By Julia Vogt, undergraduate student, Simmons College
and Laura R. Prieto, faculty, Simmons College
Clara Winifred Ware was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1878, the daughter of merchant George W. Ware (d. 1885) and Livonia Coffin Ames. She had three siblings. Her widowed mother took in boarders and earned money as a companion to young American women touring Europe. Clara was also close to her maternal aunt, Lucia Ames Mead, a peace activist. Clara graduated from college and moved to Philadelphia with her sister, Mary Ware (Dennett), while Mary taught decorative art at Drexel. Clara enjoyed the lively arts community in the city as she designed posters for contests and attended costume parties. In 1897, Clara traveled to Europe with Mary to study art further. There, the sisters became interested in lost arts. Mary learned, and then taught Clara, to craft guadamaciles, a type of stamped, embossed, gilded Cordovan leather wall hanging from the 11th century. They collected guadamaciles in Spain and Italy and upon their return in 1898 established a cooperative handicrafts shop together in Boston. Clara became a leather worker in conjunction with the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts.
In 1900, Clara married George Quimby Hill, a brass goods manufacturer from Portland, Maine. The couple had at least five children together: Elizabeth (b. 1901), Preston Ware (b. 1903), George Quinby (b. 1906), Edwin Mead (b. 1908), and Hollis Boardman (1912-1935). Edwin Mead Hill died of ulcerative endocarditis on February 24, 1917, at age 8. Clara also cared for her nephews, Mary's sons Carleton and Devon, after Mary accepted a position in the New York City branch of NAWSA. She lived in Holliston and Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, during this part of her life.
It is not certain when Clara Ware Hill herself first became involved with the suffrage movement but perhaps joined the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association with (or through) her sister Mary, who had leadership positions in MWSA and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was later active in suffrage circles in New Hampshire, her mother's home state. In 1919, she participated in the NWP's suffrage protest on Boston Common. She was arrested and sentenced to eight or ten days in the Charles Street jail, where she undertook hunger strikes with several other suffragists. She ended up serving less than 5 days of the sentence, however. An anonymous man paid the suffragists' fines and the women were released early against their will. The National Woman's Party subsequently awarded Clara the "Prison Pin," an honor bestowed upon 166 suffragists who suffered jail time in the fight for the vote.
As of 1920, Clara Ware Hill was living in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband George, by then president of a metal company, as well as her mother and children. She and her mother became involved in the Medical Liberty League, with Grace Henshaw and Jessica Henderson, (fellow alumnae of the Boston Common suffrage demonstration). The association challenged compulsory vaccination and demanded more information from physicians about the process of inoculation.
Clara and her husband ran a shop selling crafts in Beverly Hills, California, in the early 1920s. In 1925, George's manufacturing company filed for bankruptcy. He and Clara evidently separated by 1930. George remained in California with their son Preston's family; Clara returned to Massachusetts, living for a while with their daughter Elizabeth's family in Cambridge. Clara supported herself by teaching retailing in the Boston public schools for some twenty years and she supported the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She was widowed in 1941 and lived in Brookline, Massachusetts when she died on November 8, 1947.
Clara Ware Hill should not be confused with her fellow suffrage activist, the better known Miss Clara M. Hill of Connecticut.
"Arrest of 22 Suffragists." Boston Daily Globe, 24 Feb. 1919: 1-2.
"Bankruptcy Petition by George Q. Hill Company." Boston Daily Globe, 2 April 1925: A20.
"Boston Suffrage Prisoners Released." The Suffragist 7:11 (1919): 13.
Boston Symphony Orchestra. Sixty-Fifth Season Concert Bulletin. 1945-1946.
Buxton, Willis G., comp. History Boscawen-Webster: Fifty Years, 1883-1933. W. B. Rumney Co., Penacook, NH, 1933.
Chen, Constance. The Sex Side of Life: Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education. New York: The New Press, 1996.
"Clara W. Ware." Accessed online at: http://www.familyrecord.net/getperson.php?personID=I81999&tree=CorlissOrdway
"Decorated for Service." The Suffragist 8 (Sept. 1920): 209.
Dennett, Mary Ware. Papers of Mary Ware Dennett. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lederer, Lynn. "'The Dynamic Side of Life:' The Emergence of Mary Ware Dennett as a Radical Sex Educator." Doctoral Dissertation. Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.. 2011.
"Mrs. Clara W. Hill." Daily Boston Globe, 10 November 1947: 15.
Stevens, Doris. Jailed for Freedom. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920.
"The New Women's Party Plan--Trail the Administration." The Suffragist 5 (1917): 8.
"Throws Challenge to Every Physician." Cambridge Chronicle, 29 January 1921.
United States Census Bureau. United States Census, Brookline, Massachusetts.1920.
United States Census Bureau. United States Census, Holliston, Middlesex County Massachusetts, 1910.