By Julie Kellndorfer, undergraduate student, and Annie Frantel, graduate student, Simmons College
Very little is known about Frances A. Fowler of Brookline, Massachusetts. According to the census of 1920, she was born in 1899 in Massachusetts to Murray Fowler, a publisher, and Anne MacKerron Fowler. Frances’s parents were immigrants from Canada and Scotland, respectively. Both had become naturalized U.S. citizens in 1905. Frances moved with her parents, her maternal grandmother, her younger sister Florence (or Flora), and her younger brother Murray H. Jr, to Brookline sometime after 1910. Frances worked as a stenographer while Flora was a bookkeeper.
On February 24th, 1919, Fowler participated in a demonstration in Boston that met President Wilson upon his return from Europe with signs and banners that urged him to pressure the Senate to accept the suffrage amendment before the March third recess. The police first asked the picketers to disperse, but when they refused, Fowler and over a dozen others were arrested on the charge of “loitering for more than seven minutes” and sent to the Charles Street Jail. On February 25th, Fowler and the others were sentenced to a full eight days in the jail. However, the judge dismissed Fowler’s charges on account of her ill health, and she did not return to jail.
Frances Fowler disappears from Brookline city records in 1922. She does not appear on the federal census of 1930 either. This could mean that Fowler moved to a different city or state, married and changed her name, or passed away.
“Boston Suffrage Prisoners Released.” The Suffragist, 15 March 1919, 3.
Irwin, Inez H. The Story of the Woman’s Party. New York: Harcourt, Brace,1921.
“List of Polls and Property, assessed in the town of Brookline, MA for the Year 1917.” Board of Assessors Brookline. Riverdale Press Printers, 1917.
“Reminding the President When He Landed in Boston,” The Suffragist, 1 March 1919, 6-8.
U. S. Federal Manuscript Census, 1920.