By Jamie Dahl, undergraduate, SUNY Oneonta
Mary Duty Spencer was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from Vassar College in 1896 with a B.A., then completed an M.A. in History, English, and Latin. Mary also attended the University of Michigan, working under the Administrative Council of the Graduate School during 1898-99. She wrote for magazines and journals, and published short stories in newspapers.
She married the lawyer Ulysses Grant Blackford in November of 1903 in Detroit. They moved to New York, where they lived at 342 West 85th Street. They had two daughters, Mary Spencer, born in 1904, and Virginia Pancost, born in 1907.
She held a position as a staff member of the National Woman’s Party and apparently picketed the White House.
She also supported the Charles Evans Hughes Campaign in 1916. She sold Liberty Loans, worked as publishing chair of the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense, and joined the Home Economics Committee during World War I.
Calendar of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan, 1899: 357; The Fourth General Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York: A.V. Haight, 1910): 148; The Fifth General Catalogue of the Officers and Alumnae of Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York: Vassar College, 1920): 67. Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester, New York], Nov. 26, 1903, (accessed April 15, 2016); The S.C.A. Bulletin (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Students’ Christian Association, University of Michigan, 1897); “Dolls to Aid Hughes Fight,” New York Times, August 25, 1916, 4.