Biography of Margaret Holmes Sisson Chambers, 1894-1983This biographical sketch of Margaret Holmes Sisson Chambers first appeared on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by courtesy of the publisher, Alexander Street.
By Clara Hartman Brooke and Carol Pierce Undergraduate Research Fellow, Goucher College
Suffragist, labor organizer
Margaret Holmes Sisson was born April 27, 1894. Her parents were John Baird Sisson and Matti V. Wrenn. She had three brothers and one sister.
She attended Bryn Mawr Preparatory School in Baltimore before matriculating at Goucher College in 1912. At Goucher her fellow students teasingly wrote that “when Margaret came to college she came with the idea of doing good work, but not doing one other thing.” At Goucher she became involved in the College Equal Suffrage League and was appointed organizer to the first district in East Baltimore. She graduated from the college in 1916.
After graduation Margaret went to work as corresponding secretary for the Just Government League, the Baltimore suffrage organization led by Edith Houghton Hooker. Her activities included organizing Goucher and Johns Hopkins Medical students to participate in suffrage actions like poll pamphleteering.
On January 14, 1917, Margaret participated in a “Maryland Day” suffrage picket outside the White House organized by the Congressional Union. On March 3, 1917, she, with members of the Just Government League and students from Goucher College, returned to Washington D.C. for another picket. A newspaper quoted Margaret as proud to do her “bit.”
On April 15, 1917 Margaret made a third trip to the White House as part of a delegation of Baltimore suffragists petitioning President Wilson to telegraph Maryland Governor Harrington an appeal for including women’s suffrage in the upcoming session of the legislature.
After the start of World War I Margaret went to work as a stenographer for the Expeditionary Depot in Baltimore. In 1918 she began work as secretary to the secretary of the Mercantile Trust & Deposit Company in Baltimore.
She married Dr. Thomas Chambers in 1922 after the death of her sister (his former wife) Martha in 1919. They raised three children: one son and two daughters. Her daughter, Margaret Virginia Chambers, followed in her mother’s footsteps and graduated from Goucher College in 1944.
Margaret died in November 1983 having lived in Baltimore her entire life.
Details of Margaret’s early life are found in the Office of the Dean of Students Records (Special Collections & Archives, Goucher College Library). Her college years are documented in The Weekly, the college newspaper, and Donnybrook Fair, the college yearbook. Information about her work with the Just Government League and life after Goucher can be found in articles in The Sun between 1916 and 1918, Bulletin of Goucher College (Baltimore: Goucher College, 1929), census data from 1930 and 1940, and Goucher Alumnae Quarterly (Baltimore: The Alumnae Association of Goucher College, 1944).