Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Marie I. Hardwick, 1855-1946

 

By Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy, Eastern Michigan University

Marie I. Hardwick was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1855. Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, Marie Hardwick worked to raise her siblings while furthering her education. In 1888, she graduated from Clark University with a degree in Pedagogy and also studied at the University of Chicago. Throughout her lifetime, Hardwick was deeply committed to Christianity and black education. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she taught at Clark University and was a member of the Asbury United Methodist Church.

At some point in the early twentieth century, Marie Hardwick moved to Washington, D.C. She was appointed the matron at Miner Hall, the women's dormitory at Howard University under the presidency of Wilbur P. Thierkheld. She also taught various courses at the university. In 1909, her salary was $550 per year, with $150 for room and board. Hardwick was a champion of her institution. In 1910, she was elected treasurer of the committee to raise money to construct a gymnasium on campus. Not only was Hardwick an advocate for Howard University, but she became a role model and mentor to hundreds of women students.

As a dormitory matron, it is possible that she personally recruited women students to participate in the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. She marched in the parade with Howard students; the group was consciously separated from other contingents of college women in an effort by Alice Paul to placate southern women supporters.

In 1922, Howard University appointed a Dean of Woman Students, Lucy Diggs Slowe. With Slowe's appointment, Hardwick stepped away from her duties as matron, but continued to teach at Howard. As a resident of Washington, D.C., Hardwick was active in women's networks throughout the city. She served as a Royal Matron in the Ruth Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, a popular fraternal order for black women in the city. And she interacted with many luminaries of the era, whether it was attending a concert performed by Marian Anderson or a dinner celebrating Howard University with keynote speaker, Mary McLeod Bethune. In the 1930s, she moved to Baltimore and lived with her close friend, Marie O'Connell, who was the widow of the late Dr. Pezavia O'Connell, a History Professor at Morgan State University.

Although she retired from Howard University, women students always returned to honor her at various dinners and celebrations. A tribute to her in the Afro-American noted that she, "came into intimate conact with many women who are outstanding leaders today." At a celebratory dinner in 1933, Howard alumnae presented Hardwick with a bouquet of flowers and presented a recommendation that a new dormitory for women be named in her honor. In 1944, suffering from poor eyesight, she moved back to her home city of Savannah, Georgia and lived with her nephew, Herbert M. Hardwick. In 1945, she returned to Howard University for her final tribute dinner, where it was announced that a suite in Sojourner Truth Hall would bear her name. Marie Hardwick died in 1946 at the age of ninety-one.

Sources:

"Marie I. Hardwick," Tenth Census of the United States, 1880, Chatham County, Georgia, ED 18, p. 3.

Rayford Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years, 1867-1967 (New York: New York University Press, 1969), 166-167.

"Student Movement Launched," Howard University Journal, February 25, 1910, 1.

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene, Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 87-88.

"Locals and Society," Washington Tribune, November 17, 1923, 2 and "D.C. Society," Afro-American, November 22, 1930, 2.

"Marian Anderson Thrills Audience," Philadelphia Tribune, January 17, 1929, 2 and "Washington Society," Chicago Defender, November 12, 1938, 15.

"Dr. Pezavia O'Connell Dies Suddenly," Afro-American, November 29, 1930, 1.

"Miss Hardwick Dies in Georgia," Afro-American, April 20, 1946, 16.

"News of our Schools and Colleges," Afro-American, March 11, 1933, 21.

"Former Dean of Women Honored at H.U. Dinner," Afro-American, November 17, 1945, 17

 

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