Biographical Sketch of Lillian H. Olzendam

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lillian H. Olzendam, 1868-1958

By Lexi Orlando, student, and Melanie Gustafson, professor, University of Vermont

Chair, Ratification Committee, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association

Lillian Herrick Marble was born on November 7, 1868 in Woodstock, Vermont, to Elizabeth Wilson Woodward Marble and Liberty Bates Marble, who ran a saw and grist mill. She studied music in Boston and was a teacher of music before her marriage in 1890 to Louis H. Olzendam, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. They soon moved to New York City. Louis's father owned the Olzendam Hosiery Company, a large textile mill in Manchester, New Hampshire, and for most of his life Louis worked for clothing manufacturers in New York. Lillian and Louis had two children, Roderic M. Olzendam and Therese E. Olzendam.

In July 1917, Olzendam moved back to Woodstock when she was hired as the National American Woman Suffrage Organizer (NAWSA) organizer for Vermont. Olzendam's task was to build support around the state for the constitutional amendment for woman suffrage and to maintain the presence of the NAWSA, which was concerned that suffrage supporters would shift their allegiance to the National Woman's Party. The Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA) was allied with the NAWSA and Olzendam was expected to work closely with its president, Maud (Mrs. A. L.) Bailey. Poor communication between Bailey and VESA board members about Olzendam's work led to complaints against Olzendam, which were addressed by Justina Wilson, the NAWSA Recording Secretary, who assured the VESA that the NAWSA was happy with Olzendam's work.

In March 1919, Olzendam became the VESA State Chairman of the Ratification Committee. The same month, she was a Vermont delegate at the NAWSA "Golden Jubilee" convention in St. Louis, where she spoke about the progress in Vermont. When she returned to Vermont, she traveled the state with Dr. Marion Horton, Marion Stone Pelley (Mrs. William Dudley Pelley), and Ann Batchelder to build support for ratification. In April 1920, Olzendam organized the "400 Green Mountain Girls" who lobbied the Governor to call a special session. He refused, even though the next month the state Republication convention passed resolution calling for him to do so.

When the NAWSA became the National League of Women Voters, Olzendam served for one year as the state chairman and then another as a director at large for the league. Olzendam was succeeded by Mrs. Frank Lowe of Montpelier.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Lillian Olzendam resided in New York City, where her daughter Therese worked for the J. Walter Advertising Agency. She died on July 22, 1958.

Sources:

Barre Daily Times (Barre, Vt.), March 13, 1919; February 2, 1921.

Evening Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, Vt.), June 13, 1919.

Brattleboro Daily Reformer (Brattleboro, Vt.), Sept. 23, 1920.

"Appealing to Connecticut," Woman Citizen, May 8, 1920, pp. 1222-23.

Ann Batchelder, "Green Mountain Girls," Woman Citizen, May 1, 1920, 1194 and 1205.

Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927, MSC 144-146, Leahy Library, Vermont History Center, Barre, Vermont.

Justina Leavitt Wilson, ed., Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, St. Louis Jubilee Convention, March 24-29, 1919 (New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association), pp. 302-03.

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