Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Beatrice Miller, 1883-?

By Laurie Matthews Coady, Washington, D.C.

Beatrice Miller was a Black suffragist in Chicago, where Ida Wells-Barnett was president of the Alpha Suffrage Club. In 1913, Beatrice Miller celebrated the passage of the Suffrage Bill in Illinois, along with Ida Wells-Barnett and others, with a "big automobile parade" that included "a hundred or more decorated automobiles with "five large touring cars bearing the members and friends of the Alpha Suffrage Club." Women "carried flags, banners and emblems and together with the elaborate costumes of the women, made quite a gala appearance." [Alpha Suffrage Club, July 5, 1913, p. 1, col 3].

Katora Beatrice Bulger was born in Ohio in 1883, with mother Josephine and father's name unknown. She had two brothers, William and Horace. The 1910 Census shows Beatrice Miller, age 26, newly married to Robert M. Miller, and living with him at East 4th St, Chicago Ward 2, Cook County, Illinois. Both are Black and are literate. She lists no occupation; her husband's occupation is listed as a stationary fireman.

According to the 1910 Census, Beatrice's father was born in Pennsylvania, and her mother in Canada. Her maiden name appears in various official records as Katoria (or Keturia) Bulger. Cook County marriage records show that on Feb 21,1910, Keturia Bulger married Robert M. Miller.

By 1920, the Census reports that Beatrice and Robert Miller resided at 3332 Forest Avenue, Chicago, ward 2. They rented their home, and had 10 other household members, all identified as "roomers." She was a clerk at the Post Office and he had a job, possibly as a water tender/carrier at the stock yards. A 1917 draft registration card also shows Robert Melvin Miller residing at 3332 Forest Avenue, Cook County, Chicago, Ill. His nearest relative is Beatrice Miller.

By the time of the 1930 census, Beatrice and her husband owned their home, at 3550 So. Parkway, Cook County, Chicago, and had two other household members, who are "lodgers." The home was valued at $5,000; and the family had a radio set. She was a bookkeeper in an Insurance office. His occupation was water tender for steam boilers.

I've not found any additional references to Beatrice's activity as a suffragist, but she did get mentioned occasionally in the Chicago Defender newspaper. In 1914, the Eureka Art Club held a "progressive luncheon" on Feb. 5, with Beatrice Miller as one of the special guests. She gave an address to the attendees. (The menu included oyster cocktail, consommé, broiled red snapper, individual ice creams, and cake.) The festivities included a piano solo, whist, and dancing. [Chicago Defender, Feb 21. 1914, p. 8] In 1915, members of the Volunteer Workers' Club were set to meet in the home of Beatrice Miller, 3332 Forest Avenue, on Feb. 17. [Chicago Defender, Feb. 13, 1915] In 1916, she was on the board of directors of the newly reorganized

Jane Ridley Home for Old Soldiers' Wives. The paper reported that the home had been reorganized on a business basis and was expected to be helped by some of the charities of the city. [Chicago Defender, Nov. 25, 1916, p. 4]

In 1935, Mrs. Beatrice Miller was elected the corresponding secretary of the Illinois State Housewives at their annual meeting, which included more than 200 people at the various sessions. The program included not only a demonstration of Westinghouse home appliances and a cake baking contest, but also a speaker on child study and parent education; a report of a recent conference on Negro history; a review of women in business, including a representative of a beauty school and several corsetiers; and a speaker from the American Association against Fascism, who presented "a most vivid picture of the situation which we are facing today in the world." [Chicago Defender, Nov. 2, 1935, p. 6]

Beatrice also apparently remained in contact with her family. In 1923, the Chicago Defender reports that Beatrice Miller attended a grand family reunion for the relatives of Dr. John Thomas Harvey of Indian Territory. They met at 4215 St. Lawrence Avenue and celebrated with a seven-course dinner. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. Wm. L. Buldger, Mr. and Mrs. Horace W. Buldger, Miss Mildred Buldger, and Master Harold Buldger. Also present was Mrs. Josephine Harvey-Hopkins. [Chicago Defender, Sept. 29, 1923, p. 8]

In 1935, the Chicago Defender published a card of thanks from the family of the late Josephine E. Hopkins, of Crawfordsville, Ind., expressing appreciation to Chicago friends for their telegrams and letters of sympathy, and especially to those who motored to Crawfordsville and attended the funeral service. The thanks are signed by Kay Beatrice Miller, daughter, and William and Horace Buldger, sons. [Chicago Defender, Nov. 2, 1935, p. 23]

No death record has been located for Beatrice Miller.


Federal manuscript censuses, Chicago, 1910-1930.

Cook County marriage records, Robert M. Miller and Ketura Bulger, 1910 accessible via Ancestry Library Edition.

Chicago Defender articles as noted in flow of the sketch. Accessible via the subscription database, ProQuest Black Studies Center.


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