Family Stories · Notable Achievements of Family Women
Notable Achievements of Family Women

Martha Carey Thomas was the first President of Bryn Mawr College for Women in Philadelphia. It was largely strong Quaker women, many cited in this family website, who formed the group of women who organized and inspired efforts to found Bryn Mawr College.

Martha, a strong feminist, worked with Mary Garrett and the "Group of Four" to raise auxiliary funds that were necessary to open the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after the value of B&O stock plunged in the late 1880s. It was Martha Thomas, Mary Garrett and this group of women who raised most of the $500,000 necessary to save the Medical School. Their gift was called the "Women's Memorial Fund" and was donated to the medical school contingent on a change of School policy which would allow admission of women on an equal basis with men. In 1892 this was a radical change in tradition.

Mary Garrett, one of the "Group of Four", became the richest unmarried women in the country when her father, a President of the B&O Railroad, died in 1884. In a manner then revolutionary he made his unmarried only daughter an equal inheritor with his sons.

The moral strength of family women derived, in part, from the strong Quaker heritage in the State of Maryland. All members of the "Society of Friends" were considered ministers, leaders in the church and equal in the "eyes of the Lord". This forum provided for the organization of women in leadership roles which led to important reforms in society. Women from the Snowden, Warfield, Thomas, Hopkins and Carey families were ardent leaders in the Quaker religion and part of the movements which led to Manumission in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Women's Suffrage in 1902 and ultimately to Prohibition in 1919.

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©2005 George A. Scheele MD