Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret Mullins (Mrs. W.J.) Brown, 1872-1938
By Morgan Bitler, graduate student, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
Born around 1872 in Maryland to Irish immigrant parents, Marguerite or Margaret Mullins worked continually throughout her life for woman's suffrage. Around 1901, Margaret married William J. Brown, a merchant, and they continued to live in the Baltimore area. Mr. and Mrs. William J. Brown are had one daughter, Eunice. Mrs. Brown is noted several times for her common-sense and practical approaches getting Woman's Suffrage passed. She died May 19, 1938 in Baltimore.
Active in many Women's Suffrage organizations, Mrs. W. J. Brown was a committee member of the Maryland Woman Suffrage Association in 1902. Along with several other committee members, Mrs. Brown was tasked with being a contact for money collection for the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Fund with plans to have the state organization credited at the New York State Woman Suffrage Convention in Buffalo, New York. According to a 1909 Maryland Woman Suffrage Association convention program, Mrs. Margaret Mullins Brown served as a State Member of the National Executive Committee and as chairman of the Peace and Arbitration Committee.
Mrs. Brown was a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Known for its stance against all alcohol use, the WCTU was founded in 1874 and grew to be the largest women's organizations in the country. Specifically, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union states that their starting purpose was "protection of the home," meaning fighting for the women's right to vote, own and control their own property, custody of their own children in divorce cases, and other legal protections for women. In 1911, Mrs. William J. Brown was president of the Hospital Association of Ladies of the Maccabees of the World of Baltimore City. At a convention for the WCTU in October of 1911, Mrs. Brown spoke about her trip to Sweden as a representative of the Ladies of the Maccabees of the World at the International Suffrage Convention at Stockholm.
On February 7, 1913, she represented Maryland suffragists and marched on Washington D.C. Four-hundred women protested and "stormed the House Committee on Presidential Elections" demanding an amendment to the constitution allowing women the right to vote for members of congress. On March 19, 1913, Mrs. W.J. Brown was elected President of the Maryland Equal Franchise League. She served for one year. A woman suffrage organization founded in 1911 by Mrs. Elisabeth King Ellicott, the league was an auxiliary group to the National American Woman Suffrage Association and partnered with several other suffrage groups. Together, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Ellicott led a campaign in Western Maryland to inform women and gather support for the cause of women's rights. Mrs. Brown was a strong supporter of Universal Suffrage, and is quoted by newspapers explaining to listeners that citizens and women must hold tight to Democratic values. An October 3, 1913 news article reported on Mrs. William J. Brown writing and presenting a resolution for the Maryland Woman's Christian Temperance Union against the slit skirt and turkey-trot calling them immodest forms of dress and dancing. At this meeting, Mrs. Brown also addressed her desire to have prohibition passed. By 1916, she was part of the Fortnightly Club, a club for women to have "intellectual conversations." She was noted as president of the Fortnightly Club as late as 1930, and was organizing a Housewives League of Maryland.
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Anthony, Susan B. and Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). New York, N.Y., 1922. [LINK]
Catoctin clarion. [volume] (Mechanicstown, Md.), 11 Sept. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026688/1913-09-11/ed-1/seq-2/>
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The citizen. (Frederick City, Md.), 07 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060092/1913-02-07/ed-1/seq-3/>
The Daily Banner. (Cambridge, Md.), 03 Oct. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88065731/1913-10-03/ed-1/seq-4/>
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The Evening Sun (Baltimore, MD) 19 May 1938 Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/369706036/?terms=%22Mrs.%2BWilliam%2BJ.%2BBrown%22#
Maryland Woman-Suffrage Association. (c.1902). Letter: Maryland Woman-Suffrage Association, circa 1902. [Letter]. Special Collections Department, Woman Suffrage in Maryland Collection (scws026). Enoch Pratt Free Library/ State Library Resource Center. https://collections.digitalmaryland.org/digital/collection/scws/id/124/rec/2
Maryland Woman-Suffrage Association. (November 22 & 23,1909). Annual Convention: Maryland Woman-Suffrage Association. [Pamphlet]. Special Collections Department, Woman Suffrage in Maryland Collection (scws008). Enoch Pratt Free Library/ State Library Resource Center. https://collections.digitalmaryland.org/digital/collection/scws/id/49/rec/3
Maryland Suffrage News. (Baltimore, Md.), 22 March 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060379/1913-03-22/ed-1/seq-4/>
Weaver, Diane. 1992. Maryland Women and the Transformation of Politics. Retrieved from https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/20232/1169853.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Woman's Christian Temperance Union. (n.d.). Early History. Retrieved from https://www.wctu.org/history.html