Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margery “Madge” Montgomery, 1857-1940
By Whitney Baswell, Library Associate, Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, Mississippi and MLIS student, University of Southern Mississippi
Woman Suffrage Activist
Margery (Madge) Montgomery was born in Starkville, Mississippi, on June 2, 1857, to William Bell Montgomery and Julia Gillespie Montgomery. Madge's father was a Princeton College, New Jersey, graduate and a prominent farmer in the area; the family was very wealthy. She went to school at the Starkville Female Academy and then at Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia, but returned to Starkville afterwards. In 1902, she was appointed as a staff correspondent for the Meridian Daily Press, but she is better known for the various organizations in which she took part.
Montgomery spent her life heavily involved with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women's Suffrage Association. In 1889, she was the editor for the WCTU's publication The White Ribbon and recording secretary for the state chapter; and in 1897, she was elected corresponding secretary for the state convention. Montgomery was a delegate to the WCTU world conventions in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1910 and in Brooklyn, New York in 1913. Montgomery served as president of the WCTU state chapter in 1911, resigned in 1914 to resume the editor position for The White Ribbon, and was again elected president of the state chapter in 1917.
While serving in these various capacities with the WCTU, Montgomery also took on roles in other organizations. She became president of the Starkville Union, vice president of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, secretary of the Starkville Civic Association, and secretary of the Starkville and A&M College Civic League in 1910. That year she contributed two papers as part of a larger letter-writing effort organized by Mississippi suffragists. Over the next few years, she handled issues including women's suffrage, legal age of consent, prohibition, and efforts to improve the penal system. Montgomery was also an advocate for public decency legislation, signing petitions for the city council to censor postcards with offensive material and prohibiting types of dances in dance halls.
In her capacity with the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, Montgomery attended the state suffrage convention in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1915 and spent the next few years fostering support of the national amendment. In 1919, Montgomery became a member of the Mississippi Ratification Committee, and gathered signatures to pass the amendment. With her help, the first women in Oktibbeha County registered to vote in October 1920.
Montgomery's personal life focused on her various nieces and nephews. She accompanied them on trips out of town, and left her estate to them after her passing. She also left money for the leprosy mission and money for the Palmer Orphanage in Columbus, Mississippi. Montgomery died on January 25, 1940, and is buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Starkville, Mississippi.
“Announcements.”East Mississippi Times, May 20, 1910, p. 4. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065609/1910-05-20/ed-1/seq-4/
“Civic League.” The Starkville News, March 29, 1912, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1912-03-29/ed-1/seq-1/
“Dead.” The Starkville News, September 30, 1904, p. 4. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1904-09-30/ed-1/seq-4/
“Dr. Shaw in Greenville April 28.” The Starkville News, April 7, 1910, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1910-04-08/ed-1/seq-1/
East Mississippi Times, April 9, 1915, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065609/1915-04-09/ed-1/seq-1/
“Final Session of the Convention Will Be Held Here This Morning.” The Columbus Commercial, October 18, 1917, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065028/1917-10-18/ed-1/seq-1/
Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 08 April 2019), memorial page for Margery L. Montgomery (2 Jun 1857–25 Jan 1940), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12297589, citing Odd Fellows Cemetery, Starkville, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, USA ; Maintained by NatalieMaynor (contributor 46770385).
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 329. [LINK]
“Local and Personal.” East Mississippi Times, January 30, 1914, p. 3. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065609/1914-01-30/ed-1/seq-3/
“Local Snap Shots.” The Weekly Corinthian, May 13, 1902, p. 5. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065046/1902-05-13/ed-1/seq-5/
“Notice.” The Starkville News, March 24, 1911, p. 2. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1911-03-24/ed-1/seq-2/
“Over the State.” The Greenville Times, November 16, 1889, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85034374/1889-11-16/ed-1/seq-1/
“Scientific Temperance.” The Hattiesburg News, April 16, 1913, p. 3. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065167/1913-04-16/ed-1/seq-3/
“Services Set for Miss Montgomery.” Starkville Daily News, January 26, 1940,
Mississippi State University Special Collections, Starkville, Mississippi.
“Sixty-Six Oktibbeha Women Voters are Registered.” (1920, October 08). The Starkville
News, October 8, 1920, p. 12. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1920-10-08/ed-1/seq-12/
“Town News.” The Weekly Corinthian, May 8, 1897, p. 8. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065046/1897-05-08/ed-1/seq-8/
“W.C.T.U.” The Starkville News, July 21, 1911, p. 1. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1911-07-21/ed-1/seq-1/
“Women Want the Men to Endorse.” Greenwood Daily Commonwealth, December 18, 1919, p. 4. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065131/1919-12-18/ed-1/seq-4/