Laura Freele Osborn

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Laura Freele Osborn
Portrait of Laura Freele Osborn.jpg
portrait of Osborn by Leon Makielski
Born1866 (1866)
Huntington, Indiana
Died1955 (aged 88–89)
Occupation(s)Educator, Social reformer
(m. 1891)

Laura A. Freele Osborn (1866-1955) was a suffragist, campaigner for school reform, and long-serving member of the School Board for Detroit Public Schools in Detroit, Michigan during the early half of the 20th century.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born and raised in Huntington, Indiana.


Laura F. Osborn was a prominent advocate of non-partisan school boards in Michigan, including contribution to legislation passed in 1913 and later lobbying then Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris to support this reform.[1]

She was first elected to the Detroit School Board in 1917, campaigning on a platform of reform. She was the first woman elected to citywide office in Detroit. She served on the school board for 38 years, until her death in 1955. During that time she was selected as board president seven times. Osborn also played a role in developing Wayne State University in the mid-1930s.[2][3]

She is also credited with having mobilized women into the cause of school reform and temperance, and also to have "broken the prejudice against women officeholders in Detroit".[4] She also ran unsuccessfully for Detroit City Council two times.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

She taught school in Huntington until her marriage in 1891 to Francis C. Osborn, a Detroit businessman and inventor.



  1. ^ Detroit Historical Society, "Person Record: Osborn, Laura Freele" (accessed 20 October 2020)
  2. ^ "Laura Freele Osborn" (PDF). Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  3. ^ Beckwith, Jamie, "Pewabic tile fountains display beauty, historical significance," The South End, April 21, 2005 (archived page)
  4. ^ Detroit News, Feature entitled "Michigan Women's Hall of Fame," 1928 (no relation to the current Hall of Fame)