Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Maud Bassett Gorham, 1877-1971

By Christina Larocco, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Gorham, Maud Bassett (1877-1971) was the daughter of George Congdon Gordon and Effie E. Bassett. Her father was a prominent California journalist and politician, serving as editor for several newspapers. His career in politics and public service included positions as clerk for the United States Circuit Court of California (1863-67), Republican candidate for governor of California (1867), secretary of the US Senate (1868-79), and California representative to the Republican National Committee (1868-1880). Maud Bassett Gorham received her AB (1902), AM (1906) and PhD (1910) from Radcliffe College, where her dissertation won the Caroline I. Wilby prize. In 1910-11 she was an instructor in English composition at Wellesley College. She moved to Pennsylvania that year to take a position as instructor of English at Swarthmore College, where she would remain until 1919. While there, she served as president of the Pennsylvania College Equal Suffrage League and as vice president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, and she was a frequent speaker for the suffrage cause. At a meeting of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association in 1914, she engaged in a public debate with Alice Paul over the future of the suffrage. While Gorham supported a federal suffrage amendment, she believed that activists should focus on gaining power in the states before pursuing this goal. She also opposed singling out any political party for attack. After leaving Swarthmore, Gorham taught for the Federal Board for Vocational Training of Disabled Servicemen at Temple University. Maud Bassett Gorham died in Cambridge, MA, in 1971, at the age of ninety-four.


Information about Gorham can be found in the Swarthmore College Digital Collections; the Radcliffe College student files, 1890-1985, Radcliffe College Archives, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study, Harvard University; and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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