Biographical Sketch of Pauline Clarke Gilbert


Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Pauline Clarke Gilbert, 1887-1968

By Allyssa Hoerz, undergraduate student, SUNY Oneonta

Pauline Clarke was born in New York state on September 8, 1887. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, the first women's college to allow students the opportunity to acquire a Ph.D. During her senior year, Clarke served as president of the chapter of the National College Equal Suffrage League (NCESL). The purpose of NCESL was to recruit college-educated women to the suffrage cause. Pauline Clarke also co-edited and reported for the National Woman's Party's The Suffragist from March 1917 to February 1918.

Active in the National Woman's Party from 1916 to 1920, the first time Clarke was arrested for marching to the White House fences and unfurling suffragist banners alongside other suffragists at the White House was June 26, 1917. The women were charged with obstructing traffic and were released on personal bonds. During Clarke's trial, she said, "No lawyer defended the women, but they spoke in their own behalf, defending themselves on the ground of the constitutional right of free assemblage and appealed to the government for redress of grievances." Clarke was one of twelve women arrested for protesting across from the White House on August 6, 1918 in Lafayette Park. They were charged with obstruction of traffic, Clarke was only 28 years old at the time.

Clarke married Clinton Gilbert, a journalist, of Washington, D.C. and they lived at 122 Connecticut Avenue. Their daughter, Phyllis, was born October 12, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. In 1930 the couple lived with their daughter and one servant in Washington, DC. Clinton died in the next decade, leaving Pauline as the head of the household in DC in 1940. In that year she worked at an administrative occupation earning $4,600 annually. Her 15-year-old daughter Phyllis was a high school student and the family had one live-in Black servant. Pauline passed away at 81 years of age on July 15, 1968.


"Arrest Suffragists Who Unfurl Banners," Chronicling America,;

"Arrest Twelve Suffs," Chronicling America.;

"Bryn Mawr on the Picket Line," Bryn Mawr,;

Family Search,

Federal Manuscript Censuses of Washington, DC, 1930 and 1940, household of Pauline Gilbert. Accessed online at Ancestry Library Edition.

Pauline Clarke, from "Bryn Mawr on The Picket Line," Bryn Mawr, (accessed February 8, 2017).

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