Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret Lewis Morgan Norrie, 1869 – 1927
By Sandra L. Campbell, independent researcher
Chairman, 10th campaign district, Staatsburg, Empire State Campaign
Margaret Lewis Morgan was born September 3, 1869 in Staatsburg, Dutchess County, New York to William Dare Morgan (1838-1887) of New London, Connecticut and Angelica Livingston Hoyt (1847-1933) of Staatsburg. The Livingston family tree is traced back to Major General Morgan Lewis, the third Governor of New York State (1804-1807) through Margaret's great-great-grandmother, Margaret Lewis, who was the only daughter of Governor Lewis and his wife, Gertrude Livingston (daughter of Judge Robert Livingston).
Margaret is the granddaughter of the late Mrs. Lydig (Blanche G. Livingston) Hoyt and cousin of Mrs. Ogden Mills. Of note, The Hoyt family can be traced back to Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Blanche Hoyt's daughter and Margaret's great aunt, Angelica L. Hamilton, married Alexander Hamilton, Jr, the grandson of Alexander Hamilton.
Margaret was the eldest of the four Morgan children. Her sister, Ruth Morgan (1870-1934), was chosen as chairman of Mayor Mitchell's Co-operative Committee of Women on Defense in 1917, was president of the Colony Club, and first Vice President of the League of Women Voters. Her sister, Geraldine Livingston Morgan (1872-1967) married Lewis S. Thompson. The Thompsons gave lands for the Lewis Gordon Norrie Playground in 1924. Mrs. Thompson was instrumental in establishing lands for the Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park in 1934. She was also active in politics. Margaret's youngest sibling was a brother, William Dare ‘Gerald' Morgan (1879-1948).
Margaret married Adam Gordon Norrie on June 15, 1897 at the age of 28. Adam Gordon Norrie graduated from Columbia in 1891 and had a career as a wealthy banker. Adam and Margaret had one son, Lewis Gordon Norrie, who died at the age of 22 in 1923. Lewis was attending Princeton when he was involved in a car crash in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Adam and Margaret first resided in the home of her mother at 26 Washington Square, a four-story dwelling that was built in 1900 and is still extant. It is across from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. The 1915 New York State census shows Margaret residing with the Morgan family at 26 Waverly Place. By 1920, the New York State census shows Adam, Margaret, and their son, Lewis, residing with the Morgan family there. In 1925, when the couple was in their mid-50s, Margaret and Adam are residing on the Morgan Estate, village of Staatsburg, Town of Hyde Park. The Norries enjoyed frequent summer vacations in Newport, Rhode Island.
Margaret and her sister, Ruth, were among the members of one of the most exclusive private organizations for women founded in 1903 - the Colony Club. With Ruth Morgan as president of the Club, Rosalie Edge, noted conservationist, and Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D., were invited to join this exclusive society when a call for younger members went out. Margaret worked alongside Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in various organizations and was friends with Frances Perkins, President Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor.
Stated succinctly by Poughkeepsie resident, Mary Flad, even though Margaret Norrie could have followed a "life of wealth and glamour," she "became engrossed in the needs of the world around her, and allied herself with a variety of crusaders."
In 1913, Margaret was appointed 10th campaign district chairman of the Empire State Campaign Committee. She was a friend of Carrie Chapman Catt and often accompanied her on her campaigns. The counties in the 10th campaign district included her home county of Dutchess, as well as Putnam, Columbia, Ulster and Greene. A newspaper article in the Empire State Campaign Committee Edition of the Geneva Daily Times explains how the state was organized for the suffrage campaign. Mrs. Norrie's photo is included in this article.
One can find numerous articles regarding Mrs. Norrie's suffrage work, and many more after enfranchisement was gained. To summarize Margaret Norrie's activism in a short biographical sketch would be a challenge, as she was involved in 28 organizations. (Poughkeepsie Eagle News, 12/20/1927). She was a leader in the fight for woman suffrage and had a passion for politics. In her role as chairman of the Tenth Campaign District, she was often the chief speaker or presided over various meetings. The address she gave at the opening of the new headquarters of the local Suffrage party on the second floor of the Hinkley Building in Poughkeepsie is printed in full in the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News, Feb 26, 1916 issue.
In 1919, Margaret Norrie and Laura Johnson Wylie, notable English professor at Vassar College, reorganized the Women's City Club for suffrage and community-related issues. They renamed it the Women's City and County Club whose purpose was to "enlist women in the cause of good government." Clubs like this were to help women obtain and practice their full rights. The club was associated with the New York State League of Women Voters and the State Federation of Women's Clubs. Margaret served as president of the organization for 6 years, after which Laura Wylie served in this capacity. Eleanor Roosevelt served on the Board of Directors in the 1920s.
In 1924, Margaret was elected a regional director for the League of Women Voters, the 10th region.
In February 1927, Margaret was active in New York City regarding the issue of regulating light and power. With Arthur Hays as Chairman, she was appointed secretary of a non-partisan citizens committee in this effort.
On August 15, 1927, Margaret Norrie's life was cut short at the age of 57. She died at her home on 153 East 61st Street, New York, of an "illness." She is buried in the ornate family tomb at St. James Cemetery, alongside her son, Lewis Gordon Norrie (1901-1923). Her husband died just ten days later, on August 25, 1927, presumably due to severe strain he had experienced during his wife's illness.
In a Resolution composed by members of the Board of Directors of the Women's City and County Club of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County, one of whom was Eleanor Roosevelt, it is noted that Mrs. Norrie formed the organization, which was one of the earliest and largest women's civic clubs in the state. She had many fine qualities-- courage, sympathy, energy, and understanding. It is stated that her strongest conviction was "the belief that the great society, like the well-governed state, rests ultimately on the intelligence, capacity, and cooperation of all citizens."
Much regret was expressed at Margaret Norrie's passing by the many organizations she was affiliated with. On October 3, 1927, a special meeting of the Women's City and County Club as well as other woman's organizations of the city and county honored her memory. Speakers included Miss Laura J. Wylie, president of the Club, Mrs. Richard Aldrich who did woman suffrage work with Mrs. Norrie, Mrs. Mary Simkovitch of Greenwich House (a settlement house in New York City), and Mrs. Samuel Bens of New York who did work with Mrs. Norrie on the New York State Committee for Law Enforcement. Other organizations represented at the meeting were: the Dutchess County Health Association, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Dutchess County League of Women Voters, and the Neighborhood Club.
Another memorial meeting was held on Monday, December 19, 1927 for Mrs. Norrie. The meeting was held at the YWCA building, 600 Lexington Avenue, in New York. Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and Oswald Garrison Villard addressed the nearly 300 in attendance.
The Norrie Fellowship was established at Vassar College in Margaret's memory, which permitted women to earn a master's degree at the college. Their work was baseline social research on Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County. This research was published in 1937 as County at Large by Martha Collins Bayne.
Margaret Norrie is one of hundreds of women who served the woman suffrage and social movements in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County. Her passion and dedication to the causes she was involved in are inspirational and her contributions should not be forgotten.
NOTE: The following photograph was provided to this researcher by Mr. Al Vinck and Ms. Linda Bouchey, Independent Roosevelt Researchers from Hyde Park, New York. They indicated Mrs. Norrie is the woman standing next to the man in the light suit holding his coat and hat (in the middle of the group – 3rd from left or right. (They could not provide a reference or additional information regarding the subjects in the photo at this time.)
Margaret Norrie is the woman standing next to the man in the light suit holding his coat and hat (in the middle of the group – 3rd from left or right.
(A. Gordon) Norrie left estate valued at $1,000,000. (1927, October 18). Star-Gazette. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14586701/norrie_adam_gordon_left_estate_valued/
Association, N. A. W. S. (1917). Leaflet : Suggestions for election district captains. . Retrieved from http://lewissuffragecollection.omeka.net/items/show/1618
Boice, E. C. (2004). Woman Suffrage, Vassar College, and Laura Johnson Wylie. Hudson River Valley Review, 20(2), 36–49.
Campbell, S. (n.d.). Margaret Lewis Morgan Family Tree. Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/112820351/person/310123068317/facts
Cooper, L., & Otis, M. P. (2013, April 17). Mills & Norrie State Parks and Staatsburgh State Historic Site Master Plan: Executive Summary. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Retrieved from https://parks.ny.gov/inside-our-agency/documents/MasterPlans/MillsNorrieStaatsburghStateHistoricSite/MillsNorrieStaatsburghStateMasterPlan.pdf
Downey, K. (2009). The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=WTbeNKYzg1EC&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=margaret+norrie,+26+washington+square&source=bl&ots=tPmjNlbOWr&sig=Rr5w4XrJ9z_C4dLMTFcvf_s4xMU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIjYvakanXAhVB6iYKHek3BtoQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=margaret%20norrie%2C%2026%20washington%20square&f=false
Dutchess County. (1937). William Penn Association of Philadelphia.
Flad, M. (1999, November 14). Valley women a force in change. Poughkeepsie Journal, p. 7.
Furmansky, D. Z. (2009). Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists. University of Georgia Press.
Many Attend Suffrage Party - Celebrate Opening of New Quarters in Hinkley Building - Strong Address by Mrs. Gordon Norrie. (1916, February 26). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/12526363/norrie_hinkley_bldg_address_pg_2/
Margaret Lewis Morgan Norrie (1869 - 1927). (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2017, from https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=norrie&GSfn=margaret&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=18151460&df=all&
Margaret Norrie Estate is Large. (1927, November 7). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14586447/norrie_estate_is_large_will_filed/
Maturin Livingston. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maturin_Livingston
Memorial Service Planned Tonight - City and County Club Honros Memory of Mrs. Gordon Norrie, Late Leader. (1927, October 3). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14586834/
Miss Ruth Morgan Made Chairman. (1917, April 20). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News, p. 6.
Miss Wylie Again Chosen Chairman by Club Women. (1927, May 24). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14586545/norrie_womens_city_and_county_club/
Morgan Lewis (Governor). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_Lewis_(governor)
New York, State Census. (1925). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2704/32849_b094313-00011/15604875?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/112820351/person/310123068317/facts/citation/920327278960/edit/record
New York State Woman Suffrage Party: Organizational Outline Card. (1914, ca). Retrieved from https://newcatalog.library.cornell.edu/catalog/6946291
Nine Local Women Attend Norrie Rites. (1927, December 20). Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14586975/norrie_nine_local_women_attend_norrie/
Norrie-Morgan Wedding. (1897, June 16). The New York Times, p. 7.
Pedigree View - Ancestry.com. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2017, from https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/112820351/family/pedigree
Program: Votes for Women: 46th Annual Convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association and General Conference of New York State Suffragists. (1914, ca). Retrieved from https://newcatalog.library.cornell.edu/catalog/6946291
United States Federal Census. (1910). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7884/4449995_00120/120141865?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/112820351/person/310123068317/facts/citation/920327284570/edit/record
United States Federal Census. (1920). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6061/4313925-00963/41839608?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/112820351/person/310123068317/facts/citation/920327275885/edit/record