Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mariana W. Chapman, 1843 - 1907
By Daisy McNairy, The New Historia
Mariana W. Chapman (née Mariana W. Wright) was born in New York City on March 14, 1843 to Dr. Aaron Wright and Mary Willets Wright of Ohio and New York, respectively. The Wrights were members of the Society of Friends. Growing up, Chapman attended the Friends Institute in New York City (later called Friends Seminary) until 1857 when her family moved to Springboro, Ohio. In Ohio, Chapman attended Antioch College for two years. In 1864, Chapman married Noah H. Chapman of Cincinnati, OH with whom she would have five children (three sons and two daughters). Noah Chapman had been born in 1836 in Cincinnati to Joseph B. Chapman and Charlotte Haines Chapman. He worked in the dry goods business. Also a member of the Society of Friends, Noah and Mariana married under the guidance of the Springboro Monthly Meeting. In 1880, Chapman and her family moved back East and settled in Brooklyn, NY. There, Noah became a member of the commission merchants' firm, Field, Chapman & Co. and eventually would became an Elder of the New York Monthly meeting.
As her children got older, Chapman became more active in the Society of Friends, engaging in social and philanthropic work. In 1884, Chapman attended her first women's suffrage convention held by the Woman Suffrage Association of Brooklyn. At the time, Lucy Stone was president. Shortly after, Chapman became a member of the association and went on to become president herself. Later, from 1897 to 1902, Chapman was president of the New York State Woman's Suffrage Association. Throughout her time leading these organizations, Chapman was frequently in contact with other well-known activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman-Catt. Of her abilities, it is said that Chapman "was unusually effective. Her mind was clear and logical, her thought candid, her toleration for opposing opinions courteous, conciliatory and sincere, and to an intellect of much strength she added a charm of appearance, a dignity of manner and an absolute superiority to self-consciousness, both rare and admirable" (Friends' Intelligencer).
In addition to her work on women's suffrage, Chapman was a member of the Women's Auxiliary of the Civil Service Reform Commission, and a charter member of the New York League for Political Education. Chapman was key in founding the Friends Equal Rights Association and served on several boards of trustees for Quaker schools. Of the resistance to educating women, Chapman said "it will pass away because it is the old and vain attempt to sweep back the waves of the Atlantic with a broom" ("Equal Rights of Women"). Education, prison reform and women's suffrage were of particular interest to Chapman. Time and time again, monthly and yearly Friends meetings served as a platform for Chapman to speak on these issues. Chapman passed away on November 9, 1907 in her home in Port Washington, N.Y. after a long illness.
An Inventory of the Family Papers of Mariana Wright Chapman, 1808 - 1983. Friends Historical Library of Swathmore College. <http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/friends/ead/5260mwch.xml> July 25, 2017.
Selections from the Mariana Wright Chapman Family Papers. Friends Historical Library of Swathmore College. <http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/friends/ead/MWC/MWCselections1.htm> July 25, 2017.
"Mariana Wright Chapman." Friends' Intelligencer, February 24, 1907, 788-89. <https://books.google.com/books?id=f58sAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA788&lpg=PA788&dq=antioch+college+mariana+w.+chapman&source=bl&ots=wtvw7dSWuy&sig=7qjHchbxq-xwR5dm2rSkP3Y5_dk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjfuMaf15DVAhUCRz4KHX-fAR8Q6AEILjAC#v=onepage&q=antioch%20college%20mariana%20w.%20chapman&f=false> July 25, 2017.
Chapman, Mariana, "Equal Rights of Women," Friends' Conference, Asbury Park, 1902,127-31. <https://books.google.com/books?id=y8sYAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=mariana+w.+chapman&source=bl&ots=9DUetx5gq7&sig=96sDDLx0qDpR1T54M3kneF5Rhr8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwin2KS1zJDVAhVCez4KHfxyAl8Q6AEIVDAN#v=onepage&q=mariana%20w.%20chapman&f=false> July 25, 2017.