By Amy Rosenkrans, Ph.D., Maryland Women’s Heritage Center volunteer
Josephine Lee was born on February 20, 1879 in Baltimore to Columbus O’Donnell Lee and Hannah Anne Tyson Lee.
She descended from two prominent Maryland families. Her great grandfather, Thomas Lee, was Maryland’s Governor during the American Revolution. Another great-grandfather, Captain John O’Donnell, was a successful Baltimore businessman, one of the first Americans to establish trade with China. O’Donnell also founded Baltimore’s Canton area.
After her 1897 debut, the Baltimore Sun called Lee “one of the most popular girls in Baltimore.” As such, Ms. Lee was active in the Baltimore social scene. She chaired fundraising committees for charities, arranged dance classes and hosted Lenten season subscription dances.
Ms. Lee was also an avid tennis player at the Baltimore Country Club where she both organized and participated in tournaments. She also volunteered at the Vacation Lodge, a summer home for working girls from Baltimore.
Ms. Lee married William Miles Chatard on September 27, 1917 in a small Baltimore ceremony. Cardinal Gibbons blessed the new couple. They welcomed a daughter, Josephine Lee Chatard, in 1920.
Advocacy for suffrage and voter education
After her marriage, Mrs. Chatard became active in Baltimore’s suffrage movement. In February 1918, she hosted a luncheon in honor of suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt at Baltimore’s Merchants Club. Later that year, Mrs. Chatard was the Hospitality and Entertainment Committee chair for the First Annual State Convention of the Woman’s Suffrage League of Maryland. By 1919, she was secretary of the Equal Suffrage League of Maryland.
Education for new voters
Chatard continued in the women’s movement after the passage of the 19th Amendment. As secretary of the League of Women Voters, she sat on the advisory council for the Citizenship School for new women voters, established in 1921. She also coordinated fundraising for the organization.
Mrs. Chatard died November 18, 1958 in Baltimore. She is buried in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery.