Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Ware Foster, 1825-1913

By Eileen MacVicar and Kelley Harris, Undergraduates, Saint Anselm College

Mary Ware Foster was born on March 23, 1825 in Montpelier, Vermont. She was one of seven children of Cyrus Ware and Patty Wheeler Ware, who married in Barre in 1803. Cyrus was an attorney, justice of the peace, and member of the General Assembly. His gravestone notes, "the unwearied exertion of Cyrus Ware as the Representative from Montpelier in 1805 Secured its Selection as the Capital of Vermont." Mary Ware married Joel Foster Jr., on April 3, 1855. Together, the couple had two children. The first child, Joel Foster was born about 1860. The second child, George Hyde Foster, was born about 1862.

According to the Women's Journal, Foster attended the 2nd annual meeting of the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association, December 9th and 10th in 1885, with Lucy Stone in attendance. During this meeting, Foster read a paper that discussed the rights that women were demanding, including the right to vote. She also attended the 5th annual meeting on February 13th and 14th, 1889.

Foster was also a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and was in attendance at the third annual WCTU convention in St Albans, Vermont on September 26th and 27th, 1887.

In 1888, a Municipal Suffrage Bill was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives. Foster was one of the people who urged this bill to be enacted along with Lucy Stone and Stone's husband, Henry Blackwell.

After an illness of about four months, Mary Ware Foster died of pneumonia June 3, 1913. Her obituary praised her as "one of the city's most estimable women, taking great interest in public affairs and in religious activities in the Church of Messiah," a Unitarian Church.


Mary Ware Foster's birth date, parents' names, and children's names and birth years can be found on and in the 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses An image of her parents' grave is here:

Evidence of Foster's suffrage activities, including her attendance at the second annual and the fifth annual meetings of the Woman Suffrage Association in Vermont can be found in the Woman's Journal. Her attendance at the second annual meeting is recorded on page 388 of Vol. XVI, Issue 49, as published on December 5, 1885. Documentation of her attendance at the fifth annual meeting can be found on page 44 of Vol. XX, Issue 6, as published on February 9, 1889. Her advocacy for the right to vote at this meeting an be found on page 4 of December 26, 1885 edition of the Vermont Journal, or at

Her work with the WCTU can be found on page 10 of the Proceedings of the Third Annual Convention of the W.C.T.U. of Vermont published in St. Albans by Messenger Steam Printing Establishment in 1877, or at Her effort to pass a Municipal suffrage bill in Vermont can be found on the first page dealing with Vermont in the History of Woman Suffrage.

Foster's death date and obituary can be found on page 2 of the June 10, 1913 edition of the Northfield (VT) News, or at More information about her death can also be found in the Vermont death records on, and at

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