Margaret Foley, 1873-1957


Margaret Foley, 1873-1957

No. 4024 Margaret Foley from Schlesinger Library

Foley was born in the Meeting House Hill area of Dorchester.


Papers in Schlesinger Library

Margaret Foley was born on March 19, 1875, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A member of the Hat Trimmers’ Union, Foley was on the board of the Boston Women’s Trade Union League (BWTUL). She was employed by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) from 1906 to 1915 as a speaker and manager of organization work. After making open air suffrage speaking tours across Massachusetts, in 1911 Foley attended the International Woman Suffrage Alliance convention in Stockholm and spent a month in London studying English suffrage tactics. Between 1912 and 1918 Foley traveled to other states to help organizations campaign in critical referenda and elections.

In addition to her suffrage work, Margaret Foley was a Trustee for Children in the Children’s Institutions Department, 1913-1920, and deputy commissioner of the Child Welfare Division in the Institutions Department, 1920-1926, both for the City of Boston. Foley never married and probably lived with her long time friend Helen Elizabeth Goodnow for many years. For further biographical information see the biography accompanying the Margaret Foley Collection (MC 404) in the Schlesinger Library. For additional papers, see MC 404, A/F663, and the Foley series of the Women’s Rights Collection.

Helen Elizabeth Goodnow was born in 1894, probably into a well to do family, and lived in the Boston area. In the 1910s she campaigned for suffrage in Boston, serving as chairman of Ward 25 in Brighton, perhaps under the auspices of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. Goodnow probably accompanied Margaret Foley on her “Southern Trip” in 1916. She was living with Foley at the time of the latter’s death.

from Jim Cooke:

You will recall that Margaret Foley is the first individual mentioned in the Boston Herald Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial, “Who Made Calvin Coolidge?” (September 1923) She was one very good woman to have on your side. She knew that CC supported the vote for women — and she shouted down Levi Greenwood who didn’t and was seeking reelection. He was defeated at the polls and cleared the path for CC to become President of the Massachusetts Senate. – Jim Cooke

see also Wikipedia article


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Posted on

November 26, 2022

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