Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Clara Turnbull Waite, 1874-1925

By Kathy White, retired librarian, Frederick, MD.

Woman Suffrage Activist

Clara Turnbull Waite was a lifelong resident of Baltimore, born in November 1874. She was the daughter of Samuel Richard Waite (1843-1912), a prosperous businessman, and lived with her family on Eutaw Place.

Waite was active in the art community of the city, having exhibited at both the Baltimore Water Color Club and the Charcoal Club. She was one of the early members of the Arundell Club, a woman's organization that included civic interests in its agenda. She was also legislative chairman of the Fourteenth Ward.

In 1913 Waite traveled to England and Scotland to observe activities of suffragettes there. Upon her return, she wrote the article, "An Anti-Militant Suffragette Goes to England and Scotland and Learns Many Things" for the Baltimore Sun newspaper, in which she emphasized the importance of fighting for women's rights by "peaceful and constitutional methods." She felt that militancy jeopardized the success of the movement because it made the women look irresponsible.

Waite served as vice president of the Equal Suffrage League of Baltimore in 1919, one of several NAWSA-affiliated societies in Maryland. The group attempted several times to initiate suffrage amendments, both in Baltimore and in the state legislature, although these were unsuccessful. It also participated in the effort to get Maryland to ratify the nineteenth amendment in 1919 and 1920. Maryland refused to ratify the nineteenth amendment until 1941.

Clara Waite died on December 21, 1925, in Baltimore, and was buried at Green Mount Cemetery near her father.


Baltimore Sun, October 12, 1913, p. M3. "An Anti-Militant Suffragette Goes to England and Scotland and Learns Many Things."

Baltimore Sun, December 24, 1925, p. 5 (obituary). (Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore).

Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 262. [LINK]

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