Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth Timson (Mrs. Orrin D.) Bartlett, 1870-?
By Alison Traweek, Lecturer in Greek and Roman Classics at Temple University
Elizabeth Timson Bartlett, daughter of John Wilson Timson and Sarah Timson, was born in New York City on September 29, around 1870. As was common in the period, there is a great deal of inconsistency in her biographical details, and official Census reports list her birth date variously as 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872. She lived most of her adult life in Arlington, a small neighborhood in Kearny, in Hudson County, New Jersey. John Timson was listed as a fire inspector in the 1880 Federal Census. She married Orrin Daniel Bartlett, son of Dr. Arthur Bartlett of Wyalusing, PA, on November 17, 1896. Orrin, listed as a salesman for a paper box manufacturer, was also well known as an accomplished photographer. Frances taught in a grammar school in New York City in 1899, though it is unclear when she started that position, and how long she stayed there. A Brooklyn Eagle article of 1924 suggests that she had not been teaching for some years. That article also provided a lengthy quote that gives some insight into her philosophy of teaching:
Twenty-five years ago as a teacher in one of the grammar schools of New York City it seemed to me cruel to try to interest foreign born children in our history of years past. Thinking the matter over it occurred to me to let the children talk of the things they knew and understood and then proceed to the known and relative unknown. This was the plan that was carried out as far as the rules and regulations would permit.
She was widowed in 1930. It is unclear whether or not she had children. Her date of death is unknown.
She was involved in a number of political and social clubs in her area. In 1906 she served as the Secretary of the Young People's Christian Union. She was made the historian of the New Jersey State Convention Federation of Labor in Bayonne in 1909, after the resignation of Emma L. Blackwell. At the 1910 New Jersey Equal Franchise League (NJEFL) State Convention in Plainfield, Mrs. Bartlett was appointed Chairman of one of the newly-created Committees on Church Work titled Industrial Problems relating to Women and Children. In January 1911, at a NJEFL luncheon, three suffrage associations agreed to unite to work for woman suffrage measures in the NJ legislature. It was reported that Mrs. Bartlett had “secured the favorable opinion of twelve New Jersey clergymen and had them printed for circulation. She is recorded as Acting President of the Arlington Civic Club in 1916.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920, pp. 416-19 [LINK]
“Idea of Teaching History Backwards Wins Approbation.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 16, 1924, p. 30.
Upton, Harriet Taylor, ed. Proceedings of the Forty-First Annual Convention of the >National American Woman Suffrage Association, (Washington, D.C.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1909), p. 87.
Winslow, Helen M. Official Registry and Directory of Women's Clubs, vol. XVIII, (Boston: Winslow, 1916).