Sandy Spring Museum: Mary Bentley Thomas & Caroline Hallowell Miller stood strong for suffrage
On September 12, 2021, today’s champions of suffrage came together at the Sandy Spring Museum to honor two influential Montgomery County suffragists, Mary Bentley Thomas and Carolyn Hallowell Miller.
Maryland suffrage activity was quiet for nearly two decades, until 1889 when Caroline Hallowell Miller (1831-1905), a Quaker and educator, began the Sandy Spring Woman’s Suffrage Association and served as its president. Her influence was nationwide, as she also represented Maryland throughout the country as the first president of the Maryland Woman Suffrage Association.
When the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s (NAWSA) 38th convention met in Baltimore in 1906, Mary Bentley Thomas (1846 – 1923) prepared advertisements for the event that included this message: “If you are indifferent, come and be convinced. What we ask is not revolutionary or untried, but the reasonable and just demand of every living being under a democratic form of government.” Thomas, who hailed from a Montgomery County Quaker family, was a suffragist of both local and national prominence.
Three generations of Mrs. Thomas’s family unveiled the marker: Alex Fennington (great-great-great granddaughter); Gail DeRose (great-great granddaughter) and Rusty Suter, (great-granddaughter).
The celebration at Sandy Spring Museum included a full program. MWHC volunteer researcher Jean Thompson provide keynote remarks about the impact the African American women had on Maryland’s suffrage movement. There were also monologues by historical reenactors as suffragists; remarks by Maria Darby, Board President of the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center; Allison Weiss, Executive Director of Sandy Spring Museum and Steve Bodnar of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which provided funding for the marker.
In the News
Sandy Spring Museum to receive suffrage marker … by Audrey Partington, The Greater Olney News