Jane and Marianne Campbell: Catholic Feminists

I recently completed processing and creating a finding aid-available online- for the collection, Martin-Campbell-Furlong Family Papers, 1795-1963 (MC 90)  . Before moving on to another project, I wanted to bring attention to two more family members who are documented within this collection, Sarah Jane Campbell (1844-1928) and her sister Marianne Campbell (1840-1913). Jane and Marianne were two of the few 19th- and early 20th century prominent Catholic women feminists who advocated for women’s equality, specifically a woman’s right to vote. Both were very active within the women’s suffrage movement until the passage of the nineteenth amendment.

Sarah Jane Campbell

Jane, a prolific writer and speaker, was considerably visible within the suffrage movement. In 1892, she founded the Women’s Suffrage Society of Philadelphia, and served as its president for 22 years. She was also on the executive board of the Pennsylvania Women’s Suffrage Association and represented Philadelphia in the American Women’s Suffrage Association. She served as a delegate to the national and state conventions and was often in demand as a speaker. 

Marianne Campbell

The mouthpiece for Jane and Marianne’s views came in the form of the magazine Woman’s Progress in literature, science, art, education, and politics, which Marianne founded in 1893. Jane served as the magazine’s editor. Under the pseudonyms “T.S. Arthur” and “Catherine Osborne,” Marianne contributed many articles.

The periodical, according to its editor, was to “be a high class monthly magazine devoted to the best interests of Women. It is the intention of the editor,” the first issue’s editorial announcement notes,” to keep women informed of the various opportunities that are open to them; of their political status in different parts of the world; and of their work in Literature, Art, Science and Education.” In the journal, Jane called for political equality while writing essays about Catholic women’s past achievements in education and charitable work.


Jane and Marianne were also involved in numerous Catholic, civic, Irish-American, botanical, and historical organizations and associations, such as the American Catholic Historical Society for which Jane served as recording secretary for a time, as well as the City History Society of Philadelphia, the Audubon Society, St. Vincent’s Aid Society, the Civic Club, the Mercantile Club, and the Women’s Press Club among others. Long-time residents of Germantown, they were also actively involved in the social and cultural affairs of this section of the city.

Jane also contributed to several Philadelphia newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Record, and the Ledger writing about a multitude of topics. She also wrote children’s folk tales for the Record and contributed to Catholic publications, including the Rosary Magazine of New York, the Catholic Messenger, and the Records of the American Catholic Historical Society.

As an art teacher who worked in Philadelphia’s public schools for fifty-five years- her last position as Head of the Art Department at the Girls’ Normal School- Marianne was deeply devoted to and active in her profession. She was pivotal in the formation of the Teachers’ Annuity and Aged Society for the care of aged teachers. Marianne herself was an artist having studied at the Academy of the Fine Arts, often entering paintings in its annual exhibitions.

Although there is only a limited amount of documentation for Marianne Campbell, including a few letters, obituary notices, and estate items, there is a decent amount of correspondence to and from Jane Campbell. The majority of these letters are from Jane to the family of William J. and Elizabeth Martin Campbell who lived with Jane and Marianne. Some document Jane’s involvement in the suffrage movement as well as her involvement in numerous associations and clubs, and reveal her political, religious, and family loyalties. For example, in the following letter written from Portsmouth, Rhode Island- which had ratified the 19th amendment several months prior- Jane writes We are staying over here to attend a Jubilee Suffrage meeting, the practical dissolution of the Newport and Bristol Ferry Suffrage Society. The women in Rhode Island have Presidential Suffrage...so that they can pass their ballots in the Presidential elections. The Rhode Island Constitution gives the Legislature the power of conferring Pres. Suf. on women and the Legislature has done so. I saw the Providence Journal of yesterday...but there was nothing from Tennessee where the battle of the 36th state is being fought, maybe it is already decided but I have no means of knowing for perhaps some days. (Five days later, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment.)

Jane Campbell to her nephew John J. Campbell, August 13, 1920, p.1

Jane Campbell to her nephew John J. Campbell, p.2

Other materials relating to Jane include her will, and land deeds for the property she and Marianne purchased in Germantown.

PAHRC has an almost complete set of Woman's Progress magazine (Call # PER-W).


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