Maud J. (Russell) Putney

1880 - 1943


One of the first females elected to the Keene Board of Selectmen.

On November 21st, 1880 Maud Jennie Russell was born to Ella Wood, the daughter of Irish immigrants, and John Russell in Taftsville, Vermont. When Maud was 11 years old, her father died of cancer. Despite this, she completed the eighth grade but did not continue her education further. 

On November 23rd, 1898, Maud married Charles Putney in Hartland, Vermont and the couple moved to Keene, NH within a few years.  Maud gave birth to sons Russell (b. 1902) and Olande (b.1905). Charles bought the well-established Keene Steam Laundry from James A. Toof in 1911. While he owned the business, Maud managed the laundry’s day-to-day operations at 131 Main Street.  By the time she became involved in women’s suffrage and local politics in 1920, Maud was well known as “a strictly business woman” (Boston Post, 19 December 1920).

It was this reputation in business and her community involvement as the 1919 President of the Keene Federation of Women’s Club that prompted her suffragist colleagues to support her bid for municipal office.  Maud was one of the first two women elected to the Board of Selectmen in 1920. In addition, she was one of seven women elected to office in Keene that year. 

Maud only served one term on the Board, but she did continue to manage the laundry with her husband as the owner and her sons as bookkeepers. Upon her death on August 21st, 1943, Maud was listed as the proprietor of Keene Steam Laundry. She is remembered as a business woman and civil servant.

Biography by Grace Phippard, August 2020

Points of Interest

  • Grave. Maple Avenue Cemetery, Atwood Road, Hillsborough, New Hampshire
  • Where Maud and Charles rented a home in 1910. 206 Washington Street, Keene, New Hampshire -
  • Maud's home in 1920 while on the Board of Selectmen. 58 Church Street, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Maud's home in the 1930s and 1940s. 34 Arch Street, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Site of the Keene Steam Laundry. 131 Main Street, Keene, New Hampshire (currently Athens Pizza)

Important Links

  • history of laundry - History of Laundry in the mid twentieth century
  • - "Seven Women Office Holders in Keene, NH" Boston Post newspaper. 19 December 1920