Biographical Sketch of Lizzie York Case

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Lizzie York Case, 1837-1909

By Nicole Heaton, independent historian

Lizzie (Elizabeth) York was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 16, 1837. Her parents were both from Pennsylvania, and she was purportedly of Quaker ancestry. She married James Madison Case, an engineer who was employed with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, sometime around the start of the Civil War. The Cases had two children, both girls. Unfortunately, their daughters appear to have died in childhood.

After marrying, Mrs. Lizzie York Case traveled extensively, in Europe and across the United States. She lived in various places, but primarily kept residence in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a writer, publishing prose, essays, and poetry in various newspapers and magazines. She wrote a column for the Detroit Free Press in the 1870s. She was also an educational teacher and lecturer.

Her most famous piece of writing was a religious poem titled, "There is No Unbelief." It was widely published, and there was controversy with the poem being erroneously attributed to other poets for many years. In the September 24, 1905 edition of the Evening Star, a Washington, D.C. newspaper, Mrs. Lizzie York Case defended her authorship of the poem and described how it came to be written. The article ends with this statement by Mrs. Case:

"No more interesting problem than the woman problem confronts us all today. But really I'm tired of hearing the ceaseless prate about women as women. Genius and ability ought to be considered apart from sex. Women and men should both be judged alike as individuals, as personalities capable of doing and being great things. So I hate the words 'authoress' and 'poetess' and the other feminizing suffixes.
No, indeed, I do not think that woman's so-called invasion of man's sphere has tended in any way to coarsen her or rob her of one whit of her grace and charm. Look at Susan B. Anthony, whom they all ridiculed some years ago, and Julia Ward Howe. Where can you find any of their sex who have grown old more delightfully or who have mellowed with the years as they have? The living and doing of great and vital things brings with it, not bitterness and sharpness, but grace and beauty."

Mrs. Lizzie York Case appears to have been an active participant in the suffrage movement. She wrote a song, titled "Battle Hymn of Peace," that was sung at a Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Progressive Friends on June 4, 1903. In 1903 she also was a featured speaker at the annual convention of the Maryland state suffrage association. She was a member of Maryland's Peace and Arbitration, and she attended the National Arbitration and Peace Congress in New York in 1907 as a delegate, alongside chairman Marguerite M. Brown. Along with supplying prose and other pieces of writing, she lectured to or spoke at various clubs and organizations, including teachers' clubs, study clubs, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Baltimore Suffrage Club.

Mrs. Lizzie York Case died on May 25, 1909 at the age of 72. Her cause of death was listed as "indigestion." Her obituary, short and concise, noted that she was "interested" in the suffrage movement.

Sources:

Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK].

"United States Census, 1860," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9B9J-9YS6?cc=1473181&wc=73BR-C4M%3A1589423267%2C1589428495%2C1589428497 : 24 March 2017), Maryland > Baltimore > 8th Ward Baltimore City > image 223 of 358.

"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XH13-JW4?cc=1438024&wc=92KN-BZN%3A518652801%2C518795801%2C519011601 : 12 June 2019), Maryland > Baltimore > Baltimore, ward 07 > image 303 of 412.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6SC7-GZC?cc=1325221&wc=9B7R-G58%3A1030551101%2C1030688401%2C1030782801 : 5 August 2014), Maryland > Baltimore > ED 40 Election District 9, Precinct 1 > image 43 of 69.

Stevenson, Burton E. "There Is No Unbelief." Famous Single Poems: And the Controversies Which Have Raged Around Them. Harcourt, Brace and Company. 1923.

"Maryland." Fortieth Annual Report of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association. Edited by Harriet Taylor Upton. Headquarters, Warren, Ohio. 1908.

The Detroit times. [volume] (Detroit, Mich.), 26 May 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016689/1909-05-26/ed-2/seq-2/>

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 24 Sept. 1905. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1905-09-24/ed-1/seq-8/>

Evening journal. [volume] (Wilmington, Del.), 25 May 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042354/1903-05-25/ed-1/seq-5/>

The Morning herald. [volume] (Wilmington, Del.), 15 May 1876. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038119/1876-05-15/ed-1/seq-1/>

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