Dr. Jessie A. Russell, recognized as one of the most notable women of the state, is a native of Chicago, Illinois. She is a daughter of the late Robert Logan and Lena Belle (Mackay) Jack. Her father was a native of Ayrshire, Scotland, and her mother was a daughter of Duncan and Jessie Mackay, pioneer settlers of Illinois.
Dr. Russell attended a private school for girls during early girlhood, later taking a teachers’ course at the State Normal School, then the University of Chicago, where she received the degree of A. B. She then went to the Boston Conservatory of Music and Oratory, where she completed, with honor, a three-year course in vocal and instrumental music and oratory.
In 1902 Dr. Russell matriculated in the S. S. Still College of Osteopathy and Surgery at Des Moines, Iowa; and upon her graduating from a three year course there, completed a post graduate course in medicine in Chicago. She came to Los Angeles and maintained offices there and in Long Beach. In the practice of her profession she was most successful, winning national distinction and honor by being the first osteopath in the United States, to receive recognition from the leading life insurance companies. She was appointed medical examiner for four companies of national prominence, holding these appointments until ill health compelled retirement from professional activity. After regaining her health she studied law at the University of Southern California and planned to follow that profession, but in 1917, because of her activity and popularity in several organizations, she was elected state president of the California Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations for a term of three-years. With the nation just entering the World War, Dr. Russell found herself elected to four of the most important positions held by women of California; including, beside the state presidency, chairmanship of the Los Angeles County Women’s Council of Defense; vice-presidency of the Women’s Legislative Council, of California; and vice-presidency of the Women’s City Club, of Los Angeles. For the ensuing three years she devoted all of her leisure time to public work.
In 1909, Dr. Russell came to Glendale, where her ability was at once recognized. She was the first president of the Colorado Boulevard Parent-Teacher Association and also of the Parent-Teacher Federation upon its organization, being elected to these offices for three consecutive terms. Later she was elected president of the Intermediate Parent-Teacher Association for two-terms. She organized and was the first president of the Glendale Choral Club; the first real coordination of musical activity in the city. Always active in civic affairs, she has held numerous offices in various civic organizations. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, chairman of its civic committee, a former vice-president of that organization and secretary of the park commission. She has been chairman of civics of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs, and of the Glendale Tuesday Afternoon and Thursday Afternoon Clubs. She is a member of the Friday Morning Club, of Los Angeles, a charter member of the Women’s City Club, of Los Angeles, and also of the Women’s Republican Club, of Southern California, of which she is vice-president. She held the office of National Chairman of the Legislation of the National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations for several years, during which time she made numerous trips to Washington, D. C., and lectured in most of the states in the Union, her services as a speaker being in great demand. She is an active member of over a score of organizations including the College of Women’s Club, the South Side Ebell, the Glendale Music Club, Order Eastern Star, White Shrine and others.
Politically, Dr. Russell is a progressive Republican. She was active in the suffrage campaigns, and always has been active in city, county and state campaigns. In 1916, she received a distinction never before accorded a women in the nation; that of having a committee, including the state chairman of the Republican party from an eastern state, come to California and personally extend her an invitation to go East, to assist in organizing the campaign. The many interesting phases offered proved so alluring, that Dr. Russell accepted and spent six weeks in the work. Keenly alert to the needs of the hour, Dr. Russell has been a potent factor in women’s activities throughout California.
In 1898, she was married to I. H. Russell, an attorney of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have one son, Harold Julian, now attending the State University.
From History of Glendale and Vicinity by John Calvin Sherer. The Glendale Publishing Company, c. 1922 F. M. Broadbooks and J. C. Sherer. P. 335-337. A photo of Dr. Jessie A. Russell appears on page 334.