Biographical Database of NWP Militant Suffragists, 1913-1920

Biography of Helen (Mrs. Townsend) Scott, 1865-?

By John Bello, Gallery Educator, i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa, Arizona

Helen Townsend Scott was born around 1865 in Baltimore, Maryland to Samuel Kirk and Martha Kirk. Her father was born in DC or Maryland, and her mother was born in Maryland. She had three siblings, William Kirk, Charles Kirk, and Jane Cole. Her father was a Bell Hanger, and her mother stayed at home. Helen graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In 1885, Helen married Townsend Scott who was born in 1860; he was a banker in 1900 and a stockbroker in 1920. She had three children, Helen T, Gwinn / Gwendolyn, and Townsend Jr. All her children attended school.

Helen was the chair of the Congressional Union (CU) for Women's Suffrage for Maryland. The CU was established in April 1913 to raise money for the cause; in early 1914, the CU (later the National Woman’s Party or NWP) became a rival national suffrage group to the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). As the chair for the CU and NWP in Maryland, Helen championed the passage of a constitutional amendment for woman suffrage throughout the state.

In 1916, Helen Scott took part in the CU's Suffragist Special trip via the railroad. The activists on the Suffragist Special traveled around western states encouraging those women who already held voting rights to gather in Chicago to launch the National Woman’s Party. In December 1916, Scott joined other CU and NWP members in the gallery of the U.S. House to unfurl a banner proclaiming, “Mr. President, What will you do for Woman Suffrage?” during a presidential address. The CU and NWP merged in 1917. On June 25, 1917, Helen Scott became one of the first NWP suffragists arrested for picketing the White House; her group was ultimately released without being charged.

In 1930 Helen Scott was widowed, and had a lodger in the home, Alice M Archer, Helen had no occupation but owned her home worth $35,000. Helen passed away in Baltimore in the 1940s. She played an active part in the national fight for women to obtain the right to vote.


"Yearly Summaries for Series I" in Haggerty, Donald L. (ed). National Woman's Party Papers: The Suffrage Years, 1913-1920, A Guide to the Microfilm Edition (Sanford, N.C.: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1981) 14-16. Accessed 9/29/2018,

The Library of Congress, American Memory--Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party Accessed 9/29/2018,

The story of the Woman's Party by Gillmore, Inez Haynes, 1873-1970, Cornell University Press, Accessed 9/29/2018,

Lindseth Collection Of American Woman Suffrage,[ca. 1820-1920]. Accessed 9/29/2018,

Speaker for Suffrage and Petitioner for Peace by Mabel Vernon Online Archive of California, Accessed 9/29/2018

United States. Federal Census Data. Population Schedules 1880, 1900, 1920, 1930.,,,,,

Bryn Mawr College Calendar: Register of Alumnæ and Former Students
By Bryn Mawr College, Accessed 9/29/2018,

The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 6, ed. by Ida Husted Harper, 1922, [LINK]

Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. Mass meeting Belasco theatre Sunday, December 12 3:30 P. M. [Washingyon, D. C. 1915]. Congressional union for woman suffrage.

“The 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade,” by Alan Taylor, March 1, 2013, Accessed 9/29/2018 at

Library of Congress, “Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party,” Accessed 9/29/2018

Photo, “Arrival of the ‘Flying Squadron' at Colorado Springs, Colo[rado]. ‘Suffrage Special,'" 1916, Accessed 9/29/2018

Samantha Mayes, Hannah Dinielli, Paige Peacock, and McKenna Donahue, “Chapter 3: World War I, Jails, and Hunger Strikes , In The National Woman's Party: A Year by Year History 1913-1922,” online at

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