Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ellen Louise Corwin, 1846-1932

By Jenny Nguyen, Student, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California

Ellen Louise Collins was born on August 5, 1846, in Corinth, Vermont. Her father was Lyman Hinsman Eliot Collins, (1808-1849) and her mother was Mary Laverne Heath Collins (1812-1867). On March 1, 1865, she married Dr. Marcus Hubbard Corwin in Corinth, Vermont. Dr. Corwin was born in 1839, in Chelsea, Vermont where he received his education at Chelsea academy, and graduated from Dartmouth Medical College in June 1863. During the same year, Dr. Corwin began his practice as a physician at Cookville, a town located in Corinth. Over the seventeen years of residing in Corinth, Ellen and Marcus H. Corwin raised three children, Carl Henry Corwin (1866-1952), Lucy Ellen Corwin (1867-1913), and Alice Louise Corwin (1879-1965).

In 1880, Ellen and her children moved to Chelsea, Vermont due to relocation of her husband's medical practice. In the same year, Ellen and her family became members of the Congregational Church. Carl Henry Corwin graduated from Chelsea Academy, Dartmouth College in 1877 as well as Chicago Theological Seminary in 1895, and settled at Kaukauna, Wisconsin as a pastor. Lucy Ellen Corwin married Walter Hovey Emery in October 1890 and had 2 daughters. Alice Louise Corwin was a student at Chelsea Academy and eventually married Millard Fleming George in August 1908.

Records of Ellen L. Corwin's suffrage activities still survive. For instance, she served on the executive board of Vermont Women's Suffrage Association in 1883, was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, became president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1898, and became vice-president of the Ladies' Benevolent Society of the Congregational Church in the same year. Although Ellen L. Corwin participated in several religious/suffrage organizations, she was most active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). According to the 1898 and 1899 reports of a WCTU committee, efforts of the organization included combating the influence of alcohol on families as well as society, engaging in communities to spread the knowledge of non-alcoholic treatments, and encouraging the public to support the prohibition law of Vermont. The reports also included the incorporation of scientific temperance instructions in schools, teaching children the detrimental effects of using tobacco, and cooperating with the Anti-Saloon League in the enforcement of prohibition laws.

Ellen's suffrage activities continued for the next four years after becoming president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1898. On April 12, 1898, Ellen petitioned the Committee on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, a standing committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, to establish a bill that forbade the sale of alcoholic liquors in government buildings. She also petitioned the Committee on the District of Columbia to amend a bill in which the age of consent for girls would be raised to eighteen years in the District of Columbia. Additionally, she petitioned the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce to enact legislation that protected the State's anti-cigarette laws and prohibited the interstate distribution of lottery ticket messages (gambling information) through telegraph. After petitioning to the U.S. House of Representatives, WCTU members presented Ellen with a large framed portrait of Miss Frances Willard, who was an American educator, a suffragist, and long-time WCTU president. Ellen's last known suffrage activity was on October 28, 1902, when she petitioned the Vermont Senate to grant women municipal and presidential suffrage. Ellen also petitioned to preserve Vermont's prohibition law and to allow women of legal age to vote on all referendums.

Dr. Marcus H. Corwin died in May 1916, leaving Ellen L. Corwin a widow at the age of 70. After the death of her husband, Ellen's barn and house was destroyed by a fire in June 1925. After losing her house to the fire, she moved in with her daughter, Alice L. George who lived with her husband. While residing in her daughter's home, Ellen fell ill and her two children (Carl Henry Corwin and Alice Louise George) cared for her in her declining years. After suffering from a long-term illness of angina pectoris (coronary heart disease), Ellen L. Corwin died at her home in Chelsea village on Sunday, April 3, 1932. Her funeral was held at the Congregational church on the 5th of April 1932. She was buried at the Highland Cemetery of Chelsea, Vermont.


"Death of Mrs. Ellen L. Corwin." The Bethel Courier (Bethel, VT), April 7, 1932.

31 Cong. Rec. 3770 (Apr. 12, 1898) (statement of E. L. Corwin).

"Chelsea Home News." Herald and News (West Randolph, VT), June 9, 1898. "

"Chelsea Home News." Herald and News (West Randolph, VT), April 21, 1898.

"Chelsea Suffers Disastrous Fire." Herald and News (Randolph, VT), June 4, 1925.

"Placid Chelsea." Herald and News (West Randolph, VT), December 5, 1895.

Journal of the Senate of the State of Vermont: Biennial Session, 1902 Gen. Assem. (Vt. ).

"Women's Suffrage Association Officers." St. Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, VT), June 9, 1903.

History of Woman Suffrage: edited by Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, Vol. IV: 1883-1900. Hollenbeck Press, 1902.

"Ellen L. Corwin." The United Opinion (Bradford, VT), April 15, 1932.

"W.C.T.U." The United Opinion (Bradford, VT), June 3, 1899.

"Chelsea." The Vermont Watchman (Montpelieer, VT), February 2, 1898.

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