Biographical Sketch of Marie T. Lockwood

Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920

Biography of Marie T. Lockwood, 1872-1956


By Janet Lindenmuth, Reference/Electronic Services Librarian, Delaware Law School, Widener University.

Edited by Anne M. Boylan, University of Delaware

Marie T. Lockwood was born February 28, 1872. Her father, George W. Lockwood, owned Fair Oaks, a prosperous farm near Warwick, Maryland, where he raised peaches and sheep. Marie was born there and lived in Warwick until George Lockwood died in 1902. After his death, Marie, her mother Adelaide Morton Lockwood, and five younger siblings left the farm, moving just across the state line to the town of Middletown, Delaware, where she lived the rest of her life.

Lockwood had a long and successful career as a public health nurse. She was educated in Philadelphia, attending nursing school at the Philadelphia Orthopaedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases and studying social work at the Pennsylvania School for Social Services. Lockwood eventually held several high ranking positions in the public health field in Delaware. She was the founder and supervisor of the Wilmington Visiting Nurses Association. She was the Supervisor of Public Health Nurses and the Child Welfare Association for the Delaware State Health Commission until 1926 when she was forced to retire, in what seems to have been a political dispute. The state had hired a new director of the State Health Commission, Dr. Arthur T. Davis, who wanted to consolidate all public health functions in Delaware under the Health Commission, while Lockwood felt this should be left to the counties. Lockwood felt Davis gradually undermined her, removing her from the Child Welfare Association and cutting her salary until she was forced to retire.

Lockwood's suffrage work began in 1916 when the Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party) separated from the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association. Marie and her mother Adelaide, were members of a branch of the Congressional Union formed in Middletown and both attended the inaugural meeting of the Delaware Congressional Union, held at Wilmington's Hotel Du Pont in March 1916. Marie was elected vice-chair of the New Castle County branch of the Congressional Union.

By spring, 1920, the 19th amendment had passed the House and Senate and been ratified by 35 states. Just one more was needed for ratification. Hoping to make Delaware the final state, Delaware's suffragists organized to lobby the governor to call a special session of the legislature (the General Assembly having adjourned in June 1919) and then to press the special session, meeting from March to June 1920, to ratify the amendment. Marie Lockwood was elected chair of the ratification committee of the Delaware National Woman's Party. When Lockwood and a delegation of suffragists called on the pro-suffrage Governor John G. Townsend Jr. asking him to call a special session, they argued that "the womanhood of this state has a right to look to its own Governor and its own legislature for their own enfranchisement under the Federal amendment." Despite the efforts of Delaware suffragists, the special session of the General Assembly adjourned in June 1920 without ratifying the amendment.

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Lockwood continued to fight for women's rights and remained an active member of the National Woman's Party, serving as chair of the Delaware branch of the NWP in the 1930s and 1940s. She stepped down in 1951. As NWP chair she lobbied the state legislature in favor of women's service on juries, employment rights, and in favor of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Lockwood's father had converted to Catholicism and she remained a lifelong Catholic. In 1944, she sent a letter defending the Saint Joan's Society, a Catholic women's rights organization, and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to Our Sunday Visitor, a weekly Catholic newspaper, stating "... there is nothing in Equality of legal status under the United States Constitution that would endanger the morality or Catholic faith." The letter was printed in the NWP's newspaper, Equal Rights.

Once women were able to vote, Lockwood became active in the Democratic Party. In 1944 she became Delaware Democratic National committeewoman and was a member of the committee that drafted the state Democratic Party platform. She served as committeewoman until 1948.

Marie T. Lockwood died in 1956 at the age of 84 at the Governor Bacon Health Center. She is buried at Old Saint Anne's Cemetery in Middletown, Delaware.


Marie T. Lockwood's obituary was published in the Journal Every Evening, October 3, 1956, p. 4.

Information on the Lockwood family farm is in George Lockwood's obituary, The Middletown Transcript, April 5, 1902, p. 3 and George W. Lockwood's will:, Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940.

For Marie Lockwood's work as public health nurse see "Dover Residents May Get Hospital," Wilmington Morning News, November 22, 1919, and "Further Appeals Made for Nurses in Service," Journal-Every Evening, September 4, 1942, p. 24.

Her dismissal from the State Health Commission was covered by the Delaware newspapers: "Social Welfare Folk Stirred by Dismissal of Miss Lockwood," Sunday Morning Star, October 3, 1926, p. 1, "Woman Charges State Dept. Is Not Run Right," The Evening Journal, February 11, 1927, p. 1, "Hearing Over State Health Board Money," The Evening Journal, February 14, 1927, p. 1.

For her suffrage work see "New Castle Suffragists Name Miss Speakman Chairman; Women Predict Victory," The Evening Journal, March 4, 1916, p. 7, "Suffrage Meeting," Middletown Transcript, March 4, 1916, p. 1, "Women Organize for Ratification," Wilmington Morning News, July 29, 1919, p. 7, "Women Appeal in Pageant for Ballot," Evening Journal, August 11, 1919, p. 7, "Demand Governor Call Legislature," Wilmington Morning News, August 14, 1919, p. 10.

The text of the letter Lockwood sent to Governor Townsend asking for a special session of the legislature was printed in The Suffragist. See Jessie Hardy MacKaye, "Campaigning in Delaware with the Granddaughter of a Statesman," The Suffragist, 7:34 (August 23, 1919): 7.

For the text of her letter on women's rights and the Catholic Church see Marie T. Lockwood, "Is Catholic Church Opposed to Equal Rights Amendment?" Equal Rights, 5:30, (May 1944): 41.

Lockwood's later career in National Woman's Party is covered in Delaware newspapers and the NWP newspaper Equal Rights. See "Women May Still Escape Jury Duty," Wilmington Morning News, March 9, 1929, p. 17; "Enthusiastic Meeting in Delaware," Equal Rights, 24:21 (November 1, 1938): 354; Marie T. Lockwood, "The Delaware Branch," Equal Rights, 26:10 (February 1941): 15; "Women's Party State Branch Elects Officers," Journal Every Evening, March 2, 1945, p. 12; "Mrs. Hulse Will Head National Women's Party," Journal Every Evening, November 1, 1951, p. 34.

The best source on the woman suffrage campaign in Delaware is Carol E. Hoffecker, "Delaware's Woman Suffrage Campaign," Delaware History, 20:3 (Spring-Summer, 1983): 149-67.

For general context on the National Woman's Party, see Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920); Inez Haynes Irwin, The Story of the Woman's Party (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1921); and Christine Lunardini, From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, 1910-1928 (New York: New York University Press, 1986).

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