Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Bertha Dell, 1894-?
By Linda Halouva, undergraduate student, State University of New York at Oneonta
Berta-Marie Gage, the daughter of Stella McClelland and Charles M. Gage, was born on April 18, 1894 in Lakewood, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1915. She married the prolific author, editor, and social critic Floyd Dell in 1919. The couple had two sons, Anthony and Christopher. Floyd called his wife "B. Marie."
While very little is known about her life, Bertha Dell attended a National Woman's Party protest in New York City in March 1919. Police arrested six of the women at that demonstration. Bertha Dell had her own problems when a man in dressed in overalls wrestled with her to take from her the banner she carried. Her husband, Floyd Dell came over to help but he was "handled roughly," and other women had to intercede. According to the New York Tribune (March 5, 1919) report, the women "formed a flying football wedge and rescued Dell, but in the struggle Miss [Doris] Stevens was hit over the head with a banner pole."
Most of what is known of B. Marie Dell comes to us from what her husband wrote in his autobiography Homecoming (1933). Despite dour predictions, the couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in February 1969.
"Six Anti-Wilson Suffragists Are Arrested Here," New York Tribune, March 5, 1919, 4; "Suffragists Clash with Police in N.Y.," Reno Gazette-Journal [Nevada] March 5, 1919, 1; "Six Suffragists Arrested," Indianapolis News [Indianapolis], March 5, 1919, 3; "People You Know," Lincoln Journal Star [Nebraska], March 7, 1919, 14. See also Floyd Dell, Homecoming (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1933). There is some information about Bertha Dell in the Floyd Dell's papers at the Newberry https://mms.newberry.org/xml/xml_files/Dell.xml.
A photograph of Bertha Dell should also be available at the Newberry Library, Chicago, in Floyd Dell's papers:
Series 5: Photographs, ca. 1890-1952, Box 28, folder 831 "Family - Dell, B. Marie and others, 1919-ca. 1927"
There is also a yearbook photograph of her, as Berte Marie Gage, dated 1915: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1265/40392_B076105-00510?pid=245898397&backurl=https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db%3DYearbooksIndex%26h%3D245898397%26indiv%3Dtry%26o_vc%3DRecord:OtherRecord%26rhSource%3D60901&treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true#?imageId=40392_B076105-00509