the local Republican Women’s League of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County in 1922.
In pursuit of their newly acquired votes, the Republican Party encouraged women to go into politics, endorsing Clapp’s run for the house of representatives in 1922. Clapp became one of the first six women, all Republicans, to be elected to the Ohio legislature. During her tenure, she focused on social welfare issues, which were considered appropriate interests for women. Clapp was chosen chair of the committees on public libraries, and on state penal and welfare institutions. In 1923, she authored a bill that made the teaching of the federal and state constitutions mandatory in public schools. She was re-elected in 1924 and 1926, endorsed by the local Republican organization and the CITIZENS’ LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND.
Although women like LUCIA MCCURDY MCBRIDE, a member of the Republican executive committee, complained that women were excluded from important policy decisions, the party put Clapp on the committee that planned the REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION OF 1924 in Cleveland. She organized a Women’s Committee that provided hospitality to visiting delegates. She also attended the inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge in March 1925.
In 1928, Clapp won a close race for the state house of representatives, running behind 12 Republican candidates but far ahead of 8 Democrats. She lost in the Republican primary for the state senate in 1930.
Clapp had one daughter, Dorothy Annette (Mrs. Daniel H. Petty). Clapp’s husband died May 27, 1948. Both are buried in Lisbon Cemetery in Lisbon, Ohio.
Updated by Marian Morton.