November 28, 1915: Death of Frances Woodbridge, Duluth’s “Foremost woman civic leader”

On this day in Duluth in 1915, Duluth pioneer and “foremost woman civic leader” Frances Woodbridge died at 74 years old. Woodbridge was born Frances Poole in Portland, Maine, in 1841 and was educated in Boston. She taught at Mississippi’s Holy Springs seminary before returning to Massachusetts to marry William S. Woodbridge in 1870. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to fledgling Duluth, where William opened a paper and stationery store and briefly beginning in 1878 operated the Lake Superior News, a predecessor to the Duluth News Tribune. Upon Frances Woodbridge’s death the Duluth News Tribune wrote that, “Among club women, business men, church workers and civic organizations, Mrs. Woodbridge was known as the leading woman in Duluth. Every movement for permanent improvement in the city of Duluth since it earliest day, has been helped, many times guided and most often presided over by the woman whose loss the whole city will mourn.” Frances Woodbridge was a charter member of Duluth’s Pilgrim Congregational Church and founded the Duluth Women’s Council, serving as its first president. She was also active in Duluth’s Twentieth Century Club, the city’s Liberty Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution, and was in charge of the Women’s Auxiliary of Duluth’s Y. M. C. A. before that organization became known as the Y. W. C. A. Her colleagues on the Duluth Women’s Council said of Woodbridge, “She was sweetly reasonable as she tried to look at matters from the viewpoint of others. No one ever went to her for anything for the good of the city that she did not give her best possible thought to it…. She had a youthful spirit and progressive ideas…. I never heard her say an unkind word of any person.”

Unfortunately, this grainy photo, taken from a digitized 1915 newsper, is the only image we could find of Frances Woodbridge. (Image; Zenith City Press)