Who was Mary Morrisson?

Mary Morrisson Portrait

Picture of Mary Morrisson taken for her Christmas card.  (From Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives, Connecticut College).

Mary Morrisson Plaque and Picture

Biography of Mary Foulke Morrisson, 1879-1971

From the Biographical Database of National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1890-1920 

By Mary Osborne, Museum Specialist, The Stewart House, Monmouth, Illinois

Organizer, National League of Women Voters; Director, Illinois chapter of League of Women Voters; Chairman, International Relations Committee, Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs; Trustee, Connecticut College; Director, Women's Division of the Groton Borough Defense Council

Mary Taylor Reeves Foulke Morrisson was born on November 14, 1879, in Richmond, Indiana, to Mary and William Dudley Foulke. A politician and civil service reformer, William Dudley Foulke also supported women's suffrage and served as president of the American Woman Suffrage Association from 1886-1890. In 1899, Mary graduated from Bryn Mawr, where she studied biology and chemistry. She married James William Morrisson on February 7, 1900, in Richmond, Indiana. After the Morrissons relocated to Chicago, Mary worked with Jane Addams at Hull House and with Carrie Chapman Catt on the campaign for woman suffrage. From June to Oct. 1914, she lived abroad in Europe, and after the woman suffrage bill became law, she devoted her time to educating women about their new rights. In volume 5 of The History of Woman Suffrage, she is noted to have participated in the NAWSA national convention in 1916.

Morrisson distinguished herself by "raising the status of women in local, state and national government." She traveled around the country giving talks about the National League of Women Voters, which she had helped establish. She also assisted in the organization of the Illinois branch of the League of Women Voters. In 1928, she was nominated to be a director for the Illinois league. A Republican, Morrisson supported Herbert Hoover and gave the seconding speech for his nomination during the 1920 Republican National Convention. She later campaigned for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

She did not limit her interests to national politics, however. Morrisson served on the American Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations and on the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. As its official representative, she spoke at the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact in Paris in 1928. In the 1920s, she also chaired the international relations committee of the Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs. During World War II, Mary directed the women's division of the Groton Borough Defense Council in Connecticut. She also maintained an interest in higher education. From 1938 until 1965, Morrisson fulfilled the duties of secretary on the Connecticut College Board of Trustees. The college recognized her years of hard work by naming a new dormitory for her in 1961.  At the age of 92, Mary Morrisson died on March 10, 1971, in New London, Connecticut.

In 1962, Groton Public Schools in Connecticut named an elementary school in her honor.  Mary Morrisson took part in the construction plans of the school to be named in her honor, requesting there be a courtyard within the school for students to enjoy time outdoors.  Today, teachers and students use the area for various uses through out the year.