We celebrated suffragist “sheroes”
We commemorated the valiant women who fought for the vote by shining a light on long-forgotten Maryland suffragists and telling their stories. MWHC volunteer researchers and writers:
- Assembled the most comprehensive collection of biographies about Maryland’s suffragists to date.
- Produced a traveling exhibit that features notable suffragists from around the state. In the face of the pandemic, we also created an online version. The portable exhibit is available for events and presentations.
- Researched and recorded Valiant Maryland Women; The Fight for the Vote, 28 podcasts that tell the story of Maryland suffragists and other statewide leaders, with funding and technical assistance from Preservation Maryland. The series won the Excellence in Media & Publications award from Maryland Historical Trust.
We moved to a new exhibit and small meeting place in a landmark Baltimore building
After operating virtually for several years, MWHC moved into the historic Marian House/Woman’s Industrial Exchange (WIE) building in December 2020. Founded in 1880, WIE helped craftswomen discreetly earn a living and operated at 333 N. Charles Street in various forms until June, 2020. Both the building’s owner, Marian House, and MWHC serve women and now carry the WIE’s spirit into the future. On August 26, 2021, we observed Women’s Equality Day with an inaugural open house, with invited guest only due to COVID restrictions. See photos.
We memorialized Maryland’s suffragists with new historical markers
MWHC has taken the lead to bring about more historical markers that commemorate suffragists than in any other state in the country. Funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation the markers are located in
- Baltimore City, where neighbors Augusta Chissell and Margaret Hawkins organized fought for suffrage and other rights in their Druid Hill adjoining homes
- Goucher College, where students travelled to Washington DC to support votes for women, despite the admonitions of the college president
- Sandy Spring Museum, near where Quakers Mary Bentley Thomas and Caroline Hallowell Miller led suffrage movements in Montgomery County
- Havre de Grace’s Tyding Park, the site where Elizabeth Chew Forbes and other Harford suffragists welcomed the Prairie Schooner Campaign, which travelled the area to publicize the suffragist cause
These markers put Maryland on the map as part of the National Collaboration of Women’s History sites and the Votes for Women Trail. Additional markers are expected for future installation in Talbot, Frederick and Howard counties as well as MWHC’s new location in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood.
In the wake of COVID-19, we moved most events to cyberspace
- (February 2020) Amending America: How Women Won the Vote
A live presentation by Kate Campbell Stevenson, MWHC board member and Cultural Ambassador. Music and narratives brought several influential American women to life. Location: Silver Spring Civic Center
- (September 2020) The Grit Factor: Virtual Conversation with Shannon Huffman Polson
A conversation with Shannon Huffman Polson who is a leader, helicopter pilot, veteran, speaker, writer, and inspiring woman with a message for all.
- (October 2020) Celebrating Sadie J. Crockin, (In partnership with The Jewish Museum of Maryland) Presenter: Sadie’s granddaughter-in-law and MWHC Board Member, Sally T. Grant
- (November 2020) Lavender Menace: Breaking Barriers in The Women’s Liberation Movement featured Allison and Parker, seniors at Westminster High School, with their historical documentary about Lavender Menace and its effect on both the gay and women’s rights movements.
We appeared on TV, in the press and social media
MWHC’s executive director and board members appeared on television, radio and online programs. These included MPT “Freeview” session of The Vote; a Facebook Live program for the Montgomery Commission for Women; Voting Rights program presented to Women in Transition; Maryland Commission for Women Equality Day; Daily Record “Women who Lead.”
The MWHC and volunteer and Board member Ida Jones facilitated the nomination to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame for Margaret Gregory Hawkins, an African American suffragist from West Baltimore.
In 2022, we will proceed with annual campaigns, new events, social media outreach, sponsorships, donations and special events in our exhibit space at 333 N. Charles Street. Help us move forward with a donation or planned gift.
We worked to stay financially solvent during one of the most challenging times for nonprofits in history
A coordinated pandemic response
When the pandemic brought the world to a stop, we cancelled long-planned public events. Part-time staff worked many unpaid hours to pivot to virtual programs. Though we have always relied heavily on volunteers, their contributions of both time and money were unprecedented during this sudden crisis. Board members also donated personal funds. Several conducted fundraising campaigns on social media.
Nevertheless, short- and long-term financial impacts were immediate. We lost most projected revenue and donations. We did not initially charge for online programs, in an attempt to promote attendance. Eventually, we were successful in raising some funds this way.
By Spring 2020, we temporarily cut staff paid hours. However, work hours, especially those devoted to fundraising and grant writing, increased. They were necessary for survival.
Grants, relief funds and donations
We applied for all grants for which we were eligible and are grateful for those awarded from Maryland Humanities, Small Business Administration, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Baltimore National Heritage Area. However, to stay viable, it was necessary to access funds in a savings account that was intended for investment, building upgrades and new exhibits.
Extraordinary board member and volunteer response
With these supports, as well as many hours of unpaid labor from staff, board members and volunteers, we have made some basic improvements in the Marian House/Woman’s Industrial Exchange event space and other program priorities.
Our challenges remain. We now pay rent and utilities at Marian House/Woman’s Industrial Exchange. Various nonprofit operational expenses remain constant. However, we see all of this as a sound investment in the future, as the space will allow for higher visibility, expanded programming and more fundraising opportunities.
MWHC and our board of directors remain committed to balancing our mission of celebrating Maryland’s women with sound fiscal practices and proactive fundraising.
We are grateful to those who supported us this year with their time, talents and monetary donations.
At this time, all donations will support upcoming programming as well as MWHC enhancements at Marian House/Woman’s Industrial Exchange.
Your legacy donations will help us build an enduring future for the MarylandWomen’s Heritage Center. To make arrangements for this, contact Executive Director Diana Bailey: [email protected] or 443-996-1788.