By Ryan Parenteau and Tessa Sances, undergraduates, Saint Anselm College
Marie Bodenheim, born in Maryland in 1899 as Minna Schein, made her mark on history when she participated in a protest at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on March 4, 1919. While President Woodrow Wilson was giving a speech inside, members of the National Woman’s Party burned notes of the speech outside the building. According to the New York Times, some of their members bought tickets from “speculators” for high prices in order to gain admittance and take notes on the speech. Earlier that day, as the protesters were marching from the NWP headquarters to the opera house, they met a blockade of police at Broadway and a skirmish between them occurred. Six women who seemed to be the leaders, including Marie Bodenheim (the others being Alice Paul, Doris Stevens, Elsie Hill, Beatrice Castleton, and Lucy Maverick) were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; a half an hour to an hour later they were all released and able to participate in the burning.
The opera house arrest seems to be the only recorded event that Marie Bodenheim participated in and not much is known about her personal life either. At some point, she apparently worked as a writer’s secretary and for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), but there is no primary source evidence to prove this. In 1918, she married a famous poet from Mississippi, Maxwell Bodenheim, and they were living in New York City during the time of the protest. Marie apparently inspired many of Maxwell’s poems in his book, Minna and Myself. Marie and Max moved to England in 1920, and lived there for a period of time. While they lived in England, they had a son, Solbert,, who was born in 1920 or 1921. They ended up getting divorced in 1938. After the divorce, Minna seems to have lived in New York City with Solbert along with a boarder, Albert Roberts.
In 1954, Maxwell was killed in a fight by Harold Weinberg who was having an affair with Maxwell’s third wife, Ruth Fagan. Marie was the one who arranged Bodenheim’s funeral and had him buried at Cedar Park Cemetery, New Jersey. The date of her death is uncertain.
General information about Marie Bodenheim’s birth and address in New York can be found in the 1940 census on Ancestry.com. An account of Bodenheim’s arrest can be found in “Suffragists Say Police Hit Them” and “Six Suffragists Were Put Under Arrest,” New York Times, March 5, 1919. An additional source for her arrest and the Metropolitan Opera House arrest is The Story of the Woman’s Party by Inez Haynes Gillmore (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1921). Ross Wetzsteon, Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), p. 385 mentions that Minna Schein worked for the IWW. The Maxwell Bodenheim Papers, 1917-1981 at Columbia University include letters between Maxwell and Minna. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/9025181. Evidence that Maxwell and Marie moved to England can be found in Katherine Mansfield to Violet Schiff [16 July 1920] in The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield: Volume IV: 1920-1921 (pp. 20-21) accessed at https://books.google.com/books?id=WktGcM_UpH8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Collected+Letters+of+Katherine+Mansfield+1920-1921+England&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi--5Wj_5jMAhUGFz4KHQBfDTYQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=The%20Collected%20Letters%20of%20Katherine%20Mansfield%201920-1921%20England&f=false
General information about the marriage of Maxwell and Marie Bodenheim (referred to as “Minna Schien”) can be found on Mississippi Writers and Musicians.com at http://www.mswritersandmusicians.com/mississippi-writers/maxwell-bodenheim
General information about Maxwell Bodenheim’s death, funeral, and burial arrangements can be found in “Weinberg Held, Admits Murder of Bodenheim.” Troy (New York) Times, February 10, 1954.