Carrie Katherine Richards was born in 1876 in Ada, Ottawa County. Born into a devout family, she joined many organizations and had wished to be a missionary, but as females were not allowed into the clergy at that time she pursued teaching instead. This career lasted only a few years when in 1895 Richards joined her father at Peerless Machine Works. There she began to learn about industrial unions and heard a speech given by “Mother” Jones, a prominent female socialist of the time. Jones inspired Richards to take up with the socialist party.
The early 1910s and ‘20s were a troubled time within America. Faced with threats from abroad, and having just finished a war, many Americans were fearful of the socialist movements that were sweeping the nation. Into this time of chaos stepped Kate Richards O’ Hare, a socialist speaker not afraid to express her opinions on the state of the nation. O’Hare was imprisoned for her efforts, starting her on a new path that would bring about great reforms to the American penal system.
Continuing the fight for change, O’ Hare campaigned until her death in Benicia, California, in 1948. She was one the most well known female activists of her day. From her early years of Christian charity groups, to her later years attempting to reform the prison system, she spent her life fighting to right the wrongs she saw all around her.