Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Laura Webb-Peploe, 1860-1956
By Alicen Rollins, undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park
Laura Hammond Webb-Peploe was born May 5, 1860, to William and Roberta Hammond. Around 1888, she married John Harold Webb-Peploe, son of notable British preacher Hanmer William Webb-Peploe. They had two children: Hanmer, and Robert. John passed away in 1900, leaving Laura to raise their children on her own.
A descendant in the Hammond family, Laura Webb-Peploe served on the board of the Hammond-Harwood Historical House committee, which was built by her late ancestor Matthias Hammond and is located in Annapolis, MD. Laura Hammond had inhabited the home when she was a child, bringing her service to full circle. She also delivered an address on the history of the Hammond family in 1922, which has since been published into a book. This address was given at the Hammond Cemetery, which she worked to restore after years of neglect.
Laura Webb-Peploe was fiercely loyal not only to her family but also to the suffrage movement. She worked diligently in the offices of the Equal Suffrage League of Baltimore. Her obituary noted that she was both a lecturer and author and stated that she was a "popular speaker on civic events and patriotic celebrations." This is a role she was championed in, both as a speaker and as a host, holding speaking events in her home. On one such occasion, Mrs. William M. Ellicott, president of the Equal Suffrage League, was recorded as having given a talk in Webb-Peploe's home. Ellicott and Webb-Peploe crossed paths again, once the Twelfth Ward Equal Suffrage League headquarters was established in 1910. Webb-Peploe was Second Precinct Chairman of the organization at this time. Two years later, Webb-Peploe was noted as a speaker at the two-day annual meeting of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Baltimore, speaking on the importance of woman suffrage to the temperance movement.
Laura Webb-Peploe and her family would often show up in the society pages of the local newspapers. She was a member of many organizations. In addition to her time spent at the Equal Suffrage League, Webb-Peploe contributed to the Maryland Historical Society; the Women's Christian Temperance Union, where she served both as Recording Secretary and eventually President of the Baltimore City chapter; Daughters of the American Revolution; Founders and Patriots of America; and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Laura Webb Peploe passed away on January 19, 1956. She was buried in the Hammond Cemetery she helped to restore in Gambrills, Maryland. Her tombstone was inscribed with "She kept the faith." By all accounts, she certainly did.
Byatt, Marie. "Hammond, Laura H." Peplers and Peplows website. Last updated August 21, 2011. http://pepler.one-name.net/getperson.php?personID=I9352&tree=0001.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "Maryland." Chapter XIX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK]
"In and About Town: W. C. T. U. Enters Field." Baltimore Sun. Morning ed. December 12, 1914, p. 16. Newspapers.com.
"Rites for Mrs. Webb-Peploe, Author, Lecturer, Set Today." Baltimore Sun. January 22, 1956, p. 26. Newspapers.com.
"Suffrage Leaguers Active: Mrs. Ellicott Reviews Work of Women Since Queen Elizabeth." Baltimore Sun. Morning ed. January 14, 1910, p. 6. Newspapers.com.
"Temperance the Theme: Woman's Christian Union Discusses Suffrage and Peace." Baltimore Sun. Morning ed. May 30, 1912, p. 7. Newspapers.com.
Webb-Peploe, Laura. History of the Hammond Family: An Address Delivered by Mrs. Laura Webb-Peploe at Hammond Cemetery Gambrill's, MD. On Flag Day, June Fourteenth Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-Two. Classic reprint edition. London: Forgotten Books, 2018.
Reflecting upon Recovery:
By Ali Rollins#x200e
As a business major with an underlying passion for English and History, I initially approached our recovery process and assignment as a whole with great excitement. The way it was described during the first day of class seemed exhilarating - unearthing the lost history of various women who worked diligently for the suffrage movement, just as Alice Paul and her friends did. Just like I had to learn who Alice Paul was, eventually, I would learn my own suffragist as well. As we approached the start of the project, however, I had prior obligations, and ended up missing a week and a half of class, including our initial research session with Liz Novara. I mention this because I distinctly remember getting a message from a classmate, Hannah, telling me that this project was going to be hell, and she sarcastically wished me good luck. I was preoccupied with other things, however, and brushed off her message as merely an overreaction. It couldn't be too bad, could it?
The answer to that is both yes, and no. Upon returning to reality and College Park, I finally looked at who my assigned suffragist was - a Mrs. J.H. Webb Peploe. A few initial Google searches led me to a Mrs. Laura Hammond Webb Peploe. By and large, there wasn't much out there for my suffragist at first glance. I combed through the census (although now I realize that my methods for searching the census were incredibly haphazard), a few newspaper archives, and came up relatively empty handed. I was hesitant to nail this Laura Hammond person I had found to my target of Mrs. J.H. Webb Peploe. I eventually quit out of frustration and didn't think to start looking again until a week later.#x200e
Upon going back to the newspaper archives after speaking with Jess, I simplified my search - at first, I had been very strict about searching for just "J. H. Webb Peploe." By opening up (or narrowing) my search to simply "Webb Peploe," I found plenty of hits in the Baltimore Sun, as well as the Washington Post. It was here that I became certain that Laura Hammond was the Mrs. J.H. I had been looking for. One of the first documents I found was Laura's obituary - detailing her life as both a lecturer and author, as well as listing the numerous organizations she was a part of, in addition to giving me information on her lineage and descendants. This obituary was a goldmine, as I had been struggling to find anything about Laura on Google outside of a few repeated documents and listings. By going through the many articles I found, I learned more and more about Laura. I discovered that she was a published author, for the speech that she gave on the history of her maiden family, the Hammonds. It was also apparent that Laura was a fierce suffragist and activist, through her activities in multiple organizations. Laura was also quite the socialite, as her affairs (and often the affairs of her two sons) often made the paper. The most exciting find for me, and simultaneously my biggest regret, was discovering that her ancestor's home, the Hammond-Harwood Historical House, still stands in Annapolis. Laura herself even served on the board of committees associated with the home for a period of time. While I unfortunately did not have enough time to dive further into the history of Laura's maiden family, knowing that this is a resource that exists is invaluable for any future research I or anyone else may do on Laura. I hope to reach out to them in the future to see what they know about Laura and her family, if anything at all.
My largest take away from this entire project is to reexamine my research methods. I am a product of my generation - raised on the internet at a young age, used to having most of the information I need at my fingertips. While I may still comb through the stacks and dusty books from time to time, my first instinct is to open a new tab, and Google whatever I need, with usual instant gratification. These methods are bearable if working on a paper, or for satisfying general curiosity. They do not work as successfully, however, for researching women who were nothing more than a list of names on a page. In her article "Googling the Archive: Digital Tools and the Practice of History," Janine Solberg explores the idea of how prevalent technology has made research, the instant gratification of finding a lead, and subsequent frustration when there are almost no results on your subject. Solberg explains that recovery projects, like the ones our class has done, are boosted by the growth of online resources, as it is easier to pin down day-to-day events of any subject, humanizing them as well as creating a more realistic portrayal (60). As I mentioned before, Laura and her family appeared frequently in the "society" section of the local newspapers. These appearances not only helped to humanize Laura to me, but also gave me a better idea of what her usual activities and life might have been like. Solberg also explains how Google and other search engines filter and craft an individual's search results, shedding light on my poor research techniques, and teaching me how to search more successfully. #x200e
Overall, despite getting a late start, this recovery project proved to be very fulfilling. I think our class performed important work, and I imagine it almost like "raising the dead." By finding these women's histories and bringing them back to life, we're not only educating ourselves about these "silent sentinels." We can share the wealth with the entire world about what these brave, smart, and courageous women did for society, and preserve their stories and legacies for generations to come.
Essay Works Cited
Solberg, Janine. "Googling the Archive: Digital Tools and the Practice of History." Advances in the History of Rhetoric 15, no. 1 (2012): 53-76.