Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Margaret Brownson Linton, 1860-1951

By Kimberly Drotar, Rosemont College

Margaret Brownson, more commonly referred to as Mae, was born on November 9, 1860 in Washington, Pennsylvania to James J. Brownson, a Presbyterian minister, and Eleonor Acheson. Through her father she is distantly related to Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States. On July 9, 1885, she married Dr. Edwin Linton, a professor of Biology at Washington & Jefferson College. The couple had two children; Eleanor A. Linton, (December 1888), and Edwin Scott Linton, (May 1892). Edwin Scott died in the First World War. Margaret Brownson Linton died on January 6, 1952 and is buried in Washington Cemetery in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Linton was actively involved in the suffrage movement of Washington County by 1913. As the county's vice-chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party, Linton traveled from town to town to spread the word of the movement and to inspire the formation of local organizations. In late 1914, in recognition of her role as "one of the original suffrage leaders in her country," she was elected chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party of Washington County. During the same year, she also held the title of president of the Equal Franchise Association of Washington and served on the credential committee of the Pennsylvania Women Suffrage Association's annual meeting.

During 1915, Linton campaigned throughout the county in support of the Pennsylvania's suffrage amendment and arranged for the woman suffrage Liberty Bell to reach her county during its tour of the states. She also served as part of the Pennsylvania Women Suffrage Association's delegation that attended the NAWSA convention. Newspaper accounts described her as a particularly effective speaker, explaining that, "her talk resulted in practically all the women present signing the yellow slip endorsing the movement." The slip in question referred to a strategy Linton extolled while lecturing women during a visit with her daughter in Missouri. Rather than enroll people as members of suffrage clubs or other organizations, Linton believed the campaign should focus on simply asking people to express their support for equal suffrage by signing the slip.

After the 1915 suffrage amendment failed, Linton persevered. Despite her considerable financial means, coming from an estate valued at $100,000, she worked diligently to earn the support of local farmers by supporting candidates who protected their economic and business rights. In 1916, she was elected as the state vice-president to the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association. At the Harrisburg convention that year, she vowed to spend $40,000 to support congressmen and legislators favorable to both farmers and suffrage.

Throughout 1918, Linton remained tireless in her campaigning, often writing newspapers columns that can be seen below. Additionally, as the United States entered the First World War, Linton served as county chairwoman of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense. She was also now a grandmother, despite the charge by anti-suffragists that no mother could want the right to vote.

In 1921, Linton was elected honorary chairman of the Washington County League of Women Voters. This honor doubtlessly acknowledged Linton's many years of work and dedication to the area's women.

Following her husband's retirement, the couple traveled and eventually relocated to Missouri to live near their daughter, disappearing from the public eye. Linton lived to the age of 91. A brief obituary valued her estate at her death at $100,000.


"Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Linton To Make Home In Missouri." The Daily Notes, 18 September 1920, p. 1.,

"Equal Suffrage Meeting a Success." The Daily Notes, 6 January 1915, p. 5.,

"Obituaries." Somerset Daily American, 18 January 1952,,

"Mrs. Edwin Linton," The Daily American (Somerset, PA), 18 Jan. 1952, p. 2.

"Suffrage Demands Sacrifice." The Evening Missourian, 23 January 1916, p. 1.,

"Suffragists Doing Active Work Here." The Daily Notes, 13 June 1914, p. 1.,

"Suffragists Oppose Dr. Sprowls." The Daily Republican, 16 May 1918, p. 4.,

back to top