Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Marion Hamilton Carter, 1865-1937

By Mary Maillard, Independent Historian

An earlier version of this sketch appeared in Wikipedia at

Marion Hamilton Carter (1865-1937) was an American Progressive-Era educator, psychologist, children's literature editor, artist, muckraking journalist, women's suffrage advocate, and novelist. She was the eldest of three children born into a well-to-do family in Philadelphia at the end of the Civil War. Her father was a doctor and her mother published Sketches of North Carolina: Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows (1900) based upon interviews she had conducted among poor Appalachian folk.

Carter taught school for eleven years from 1888 until 1899 while attending prestigious institutions of higher learning. She attended Miss Van Kirk's Philadelphia Training School for Kindergartners (c.1883-1887) and attended Vassar College (1887-89). In 1893 she earned a degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and continued there as a post graduate student the following year. While enrolled at Radcliffe College (1895-96), she studied at Harvard University, under the direction of philosopher William James and educator Paul Henry Hanus. In 1898 she received a BS Cornell University and worked towards a PhD in Philosophy the following year. She also earned a teacher's certificate in 1899 at the New York Teacher Training School where she taught for several years.

During her transition from teaching to journalism in 1904, Carter published seven books: a teaching manual, with her own hand drawn illustrations of common flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and six editions of children's animal stories previously published in St. Nicholas Magazine. She established her reputation as a muckraking journalist through her months-long coverage of the sensational 1906 Josephine Terranova murder trial. Her journalism covered issues of pedagogy, health/medicine, psychology and the occult, and sometimes reflected reactionary views. She published in McClure's Magazine (1904-1910) and worked as associate editor of the magazine for several years. In her editorial capacity, she wrote numerous pieces during her professional career either anonymously or under assumed names.

An active member of The Authors League of America, Carter gave invited presentations about women in the press after she left McClure's in 1910. At the Iowa Press and Authors' Club in Des Moines in early 1911 she spoke on "Woman and Magazine Work." That year she and a group of New York women purchased the failed New Orleans based suffragist magazine, The Woman's Era (not to be confused with the African American magazine The Woman's Era). As editor-in-chief she planned to hire "women prominent in the field of literature" but she was unable to get the new magazine off the ground. Carter published numerous short stories between 1905 and 1922 and many of those written in the 1910s are set in Wyoming where she had travelled in 1911 to investigate Wyoming women's suffrage and to interview the first woman justice of the peace in the United States.

Carter's The Woman With Empty Hands: The Evolution of a Suffragette was published anonymously in 1913 as a pseudo-autobiography and dedicated to British suffragette Emmeline_Pankhurst and her daughters. Written in the first person, it tells the story of an elite widowed woman from Richmond, Virginia--feeling hopeless, devastated, and purposeless after the deaths of her husband and only child--who converts to the women's suffrage cause after meeting a young suffragette distributing pamphlets on the street.

By 1922 Carter had moved to Christiantown, Massachusetts, an unoccupied Indigenous reservation on the northwest side of Martha's Vineyard that she had loved since she was a child. She died in Christiantown on March 12, 1937, a month short of her 72nd birthday. She left her estate to Cornell University.

Published Works of Marion Hamilton Carter


Nature Study with Common Things: an Elementary Laboratory Manual. New York: American Book Company, 1904.

The Woman with Empty Hands: The Evolution of a Suffragette. New York: Dodd Mead and Company, 1913.

Souls Resurgent. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916.


About Animals: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Bear Stories: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Stories of Brave Dogs: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Lion and Tiger Stories: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Cat Stories: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Panther Stories: Retold from St. Nicholas Magazine. New York: D. Appleton Century Company, 1904.

Journals and Magazines


"Chromogenic bacteria." Letter to the Editor, New York Medical Journal, 59 (1894): 372.

"Agar." Journal of Applied Microscopy and Laboratory Methods, Vol. I (Rochester, NY: Bausch & Laumb Optical Company, 1898), 62-63.

"Educational Paper Dolls." The Journal of Pedagogy, Vol.11 (April 1898): 133-144.

"Darwin's Idea of Mental Development." The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 9, Issue 4 (July 1898): 536.

"Romane's Idea of Mental Development." The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 11, Issue 1 (October1899): 101-118.

Summaries of Articles

Evolution and Consciousness by Oliver H.P. Smith, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 8 (1899): 321-322.

Evolution Evolved by Alfred H. Lloyd, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 8 (1899): 321-322.

Vitalism by C. Morgan Lloyd, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 8 (1899): 321-322.


"As To The Canteen: Another Voice for a Woman's Movement Distinct from the W.C.T.U." Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, December 1, 1905.

"Death-Dealing Ventilation: Foul Air Forced Through School Buildings by New Process." Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, January 23, 1906.

"The Child Toilers: Southern Mills Don't Grind Them, Marion Carter Says." Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, February 4, 1913.


"The Kindergarten Child -- after the Kindergarten." The Atlantic Monthly, March 1899: 358-365.

"The Parent." McClure's Magazine, November 1904: 90-101.

"One Man and his Town." McClure's Magazine, January 1908: 275.

"[The Juvenile Joy Saloon]. " The Housekeeper (Minneapolis, Minnesota), October 1908.

"The Conservation of the Defective Child." McClure's Magazine, June 1909: 160-171.

"The Vampire of the South." McClure's Magazine, October 1909: 617-632.

"Pellagra: the Medical Mystery of To-day." McClure's Magazine, November 1909: 94-103.

"Preventable Blindness." Co-written with Carolyn Conant Van Blarcom, McClure's Magazine, April 1910: 619-628.

"The Confessions of a Sometime Kindergartner." Collier's: The National Weekly, September 24, 1910: 22, 28-29.

"A Woman Justice of the Peace." The Saturday Evening Post, December 30, 1911: 9.

"The Book Not Written By Human Hands." Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, March 17, 1918: 43.

"The Art of Staying Young." People's Favorite Magazine, April 1921

"Have You Had Your Iodin?" The Delineator, Vol 105, September 1924: 98.

Short Fiction

"The Deciding Silence." Everybody's, November 1905: 589.

"An Elopement." The Delineator, February 1908: 272.

"The Bond." The Housekeeper, January 1909.

"Just Because." Cincinatti Commercial Tribune, March 21, 1909: 25. (republication of "An Elopement" with 1909 copyright.)

"Grasshopper Green." Woman's Home Companion, June 1909.

"The Little Harmonizer of his Three-fold Nature." McClure's Magazine, July 1909: 294-301.

"'Taters.'" The Saturday Evening Post, March 30, 1912: 12.

"The Proving of Kinky Larkin." Colliers: The National Weekly, April 6, 1912: 17.

"The Gentleman Doll." Woman's Home Companion, August 1912: 40.

"The Wooing of 'Holy Calm.'" The Century Magazine, December 1912: 218.

"The Woman With Empty Hands: The Evolution of a Suffragette." The Saturday Evening Post, January 25, 1913: 13-15, 53-58.

"Pie-Colored Horse." The Century Magazine, February 1913: 517.

"Starlight." The Youth's Companion, February 9, 1922: 96.


"In Lighter Vein: The Cricket." The Century Magazine, January 1911: 479.


Carter, Mary Nelson. Sketches of North Carolina: Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1900.

Chapman, Mary. Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and U.S. Modernism. New York: Oxford University Press (2014): 10.

Chapman, Mary and Angela Mills. Treacherous Texts: An Anthology of U.S. Suffrage Literature, 1846-1946. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

Hough, Henry Beetle. To the Harbor Light. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976: 179-180.

Knapp, Krister Dylan. William James: Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2017: 295, 351-2.

The Correspondence of William James: William and Henry, 1905-1908. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2003.

"Publisher's Notes," Journal of Education, Vol. 18, No. 10 (Boston University, 1883): 174.

"Courses of Instruction in the Sage School of Philosophy," Cornell University (1891, updated 1902): 7.

"Marion Hamilton Carter," The Cornellian, 1898/99: 60.

Massachusetts State Normal School at Worcester: Catalogue and Circular. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1892: n.p.

Unsigned Newspaper articles

"Kindergarten Teachers," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 1885: 3.

"Mrs. Mary Nelson Carter," obituary notice in The Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), February 11, 1908: 2.

"Programme for Annual Club Banquet is Outlined," Des Moines Tribune, February 28, 1911: 7.

"Mrs. Marion Hamilton Carter Guest of Honor," Des Moines Tribune, May 11, 1911: 7.

"Will Entertain Miss Marion H. Carter," The Des Moines Register, May 14, 1911: 41.

[No headline], The Brooklyn Chat, September 5, 1914: 36.

The Authors' League Bulletin, Vols. 3-4, 1915: 6.

"The Latest Books," Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, September 27, 1916: 10.

"Chilmark, Alone," Gazette Chronicle, Vineyard Gazette, from Gazette editions of March 1937, comp. Cynthia Meisner, March 1, 2012.

"Marion Hamilton Carter," Index to Death and Marriage Notices in the Vineyard Gazette," 1884-1939, compiled by Mrs. Kathryn Stewart 1995, transcribed by C. Baer, 1996.

"Marion Hamilton Carter," The Ithaca Journal, June 7, 1937: 2.

"Charles Carter," 1850 U.S. Census, Sullivan, Madison, New York.

"Charles Carter," Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929.

"Charles Carter," Assistant Surgeon, October 1, 1861, resigned February 6, 1863, Navy Officers 1798-1900, Naval History and Heritage Command.

"Marion Carter," 1870 U.S. Census, Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Marion Hamilton Carter," Vassar College Yearbook, 1889.

"Fanny Bunker," Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915, FHL film 1011826, October 18, 1897.

"Fanny H. Bunker," Will Papers, Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, No 1635b-1663, 1897.

"Marion H. Carter," 1900 U.S. Census, Manhattan, New York, New York.

Mary Nelson Carter," Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records 1669-2013, Burial Certificate, January 9, 1908.

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