Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Catherine "Kate" Milligan McLane, 1850-1927
By Cullen True, Kayla Webb, and Mell Flippen, students, Longwood University
Born March 28, 1850 in Baltimore, Catherine "Kate" Milligan McLane was a social worker and suffragist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Kate was the eldest of eight children born to Sophie Latimer Hoffman and Louis McLane. Her father had served as a member of the House of Representatives for twelve years, Secretary of the Treasury in 1831-1833 and as Secretary of State in 1833-1834. After his government service, he served for more than a decade as president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Catherine McLane, a lifelong Episcopalian, was an active member and leader in many Baltimore programs for social uplift. She served as Vice President of the Electric Sewing Machine Society, an organization that maintained thirty electric sewing machines with the purpose of helping poor and elderly women to be self-supporting. She was also one of the managers of a group of federated charities and served on the executive district and the district conference committees. McLane also devoted time to the Free Evening Medical Dispensary for Working Women and Girls. The Woman's Who's Who of America (1914) recorded that McLane was a supporter of woman suffrage.
McLane was a close friend of Elisabeth Gilman, a suffragist and well-known member of the Socialist Party and a fierce advocate for social justice for all. McLane and Gilman were both extremely actively on war work during World War I. They served together on the Executive Board and as Managers of Baltimore's Federated Charities during the war. The both served on the Women's Preparedness and Survey Commission, focusing on "all problems related to women and their work" during the war. McLane also served on the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee and the Committee on Training of Workers.
At the conclusion of the war, McLane resumed her active support of woman suffrage, like many other NAWSA activists. When a group of suffragists approached Governor Emerson Harrington, McLane was among those who made the case for ratification. Both chambers of the state legislature voted against ratification, 64-36 in the House and 18-9 in the State Senate.
In 1920, Catherine McLane, now 69, remained single and lived with two unmarried sisters and two servants. She owned her home free of mortgage and was listed as a volunteer social worker. She passed away in Baltimore in 1927, bequeathing $20,000 to Goucher College for its Department of Hygiene.
John William Leonard, "Woman's Who's Who of America" (1914), [LINK]
"McLane-Fisher Family Papers circa 1800-1905, MS. 2403", n.d. McLane-Fisher Family Papers circa 1800-1905, MS. 2403: ( Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland) , Accessed May 2, 2020. http://www.mdhs.org/findingaid/mclane-fisher-family-papers-circa-1800-1905-ms-2403.
Electric Sewing Machine Society, "Electric Sewing Machine Society, Annual Report of the Managers": (State University of New York at Binghamton), 2005.
Directory of Social Work for Baltimore and Maryland, Together with a List of Churches in Baltimore and Vicinity, 1917. Baltimore, MD.
"Miss Catherine M. McLane," Baltimore Sun, 27 April 1927, p. 14.
"Goucher is Left $20,000 in Will of Miss M'Lane," Baltimore Evening Sun, 27 April 1927, p. 36.
"Saving Public Money: Work of the Bayview Board in Scrutinizing Those Who Apply to Become Wards of the City". Sun (Baltimore, MD). Feb. 8, 1898.