Biographical Sketch of Geraldine Livingston Morgan Thompson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Geraldine Livingston Morgan (Mrs. Lewis S.) Thompson, 1872-1967

By Kristin Brammell Burke, President, League of Women Voters of Camden County, NJ

Benefactor of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association's Finance Committee for the Ratification Campaign in 1919; Founder and President, Monmouth County Organization for Social Service; Member, Board of Control, Department of Institutions and Agencies; "First Lady of Monmouth County"

Geraldine Livingston Morgan was born March 2, 1872 in New York City, daughter of William Dare Morgan and Angelica Livingston Hoyt Morgan. She grew up near Hyde Park, where she became friends with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his cousin Eleanor, whom she would later entertain at her home on occasion.

Geraldine was introduced to Lewis S. Thompson in 1896; they were married that year and moved to Brookdale Farm, a thoroughbred horse farm in Lincroft (Middletown), Monmouth County, New Jersey owned by Lewis's parents. Lewis and Geraldine had four children, and also cared for four nieces and nephews after deaths in the family.

Geraldine became highly involved in political activism and social welfare. In 1912, she founded the county branch of the State Charities Aid and Prison Reform Association, which would become the Monmouth County Organization for Social Service (MCOSS). MCOSS was a volunteer public health nursing agency, and provided a variety of healthcare and other services in the community. Through MCOSS, Geraldine led the campaign to establish the County Tuberculosis Hospital (1914), the hiring of the first Public Health Nurse (1916), and numerous other social welfare efforts in the years that followed. In 1918 she was appointed to the newly formed Board of Control, Department of Institutions and Agencies, which was created to oversee agencies such as MCOSS.

While it does not seem she was an active member of any state or local woman suffrage organizations, in 1919 Thompson was a major benefactor of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association's Finance Committee for the Ratification Campaign, which raised $10,000. In 1927, she said of the women's suffrage movement, "Great good has come of suffrage.... Women have taken the cover off pretty nearly everything in political procedure. That is woman's nature. She is always opening packages. She has disclosed what is happening in politics as it has never been disclosed before." In 1923 she became the first woman from New Jersey to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and for three decades she would attend every convention.

In addition to her own personal efforts to be a champion of various social causes, she sought to instill a sense of civic responsibility in those around her, particularly young people. "In order to have democracy you have to work at it and fight for it day and night, or it will slip away from you." Her support of prison reform, education, public health, and land conservation, including preserving Island Beach as a state park, brought her numerous honors and led many people to call her the "First Lady of Monmouth County" and "New Jersey's First Lady."

In 1952, at the age of 80, stepped down as president of MCOSS to focus on her role on the state Board of Control, including improvement of state hospitals and penal institutions. Her interest in civic life and social welfare never seemed to waver, and she maintained a public profile deep into her twilight years. She served on the Board of Control until 1957 when she became a member emeritus, and she continued to attend their meetings until her death.

Geraldine Livingston Morgan Thompson died at Brookdale Farm on September 9, 1967. She bequeathed 215 acres of her Brookdale Farm estate to Monmouth County, with the county then establishing the 667-acre Thompson Park in 1968. Geraldine is buried St. James's Episcopal Churchyard in Hyde Park, NY.

SOURCES:

Zink, Clifford W. and The Friends of the Monmouth County Park System, The Monmouth County Park System: The First Fifty Years, (2010), pages 94-97 https://www.monmouthcountyparks.com/page.aspx?ID=4160

Zink, Clifford W., Discover History in the Parks: Brookdale Farm in Thompson Park, (Friends of the Monmouth County Park System, Princeton, NJ, 2016), http://co.monmouth.nj.us/documents/130%5Cthompson_park_dhittp_series_spring_2016.pdf Accessed 2/23/19.

Husted, Ida H. History of Woman Suffage 1900-1920, vol 6, (New York: J.J. Little & Ives Company, 1922), pg. 428. https://books.google.com/books?id=l84TAAAAIAAJ

"Mrs. Thompson, at 80, to Wage Campaign for Social Progress." Asbury Park Press, November 30, 1952, page 1 and 8.

Monmouth County Clerk. County Records, RECORD SERIES #: 9200.02, Monmouth County Organization for Social Service (MCOSS), Annual Reports, DATES: 1921-1944. https://www.monmouthcountyclerk.com/archives/record-groups/other-county-records/organization-for-social-service-1921-1944/. Accessed 2/23/19.

"Thompson Services Private." The Daily Record, September 11, 1967, Page 1.

History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 6 (1922) P 438.

"Committeewoman Tells Why Dishonest Politics Made Her Resign." Bugbee, E. New York Herald Tribune, October 23, 1927. As cited in A Triangle of Land.

The Northern Monmouth County Branch of the American Association of University Women, A Triangle of Land: A History of the Site, Founding, and Progress of Brookdale Community College. (Brookdale Community College, ©1978 and 2005), ages 26-43. https://www.brookdalecc.edu/documents/design-production/a-triangle-of-land.pdf. Accessed 2/23/19.

"Geraldine Thompson - A Lifetime of Dedication and Service." The Daily Register, January 26, 1965, Page 9.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18151545/geraldine-livingston-thompson. Accessed 2/23/19.

2 Images Attached

IMAGE

 

Photo of Geraldine Livingston Morgan Thompson

Date Unknown

Source: A Triangle of Land: A History of the Site, Founding, and Progress of Brookdale Community College

IMAGE

 

Geraldine Livingston Morgan Thompson

1930s

Source: A Triangle of Land: A History of the Site, Founding, and Progress of Brookdale Community College

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