Amy Cordoba Rock Ransome (1872-1942) was a well-known suffragist and leader in the National Woman's Party who spent much of her life promoting equal rights for women. Ransome was born in Cordoba, Argentina (the inspiration for her middle name) where her father, Miles Rock, was working at the newly-established Argentine National Observatory. She spent most of her childhood in Washington, D.C. where her parents were well established members of that city's scientific community. They encouraged their two children, ACR (as she was known to family and friends) and her brother Alfred Mayer Rock, to pursue educational opportunities and political activism. ACR attended Bryn Mawr (BA '93), the University of Heidelberg (Chemistry MA '96), and the University of Berlin ('96-7, Ph.D. studies in Chemistry cut short by international friction with Germany over the Spanish-American War). When Ransome returned to Washington, she left her chemistry career behind and shifted her studies to geology. While working as an assistant at the USGS in D.C., she met her future husband, Frederick Leslie Ransome (FLR to family and friends), whom she married in 1899. FLR was a well-known American geologist who helped found the journal Economic Geology in 1905 and was associate editor of the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. Together, they had four children, Janet, Susan, Violet, and Alfred. Both before and after her marriage, Ransome was actively involved in politics and lobbying for progressive women's causes. When she married, she left civil service to raise her family, but she continued her political activities.
In the 1920s and 1930s, as FLR's teaching career took them to Princeton, Tucson and Pasadena, the Ransomes kept their Washington residence. The house in D.C. allowed FLR to continue working as a consultant for the USGS and to participate in the national scientific community. It also gave Ransome a base from which she could further her political work. Ransome maintained the house in Washington after FLR died in 1935 and regularly traveled between California and D.C. to continue her lobbying activities.
When FLR accepted a position at Cal Tech, ACR turned her considerable political skills and expertise to work at the grassroots level in her new place of residence, Pasadena. Since she already had extensive experience and a network of friends who were active on the national level, such as Alice Paul, the relocation to Pasadena made Ransome an obvious candidate for the position of Western Regional Chairman for the National Woman's Party. She also served as Treasurer for the World Woman's Party and Chairman for the American Association of University Women.
One of the highlights of Ransome's career occurred in 1937 when Alice Paul, the Head of the National Woman's Party, asked her to attend the 37th annual assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. This assembly was of historical significance because it was the first time in history where women from around the world met to discuss women's suffrage on a worldwide level and propose various amendments to address the inequalities that existed. One amendment provided for universal suffrage, another stated that there shall be no distinction based on sex in law and practice regarding nationality, a third guaranteed equal rights to men and women in all fields, and a fourth provided that men and women shall both be members with full voting powers of all delegations to the Council and Assembly of the League and to all conferences under auspices of the League. In addition to the amendments, the league appointed a committee to make an extensive study on the status of women throughout the world. The report of the committee's findings would be returned within a two year period, and Ransome was responsible for lobbying within Latin America.
Amy Ransome died suddenly on August 13, 1942.
[Much of this information is courtesy of Ransome's great-grandson, David H. Grace.]