Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Helen Brandebury Harvey, 1893-1984

By Bria Allen, Nicholas Bulik, Sarah Crayton, and Alexus Krause, Undergraduate students, California University of Pennsylvania

Helen Gertrude Brandebury (appears as Brandeburg in some sources) was born on September 28, 1893 in Huntington, West Virginia to Henry and Ida Brandebury. Dr. Henry Brandebury was a physician in Huntington, operating a medical practice during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He was politically active, serving as the mayor of Huntington for two terms between 1899 and 1901 and on the city council and the citizens' board of Huntington. Dr. Brandebury was also the first chairman of a Cabell county executive committee of the Progressive Party. He owned a dairy farm in Lawrence county, Ohio. Helen's mother, Ida Brandebury, graduated from Rio Grande College in 1883 and then, two years later, graduated from Hillsdale College. After graduating, she taught music and German.

In 1915, Helen married Thomas W. Harvey, Sr. According to information from the Harvey Family Papers, a special collection at Marshall University, Thomas Harvey was "a husband, a father of three (Helen, Thomas Jr., and Ida), an attorney, real estate mogul, and a candidate for mayor and sheriff." After getting married, Helen changed her middle name from Gertrude to Brandebury thereafter going by Helen B. Harvey. Together, the couple had three children. In 1941, Thomas took his life, leaving his wife and three children behind.

Helen Brandebury attended the University of Michigan. In the 1914 yearbook, she appeared several times, one of which is under the "Literary Seniors." The yearbook also highlighted her involvement in various activities. She was in the cast of the Comedy Club's presentation of "The Scarecrow," an executive board member of the Women's League, a member and 1913 President of Omega Phi, and a member of Collegiate Sorosis. While in school, she was also chairman of the executive committee in charge of the Joan of Arc pageant. There is also documentation of Helen being a speaker at the 1914 Lit Feast, the biggest informal social event for those in her class.

Helen Harvey then attended Marshall University, which was named Marshall College at the time. While in college, she was part of the executive board of the Women's League. She obtained her Master's degree, doing her thesis on England's Lady Falkland, England's first female playwright. Later, she earned her Ph.D. She returned to Marshall University as a professor in the English Department until 1959, when she retired.

Mrs. Harvey was active in various political spheres, one of which was the suffrage movement. One way this presented itself was at the state convention of the Equal Suffrage Association that was held in Huntington on November 16, 1915. She, along with a woman by the name of Dr. Irene Bullard, pledged $1,000 for each of the association's branches. However, her activism did not end there, as she was part of other organizations. including the Y.M.C.A and the Newspapers International Association. As the chairman of the Woman's Forum of the YWCA and was able to get the movie "The River" (1938) produced by the Farm Security Administration and directed by West Virginia native Pare Lorentz, screened in Huntington. She was also active in the American Association of University Women, which gave her the opportunity to be on a panel to talk to the Parent Teachers Association of East High about "How to Choose a College". She was the president of the PTA and president of a chapter of the League of Women Voters. She and her daughter Ida were also active in politics during WWII.

Helen Harvey passed away at the age of 90, on December 29, 1984. She was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia.


1900 U.S. Census, Huntington Ward 2, Cabell, West Virginia, p. 15, Enumeration District 12. Digital Images.

1910 U.S. Census, Huntington Ward 2, Cabell, West Virginia, p. 5B, Enumeration District 24. Digital Images.

1920 U.S. Census, Huntington Ward 6, Cabell, West Virginia, p. 7, Enumeration District 36. Digital Images.

Bapst, Jacob L. and Ivan M. Tribe. University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2017.

Helen "Mrs. Thomas" Brandebury Harvey Papers. Marshal University Special Collections, Series II, Harvey Family Papers, 1897-1958, Boxes 2 and 3.

"Ida H. Wallace." Washington Post, May 13, 2012.

"Lippincott Will Preside at 1914 Lit Feast at Union." The Michigan Daily . December 16, 1913.

"Memorial page for Helen Brandebury Harvey." Find a Grave. Accessed October 29, 2020.

Miller, Thomas Condit, and Hu Maxwell. West Virginia and Its People. Vol. 2. New York: Lewis Historical, 1913. .

Report of Committee on Reform of the League of Nations Covenant. Committee report. 1938. Helen "Mrs. Thomas" Brandebury Harvey Papers. Marshal University Special Collections, Series II, Harvey Family Papers, 1897-1958, Box 2, Folder 2.

Stylus, ed. "Of Interest to Women." The Michigan Daily. October 25, 1913.

Stylus, ed. "Of Interest to Women." The Michigan Daily. December 13, 1913.

University of Michigan, Michiganensian. Ann Arbor, MI: Graduating Class of 1914, 1914.

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