Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Nellie Holyland Cromwell, 1873-1962

By Amanda Ritter-Maggio, Associate Professor of English, Texarkana College, Texarkana, TX

Recording Secretary, Maryland State Woman Suffrage Association

Nellie Holyland Cromwell was born in Maryland in 1873 to Thomas E. and Hannah Louise "Fannie" Holyland Cromwell. Her father worked as a gunsmith, and as a child, her extended household included her younger siblings Frances "Fannie" and Elvin, her English grandmother, Harriet E. Holyland, her aunt Hattie, and Hattie's two children.

Nellie graduated third in her class from Western Female High School in Baltimore in 1892 and was awarded a Peabody Medal at her graduation ceremony. She never married but worked as a primary school teacher in the city of Baltimore for several decades. Nellie was also an active member and frequent public speaker in the Baltimore City Primary Union as well as the Woman's Baptist Society of Maryland. It was in the latter organization that Nellie met suffrage activist Emma Maddox Funck, who served as president of the Maryland State Woman Suffrage Association from 1904-1920. In 1916, Nellie was elected that organization's recording secretary.

In 1917, Nellie was elected an alternate in a newly-formed Baltimore teachers' council, an organization which united the city's teachers' unions with the goal of "represent[ing] the entire teaching force of the city when presenting matters to the Board of School Commissioners."

Around 1935, Nellie and her sister Frances began wintering in Florida, and a few years later, they decided to retire from teaching and real estate, respectively, and relocate to Florida permanently. There, they remained active in ladies' missionary work by joining the Woman's Missionary Union at the First Baptist Church in Fort Meyers. The sisters served in various offices within the organization and frequently entertained speakers, book discussion groups, and special programs in their home. Nellie Cromwell died in Florida in December 1962.


"All Teachers Join Forces." The Baltimore Sun, 11 January 1917, p. 12., and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 United States Federal Manuscript Census listings for households of Nellie Cromwell. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998, death record for Nellie H. Cromwell, Dec. 1962.

"Farewell to Study." The Baltimore Sun, 24 June 1892.,

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 August 2021), memorial page for Hannah Louise "Fannie" Holyland Cromwell (Oct 1847-19 Dec 1919), Find a Grave Memorial ID 219005875, citing Lorraine Park Cemetery, Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by James Harrison Turner (contributor 47057487).

"Funeral Notices." Tampa Bay Times 24 December 1962.,

The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6. Ed. Ida Husted Harper. New York: Little and Ives, 1922 [LINK].

"Home Mission Workers." The Baltimore Sun 22 April 1898.,

"Sisters Purchase Home." Tampa Bay Times, 29 October 1939.,

"Suffragists Name Officers." The Baltimore Sun, 08 January 1916, p. 8.,

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