Biographical Sketch of Maria Louisa Trenholm Hidden

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Maria Louisa Trenholm Hidden, 1847-1924

By Beth Kanell, author, Waterford, Vermont

President, Vermont Woman Suffrage Association; State agent for Vermont, New England Woman Suffrage Association; and Vice-President ex officio,American Woman Suffrage Association

Maria Louisa Trenholm was born June 15, 1847, in Trenholm, Quebec, Canada, to an English father and Irish mother. In 1867 Maria Trenholm married a storekeeper, Jackson Hidden (1832-1912), and they resided in Craftsbury, Vermont. Unusual for her time, she used the married name "Mrs. M. L. T. Hidden" rather than what would have been customary, "Mrs. J. Hidden." The couple had four children, including Edward Trenholm (1868-1893), Reginald (1870-1948), Maurice (1873-1901), and Beatrice, (1878-1965).#x200e

In 1883, Maria Hidden agreed to be a correspondent for the New England Woman Suffrage Association. She was tasked with reviving a Vermont suffrage association, which had had a brief life after the campaign of 1870. Illinois suffragist, Hannah Tracy Cutler, came to Vermont to provide a series of relevant lectures. On November 8 and 9, 1883, a convention gathered in St. Johnsbury and was attended by the editors of the Woman's Journal, Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell, as well as Julia Ward Howe of Massachusetts. The convention formed the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association with Maria L.T. Hidden as its first president.

As president in Vermont, Maria Hidden reported local successes to the New England Suffrage Association as early as May 1884. Historian Deborah P. Clifford highlighted the significance of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to the suffrage effort in Vermont. Clifford quoted Hidden: "No sooner do [temperance women] make a special effort for the suppression of intemperance than they are brought face to face with the fact that all their efforts to save men or to accomplish any good are being hindered for lack of power." Thus, WCTU membership was a "stepping stone to suffrage." Clifford noted some success in support for municipal suffrage: In November 1884, a suffrage petition with 3,178 signatories arrived at the Vermont House. However, opposition grew, and Maria Hidden saw the bill defeated, 113 to 69. On the national level, when the American Woman Suffrage Association met in Chicago in November 1884, Maria Hidden was named a vice-president ex officio on behalf of Vermont. She also contributed to the 1886 edition of The Woman Suffrage Cook Book.

In 1884, Maria Hidden served as the superintendent of the Sabbath School Work Department for the WCTU of Vermont. In this role, she travelled around the state to ensure towns in every county organized WCTU groups, often under the Youth Temperance Banner.

By 1890, the Hidden family moved to Vancouver, Washington. Maria Hidden visited Vermont in 1896 and took her daughter Beatrice to Canada for a visit to Maria Hidden's mother, who died in 1898. The 1900 census confirmed the family's residence in Vancouver. However, by 1910 they were living in Portland, Oregon. Here, Maria Hidden had substantial influence in the suffrage movement, becoming a leader of the WCTU in Portland, which collaborated with the Portland Equal Suffrage League and Portland College League. She presented a report on behalf of Everybody's Equal Suffrage League, Oregon, at the 1911 national suffrage convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1913, Maria Hidden ran an unsuccessful campaign to be Portland City Commissioner. She also lost three attempts to be the state representative from Multnomah County in 1914, 1916, and 1918. In 1920, she ran to be the delegate to the Democratic National Convention for the state at large, and she won. Hidden organized an Oregon League of Women Voters (LWV) in 1920 as a nonpartisan group that would work with the national league. Mary Alice Moore and Donald Moore, Oregon LWV historians, described the early years of Oregon's association transition from suffrage to the league as contentious. They reported that Maria Hidden criticized the National Woman's Party, and it was her league that fizzled while the other thrived.

Maria L.T. Hidden died on May 30, 1924, in Portland and was buried in Old Vancouver City Cemetery.


Burr, Hattie, ed. The Woman Suffrage Cook Book, 2nd ed. Boston: Hattie Burr, 1886. Feeding America Collection, Digital Repository, Michigan State University Libraries.

Clifford, Deborah P. "The Drive for Women's Municipal Suffrage in Vermont 1883-1917." Vermont History 47, no 3 (Summer 1979), 173-90.

Find a Grave. Maria Louisa Trenholm Hidden. Posted December 19, 2008.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "Oregon," chapter 36 in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 50-567. [LINK]

Harper, Ida Husted and Susan B. Anthony, eds. "Vermont," chapter 67 in History of Woman Suffrage, vol.4: 1883-1900. Rochester, NY: Privately published, 1902, pp.1137-1143. [LINK]

Hidden, Maria L.T. "Sunday School Work." In Minutes of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Vermont Held in Middlebury, September 16th, 17th and 18th, 1884, pp.44-47. St. Johnsbury, VT: C.M. Stone and Co., 1884. GoogleBooks.

Moore, Mary Alice, and Donald E. Moore. More Power Than We Knew: The League of Women Voters in Oregon 1920-1995. Salem, OR: League of Women Voters of Oregon, 2010.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. Forty-Third Annual Report...Given at the Convention Held at Louisville, KY, October 19-25. New York: NAWSA, 1911.

United States Census, 1870, 1880, s.v. "Maria Hidden, Craftsbury, Orleans, VT." Ancestry Library.

United States Census, 1900, s.v. "Maria Hidden, Vancouver, Clark, WA." Ancestry Library.

United States Census, 1910, 1920, s.v. "Maria Hidden, Portland, Multnomah, OR." Ancestry Library.

US Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Reginald L. Hidden, issued March 25, 1895. Ancestry Library.

Vermont, Vital Records,1720-1908. Reginald Loomis Hidden, born April 26, 1870, Craftsbury. Ancestry Library.

Also see coverage in regional newspapers: Orleans County (Barton, VT) Monitor; St. Johnsbury Caledonian (VT);Herald and News (Randolph, VT); and Green-Mountain Freeman (Montpelier, VT).

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