Remembering Mae Groot Manson (and Thomas L. Manson, too)

On June 1, 2017, the Village of East Hampton unveiled a new historical marker to honor the most outstanding suffragist on the East End of Long Island, Mae F. Groot Manson, a wife and mother of three. The Mansons were also members in good standing of New York City’s social elite, where she organized literary dances and they supported the ASPCA among other causes. The Village placed the marker in front of “Millfield,” the family’s summer home at 117 Main Street. I got the idea for the marker from HumanitiesNY, which posted notice that the Pomeroy Foundation was sponsor the forging of such markers in New York towns and villages, provided confirmation of the worthiness of the honoree could be documented. In stepped Arlene Hinkemeyer, a local historian and head of the suffrage centennial commission for the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons. Arlene provided the research. Rebecca Molinaro Hanson of the village office did the rest.

Mae died in September 1917, a scant two months before the women of New York State won the vote. Until then, Millfield was the epicenter of women’s suffrage activity on the East End of Long Island. There were weekly meetings, a memorable march to the Village Green which started from the home, a cross-state auto rally in relays that Mae led from Montauk to the western tip of Long Island, from which the suffrage motorists traveled on all the way to Buffalo, carrying aloft a torch.

Mae was married to Thomas Lincoln Manson, a banker, stockbroker and consummate “suffrage husband,” one of the group of fine men—thousands of them—secure enough in themselves to turn that pejorative moniker into a badge of distinction. Until now, Mae Manson has been best remembered for the portrait John Singer Sargent painted of her in 1890—as a houseguest gift [!]. She deserves the enhancement of this far more fitting legacy.

[LATERGRAM: 15 February 2018: Andrea Meyer of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection has unearthed at 1915 photo of May and of her Mother, at the Ladies Village Improvement Society Fair, in front of the “Farm Booth.” Mae is pictured third from the left and her mother, Mrs. Ellen Story Groot is to the far right.]


Arlene joins Antonia Petrash, author of Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement, and  Judith Hope, founder of Eleanor’s Legacy, for a program at the East Hampton Library on October 19th at 6pm in which Mae is sure to feature. I’m proud to be the host of this program, the third annual Tom Twomey Lecture in Local History for the Library’s Tom Twomey Series.

The East Hampton Star (first by Durrell Godfrey) and East Hampton Press (below by Kyril Bromley) commemorated the occasion with these happy faced photos.

National History Day contestants, please read this before you contact me.

The Suffragents won the Gold Medal in US History in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Sally and Morris Lasky Prize, presented by the Center for Political History.  See Summer Camp Newsletters” and Facebook posts from book-related appearances. Reviews, notices, and articles about my books are under their titles here. My articles are here.

Upcoming 2019: October 17: Suffragents Panel, National Archives, Washington DC.

Upcoming 2020: January 30: Learning in Retirement Program at Iona College. March 27 Ephemera Society of America, 40th annual conference, Old Greenwich CT. June 4-6Métiers et professions des médias (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles),”  Université de Lausanne (Switzerland).

Past 2019: September 23: January 29: Exhibition Opening Remarks: “Women Get the Vote: A Historic Look at the Nineteenth Amendment,“New York Society Library. February 23: Public Values in Conflict with Animal Agribusiness Practices,” UCLA Law School, Los Angeles.  March 13: The Suffragents,” Scarsdale Woman’s Club, Scarsdale NY. March 24: League of Women Voters, Albany County at the Bethlehem (NY) Public LibraryMarch 25:Judges, Lawyers, and Women’s Suffrage: Recognizing the Men Who Stood with Women on the Front Lines,” Gender Fairness Committee of the Third Judicial District, CLE, NY State Courts at SUNY Albany Law School, Albany NY. May 15: “The Republican Suffragents,” National Women’s Republican Club, New York City. August 7:  Panel, “From Emma Goldman to the Marketplace of Ideas: Marking the 100th Anniversary of Free Speech at the Supreme Court.” (page 40) AEJMC, Toronto. August 14: Webinar, National Park Service. September 23: Bentson Dean’s Lecture, College of Arts and Science, New York University.