MAUDE COMSTOCK WAITT, (11 Aug. 1878-13 Dec. 1935) became the first woman from Cuyahoga County to be elected to the Ohio Senate in 1922, two years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She was born and educated in Vermont, and taught school in Massachusetts, where she met and married her husband Walter G. Waitt in 1903.
In 1914, they moved to Ohio, settling in LAKEWOOD. Waitt threw herself into local politics, supporting a successful drive in 1917 to allow Lakewood women to vote in municipal elections. In 1918, she was elected chair of the Lakewood Woman’s Suffrage Party, and during WORLD WAR I, she and other suffragists sold war bonds to demonstrate that women were responsible citizens and deserved the vote. In 1921, she was elected to Lakewood City Council.
The Republican Party courted the votes of newly enfranchised women and encouraged them to run for state office. In 1922, Waitt, along with NETTIE M. CLAPP, was among the seven Republican women who entered the primaries for the Ohio General Assembly. (Democrats fielded only three women candidates). Waitt won her race for the senate, becoming one of the first six women in the Ohio legislature. Waitt also won election in 1924, 1926, and 1928, endorsed by the local Republican organization and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (now the PLAIN DEALER).
During her time in the senate, she introduced a bill to equalize male and female membership on political parties’ committees (1923). In 1925, she opposed a measure initiated by the Ku Klux Klan--then at the height of its political power--to make reading the Bible mandatory in public schools. She chaired committees on public institutions and after visits to state prisons, became an advocate for their reform.
Because of term limits, Waitt was not eligible to run for the state senate in 1930. Despite failing health, she remained active in local politics, most notably in the WOMEN’S CITY CLUB, the LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, and the CITIZENS LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND.
In 1932, fearful of a Depression-fueled Democratic sweep, she served on a special fund-raising committee for CHESTER C. BOLTON in his race for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Bolton defeated his opponent, Democrat FLORENCE ELLINWOOD ALLEN. The citizenship classes that Waitt had initiated in 1920 were continued by the Lakewood Woman’s Club until the mid-1940s.
Waitt died from a heart disease and after her death, she was cremated. She was survived by her husband and their daughter, Doris Ida.
Updated by Marian Morton
Maude C. Waitt Scrapbook, WRHS.