Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Caroline Mays Brevard, 1860-1920

By Nora J. Quinlan, Hollywood, FL

Caroline "Carrie" Mays Brevard was born August 29, 1860, on her family's plantation in Tallahassee, Florida. She was the oldest child of Mary Laura Call and Theodore W. Brevard, Jr., who had served in the Civil War as a Confederate general. Caroline was descended from two prominent southern families. On her mother's side, her grandfather was Florida's third and fifth territorial governor. On her father's side, her grandfather was a Florida Judge. Brevard never married.

Brevard was educated at private schools in Tallahassee and at the small Cleveland Seminary in North Carolina. At the age of 18, she taught history and English for one year at Seminary West of the Suwannee, which later became Florida State University (FSU). In the 1890s she appears to have run her own small private school in Tallahassee. By 1892, she was a teacher at the Leon County Academy in Tallahassee. Brevard continued her own education by attending the Summer School of the South in Knoxville in 1904 and taking classes on economics and literature at Summer Session at Columbia University. She passed the teachers exam for the Tallahassee public schools in 1901 and became a history teacher at Leon High School in 1905. In 1915, she began teaching history and geography and became chair of the History Department at Florida State College for Women later to be FSU. She, herself, never graduated from college.

Brevard published the History of Florida in 1904 and it became a required textbook in Florida schools. It was removed from the Florida curriculum in the 1920s as biased and racist. She also wrote for local newspapers, published a book on folktales, and wrote about southern literature. In 1924, the Florida Historical Society published the posthumous work, A History of Florida from the Treaty of 1763 to Our Own Times. She was actively involved in a number of women's groups including the Daughters of the Confederacy for which she served as a historian and was active in a campaign to install monuments in Florida honoring the confederacy. Caroline Mays Brevard, who became its first president, organized the Anna Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Tallahassee in 1898. She also belonged to and served as the historian for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. And she was a member of various educational associations. Brevard was the founding member and president of the Association of the History Teachers of Florida. She was also active in the Florida Historical Society. They now offer the Carolyn [sic] Mays Brevard Undergraduate Essay Award in her memory.

Florida was a late arrival to the suffrage movement. The first suffrage group, the Florida Equal Franchise League (FEFL), was organized in 1912 in Jacksonville. In early 1913 Mary Safford, a noted suffragist leader from Iowa who had recently moved to Florida, organized the Orlando Suffragist League. This group needed local representation in Tallahassee for the state government's biennial legislative sessions. Safford was instrumental in organizing the short-lived Tallahassee Suffrage League with Brevard as a local member.

In the fall of 1913 a meeting of was organized by Safford in Orlando to coincide with the annual convention of the Florida Federation of Woman's Clubs. This led to the founding of the Florida Equal Suffrage Association (FESA), which became a rival group to FEFL. Brevard served as third vice president of FESA. Because Brevard was based in Tallahassee, she again became involved in 1915 setting up the Tallahassee Equal Suffrage League but this too did not survive.

From 1914 to through 1917, Brevard served as a member of the Legislature Committee of FESA. This committee served as FESA lobbyists during the legislature's 1915 and 1917 sessions.

In 1916, the National Woman's Party (NWP) was organized to get federal legislation passed on suffrage. NWP was more radical than the National American Woman Suffrage Association and began organizing at the state level setting up along congressional districts. It started a group in Florida in 1917. In 1918 Brevard became secretary for the local NWP committee for the Florida Third Congressional District that then included the city of Tallahassee.

Unfortunately, the suffrage movement in Florida was scattered, not politically astute, and never very well organized. In 1915, 1917, and in a special legislative session in 1919, the state did not pass any woman suffrage legislation despite various attempts by FESA and others to promote suffrage in Florida. The state legislature also never convened to vote on the Federal amendment and Florida was the only state that took no action on the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

Brevard died March 27, 1920, at the age of 59, just months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. She is buried at St. John's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Tallahassee.

At the time of her death, Brevard was honored with many memorials. An elementary school in Tallahassee was named after her as well as the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, today, Brevard's legacy is almost forgotten and has now become tarnished because of her writings and work in support of the confederacy and racism.


Portrait of Caroline Mays Brevard - Tallahassee, Florida. 19--.

Black & white photoprint. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 2 Mar. 2020.



Call family and Brevard family papers, 1788-1925. State Archives of Florida.

United States Census, 1870-1880, database with images, FamilySearch

United States Census, 1900-1920, database with images, FamilySearch

"Florida Deaths, 1877-1939", database, FamilySearch


Annual Convention Florida Equal Suffrage Association. Pensacola News Journal, March 20, 1917. p. 5. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Equal Suffrage League Formed at Orlando. Tampa Tribune. November 8, 1913. p. 2. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Florida Suffragists Organize. Tampa Tribune, February 8, 1914. p. 18. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Legislature Committee doing Active Work. The Pensacola Journal, April 9, 1915. Database: Chronicling America.

Program First Annual Convention Florida Equal Suffrage Association. Pensacola News Journal, December 3, 1914. p. 2. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Suffrage Conference at Villa Serena. The Pensacola Journal, March 28, 1917. Database: Chronicling America

The Growth of Suffrage in Florida. Pensacola News Journal. May 9, 1915. p. 7. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Woman's Party. The Miami News, April 17, 1918. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Women Line Up to Win Equal Suffrage Fight. The Tampa Tribune. April 14, 1915. p. 4. Database: Newspapers by Ancestry.

Books, Dissertations and Articles:

Allman, T.D. Finding Florida. The True History of the Sunshine State. New York: Grove Press, 2013.

Catalogue of the Seminary West of the Suwannee River (State College for Western and Middle Florida) for Session of 1889-'90 and announcement for session 1890-'91., Tallahassee. Tallahassee FLA.: Tallahasseean Book and Job Office. Various issues: 1886-7; 1888-'89. Florida State University Library DigiNole.

Codieck, Barrett. Keepers of History, Shapers of Memory: The Florida Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1895-1930. Dissertation. Florida State University. 2012. Florida State University Library DigiNole

Cox, Karen L. Dixie's Daughters. The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the preservation of confederate culture. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Flastacowo Yearbook 1914, 1915. Florida State University Library DigiNole.;

Green, Elna C. Southern Strategies. Southern Women and the Woman Suffrage Questions. Chapel Hill, NC: University Press of North Carolina, 1997.

Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 115.

Johnson, Kenneth Ray. The Woman Suffrage Movement in Florida. Florida State University dissertation PhD 1966. ProQuest,

National American Woman Suffrage Association. Convention 1914: Nashville, Tenn.). The Hand Book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association And Proceedings of the Forty-sixth Annual Convention, Held At Nashville, Tennessee, November 12-17, Inclusive, 1914. New York City: The Association, 1914. HathiTrust Digital Library.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. Convention 1917: Washington, D.C.), and Nettie Rogers Shuler. The Hand Book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association And Proceedings of the Forty-ninth Annual Convention, Held At Washington, D.C., December 12-15, Inclusive, 1917. New York City: The Association, 1917. HathiTrust Digital Library.

Taylor, A. Elizabeth. The Woman Suffrage Movement in Florida. The Florida Historical Quarterly v. 36, #11 July 1957, pp. 42-60. JSTOR

The Weekly Floridian. May 5, 1887. February 9, 1888. September 10, 1892. University of Florida Digital Collections.

Works by Caroline Mays Brevard

Brevard, Caroline Mays. A History of Florida. With questions, supplementary chapters and an outline of Florida Civil Government by H. E. Bennett New York: American book Company, [c. 1904].

_____. A History of Florida from the Treaty of 1763 to Our Own Times. Edited by James Alexander Robertson. Deland, FL: The Florida State Historical Society, 1924.

_____. Around the Lightwood Fire. Richmond: B.F. Johnson, [c. 1915]

_____. "Betsy Brandon's Guest (A True Story)." St. Nicholas: A Monthly Magazine for Boys and Girls, Volume 34, Part 1. Nov. 1906, to April, 1907. Pp. 301-2. Retrieved from:

_____. "Caroline Lee Hentz (1800-1856)." in Library of Southern literature. Compiled under the direct supervision of Southern men of letters. Edwin Anderson Alderman, Joel Chandler Harris, editors in chief; Charles William Kent, literary editor. Atlanta: Martin and Hoyt Co., [1909-13]. Volume 6, pp. 2375-2379.

_____. High School Morality Code. Washington, D.C: Character Education Institution, n.d.

_____. Literature of the South. New York: Broadway Publishing Company, [c. 1908]

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