Ida Rust MacPherson


1869 - 1946

Ida Rust Macpherson, a woman of national stature, had many talents and used almost all to the benefit of womankind. 

For more than a generation, she brought to Saginaw honors as the home of a great and articulate leader in the cause of women’s rights. Equal rights for women became a burning cause with her. Her espousal of it gave her international attention. She not only was an ardent woman suffragette, but a leader of womenfolk to benefit from their new-found voting rights. She also was a diligent worker for world peace and security. She was a philanthropist and wise counselor of women’s organizations of all kinds. But the activities for which she long will be remembered revolved around equal suffrage for women and their training to use it for the benefit of the nation and the world. Other women suffragists might be militant and even violent, but not Saginaw’s Ida Rust Macpherson. She did an effective job and prudently avoided the spectacular. In association with Carrie Chapman Catt and other leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, Mrs. Macpherson helped lay foundations for successful campaigns to push through Congress, then through the legislatures, the constitutional amendment which gave American women voting rights equal to men. 

After the suffrage battle was won, Mrs. Macpherson then turned to organizational work for the League of Women Voters. This was to help train American women to make judicious use of their new privilege as voters. Mrs. Macpherson founded the Saginaw County League of Women Voters. She served as its president in the difficult years when women’s suffrage still was fighting to prove itself. She was an officer, director and counselor of the State League. For several years she was an essential power in affairs of the League’s national organization. With other LWV leaders, she worked tirelessly in the days after World War I for American approval of the World Court of International Relations and for entry into the League of Nations. 

On several occasions, she represented American women’s organizations at League of Nations sessions in Geneva. She also was a representative of American women at the International Congress of Women, conducted in Berlin. Another of her major political activities was an active part in the struggle for adoption of the child labor amendment to the U. S. Constitution. 

In recognition of her work, Mrs. Macpherson was chosen as one of three Michigan women whose names appeared on the national roll of honor tablet dedicated in 1930 by the National League of Women Voters. 

Despite her role on the national scene, Mrs. Macpherson for many years was identified closely with Saginaw’s community life. 

She was one of the founders and several times president of the Saginaw Art Club. She was one of the organizers of the Free Kindergarten Association, from which grew Saginaw’s modern extensive kindergarten program. She was for many years a director of the YWCA and the Home for the Aged and was on the board of Saginaw General Hospital. These and other organizations at various times received her benefactions. These included gifts to Saginaw General Hospital, the Home for the Aged, the Children’s Home, Rollins College in Florida, California Institute of Technology at Pasadena, and Scripps College in California. In 1940, she was made an honorary alumna of Scripps College and also an associate of California Institute of Technology. 

Her home in Saginaw, like her winter residence in Pasadena, was a center for delightful parties. She was an excellent hostess, as well as a devoted wife and mother. 

Ida Grout Rust was born in Saginaw, July 19, 1869, a daughter of Mariette Grout and Amasa Rust, who was one of the Saginaw Valley’s pioneer lumbermen. On June 3, 1891, she was married to James Grant Macpherson. They had two children. 

Socialite, suffragist, social worker superb, Mrs. Macpherson at her death elicited this editorial in the Saginaw News. It was titled, “A Truly Great Woman.” “The death Monday of Ida Rust Macpherson took from Saginaw a woman whose community contribution had been large. But it took from state and nation a woman who had been a valiant and resourceful fighter for women’s rights—and a training for responsibilities that go with them. “She left her mark deep in the record of the fight for women’s suffrage, and in the organization of women for the task they had undertaken when they won the right of the vote. “She was in the forefront of every cultural and charitable movement in her home city and a liberal-handed contributor to community ventures which have charity as their aim. “The daughter of Saginaw pioneers of the heyday of lumber’s reign in the Saginaw Valley, she was accustomed all her life to wealth, but in no phase of her life did that cost her the common touch. Her friends were numbered by the thousands, literally all who knew her. She was a good and great woman.” 

Mrs. Ida Rust Macpherson died at her home in Saginaw on February 4, 1946. She was 76. 

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