This biographical sketch of Rebecca Thomas Miller 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.
Biography of Rebecca Thomas Miller, 1864-1949
By Maggie Loughlin, undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park
Attended first meeting of the Maryland Woman’s Suffrage Association (MWSA), prolific suffrage writer
Rebecca Thomas Miller was born on February 1, 1864, in Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. Her parents were Sarah B. Thomas and Benjamin Hallowell Miller. Her two sisters were Elizabeth Porter Miller Thom and Martha Thomas Miller. Rebecca Miller also had a large extended family including Caroline Hallowell Miller, who introduced Rebecca Miller to the suffrage movement.
Caroline Miller founded the Maryland Woman’s Suffrage Association (MWSA) in 1889, and Rebecca Miller attended the first meeting. She took on several leadership positions within the MWSA, including chair of the resolutions committee, chair of reporters, member of the constitution revision committee, and representative at national conventions. Miller was also elected vice-president of the MWSA in 1895. Miller’s activism was not limited to MWSA. She also served on the executive committee at the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1891. Additionally, Miller served as the recording secretary of the Maryland Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, an organization through which many women came to support the suffrage cause.
Beyond her numerous local suffrage pursuits, Rebecca Miller also contributed to several national suffrage publications, including the Woman’s Journal, to which Miller occasionally sent corrections; the New Voter, for which Miller was an advisory and contributing editor; Progress, to which Miller contributed; Justina, to which Miller donated; and the Suffragist, to which Miller contributed.
Miller was not formally employed, but she participated in several non-suffrage related community groups and occasionally gave lectures. One of the organizations with which Miller was closely affiliated was the Friends Equal Rights Association. This association was a national philanthropic organization, which made monetary contributions to social causes, including woman suffrage. Miller also served as a lecturer at Friends Equal Rights Association meetings. She read her paper, “A Word For Friends To-Day,” on several different occasions. Due to the large Quaker population in Sandy Spring, the Friends Equal Rights Association was active there.
Miller was also highly involved in record keeping and chronicling events in her Sandy Spring community. In 1909, she compiled The Annals of Sandy Spring: History of a Rural Community in Maryland, volume 3. The Annals of Sandy Spring chronicled all births, deaths, travel, meetings, organizations, and events within the community.
Miller’s involvement with suffrage lasted until at least 1911 when she represented the Maryland Woman Suffrage Association at the national meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association held in Louisville in October 1911.
One of Sandy Spring’s community organizations with which Miller was affiliated was the Wednesday Club. Miller attended the group’s first meeting on January 20, 1904. The Wednesday Club was a small group of residents who came together on Wednesdays to present their findings on various research topics. The research theme for the first meeting in 1904 was Spain.
Rebecca Miller was widely traveled, and though she was not married, she frequently traveled with Sandy Spring resident Ellen Farquhar. The women traveled often to New York and Boston, trips that were recorded in The Annals of Sandy Spring, for “educational purposes.” Farquhar and Miller also traveled internationally, visiting Europe in 1891, Europe and Africa in 1894, and Bermuda in 1902.
Miller died on December 27, 1938, at age seventy-four in Fort Lewis, Pierce County, Washington, while visiting a niece. Miller was buried in the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House Cemetery in Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland.
Balderson, Linda, ed. The Wednesday Club of Sandy Spring: Addendum. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press, 2017. GoogleBooks.
Baltimore Woman Suffrage Association of Maryland Meeting Minutes, Second Book, 1904-1910. Digital reproduction. Woman Suffrage in Maryland Collection. Special Collections, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://collections.digitalmaryland.org/digital/collection/scws/id/271/rec/8.
Find a Grave. “Rebecca Thomas Miller.” Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/98941159.
Friends Intelligencer, vol. 67. Philadelphia: Friends’ Intelligencer Association, 1910. Google Books.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Maryland,” chapter XIX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 258-76. [LINK]
Lantz, Emily Emerson. “Demand the Right to Vote.” Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD). January 7, 1906, p.8. ProQuest Baltimore Sun Historical.
“List of Subscribers.” Progress (New York) 7, no.10. October 1908, n.p. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
Lockwood, Mary Morris. “Treasurer’s Report.” Suffragist (Washington, D.C.) 1, no.4. December 6, 1913, p.27. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
Miller, Rebecca T., ed. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Or Fourteen Years’ History of a Rural Community in Maryland. Vol. 3. Baltimore: King Brothers, 1909. HathiTrust.
Miller, Rebecca T. “A Correction.” Woman’s Journal (Boston, MA) 35, no. 36. September 3, 1904, p.285. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
Miller, Rebecca T. “Woman Suffrage Association of Montgomery County.” New Voter (Baltimore, MD) 1, no. 2. December 1, 1910, p.6. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
Moore, Eliza N., ed. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Or Twelve Years’ History of a Rural Community in Maryland. Vol. 2. Baltimore: Thomas and Evans, 1902. HathiTrust.
“National-American Convention.” Woman’s Journal (Boston, MA) 22, no. 10. March 7, 1891, p.76. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
“Third List of Visitors and Fraternal Delegates.” Woman’s Tribune (Beatrice, NE) 5, no.16. March 29, 1888, p.8. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
United States Census 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, s.v. “Rebecca T. Miller, Montgomery County, MD.” HeritageQuest.