Ida Husted attended Indiana University and became first a school teacher and then a principal. In 1871, she married Thomas Winans Harper, an attorney and politician, and the couple had a daughter, Winifred. Ida Husted Harper wrote articles for local newspapers under the pseudonym "John Smith," and her interest in working and in campaigning for women's rights grew steadily despite her husband's disapproval. They separated and finally divorced in 1890. Ida Husted Harper got a job on the staff of the Indianapolis News and in 1887, helped organize a women's suffrage society in Indiana, serving as its secretary. In 1896, she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association, for which she worked as a reporter and historian of the movement. She brought Susan B. Anthony to Terre Haute for a women's suffrage convention and became close to her during this period. They collaborated on writing the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1922), along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage. Ida Husted Harper moved to New York, where she wrote articles for periodicals such as Harper's Bazaar and from 1897 lived in Susan B. Anthony's home. She wrote Ms. Anthony's authorized biography.