Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ethel Harrison Crosby, 1871-1924

By Destiny Brown, Gretchen Yoder, Elena Yonika, Longwood University (students)

Ethel Harrison Crosby was born in January, 1871 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1910 the United States Census listed her as the head of her own household living with her sister, Phoebe S. Crosby, and three female boarders. Her occupation was listed as bookkeeper. Ten years later, census records indicated that she remained the household head, but lived alone and worked as a "teacher at home."

Crosby was active in social reform at the local level, beginning with her membership in the Baltimore County chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She was an original member of the Women's Civic League, an organization founded in 1911 to advocate for the improvement of public health and sanitation conditions in Baltimore. As President of the First Division Health Association in Catonsville, Crosby successfully advocated for a visiting public health nurse to serve the first district of Baltimore, a project that over the next three decades grew to include free health care and dental services, x-ray screenings for tuberculosis, and monthly well baby clinics for local residents. In August, 1914 Crosby was visiting her cousin in Malaga, Spain when the First World War broke out in Europe and she experienced a delay in her ocean passage back to the United States. She wrote to her sister in Catonsville expressing her worry that Spain would not be able to remain neutral in the escalating conflict, a concern that was cited in the Baltimore Sun. Upon her return Crosby represented Baltimore County at the Maryland state women's suffrage convention. When Crosby died in 1924 at the age of fifty-three, the local health project she had initiated nearly thirty years earlier was named the Ethel Harrison Crosby Health Center in her memory.


Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United States 1910 Population. "Ethel H. Crosby,"

Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States 1920 Population. "Ethel H. Crosby,"

The Baltimore Sun:
"Temperance Workers in Session," November 21, 1902, p. 7.
"Miss Ethel Crosby Hostess," June 22, 1909, p. 7.
"Miss Crosby Successful Gardner" August 17, 1912, p. 8.
"Miss Ethel H. Crosby In Spain" August 21, 1914, p. 4.
"Health Center Dedication Ceremonies Set for Today," September 26, 1926, p. 4.
"Helping the Neighbors to Vim and Vitality," March 28, 1948, p. A5.

National American Woman Suffrage Association, The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI 1900-1920, Ida Husted Harper, ed. New York NY: J.J. Little and Ives, 1922, p. 266. [LINK]

Women's Civic League"

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