Partner Marion Cothren

Queer Places:
Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave, Box 10, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
41 W 10th St, New York, NY 10011
42 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011
387 Clinton Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Main Street Cemetery Hudson, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA

Mary Louise Chamberlain (1888 - May 15, 1938) was an editor and peace activist and member of the Heterodoxy Club. Chamberlain, a staff writer for Survey, volunteered to cover the extraordinary international meetings of women activists at the Hague in 1915 and in Zurich in 1919.

Mary was born in Hudson, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ira H Chamberlain (1850–1926), a shoe manufacturer, and Sarah Chamberlain (1850–1956). Her father's plant burned down in her high school years (Mary was valedictorian of her class, 1905) and she spent her vacations working in a box factory to help pay her way at college.

Chamberlain graduated summa cum laude from Vassar in 1909. She was captain of the 1909 hockey team and was on the varsity, she was an editor of the Vassar Miscellany, and a Phi Beta Kappa member. She was chosen by classmates and faculty as the Vassar senior most likely to prove her social usefulness in the years to come, the fist woman in Massachusetts to achieve that. She obtained the Mary Borden fellowship, and that meant two years graduate work and $2000. The first of these she was in residence at the College Settlement in New York, while she got her masters in sociology and economics at Columbia. The second year, she studied at the Sorbonne.


Chamberlain in 1909

In 1912 she undertook an investigation of up-state canneries for the New York State Factory Commission. After that she did further investigation and reporting for the New York Consumers League. From 1913 to 1920 she worked for The Survey. In 1915 she denounced The Bewley Thompson bill, permitting women to work seventy-two hours a week in the canneries. She said: "The only reason the bill was passed and got as far as Governor Whitman is because it was fathered by a canner."

In 1915 Chamberlain is living with Marion Cothren, at 387 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn. Around 1916, when Cothren's daughter, Frances, is 9 years old, Chamberlain is reported by Jeannette Rankin as living with them, at Monmouth Hills Club (now the The Water Witch Club), Highlands, New Jersey. In 1920 they are living at 42 West 9th Street and in 1921 at 41 West 10th Street.

She married Oscar Graeve (1885-1939), novelist and editor. Between the birth of her first child and the second (Mary Ann Graeve and Werner Graeve), she was again an associate editor and circulation manager—this time of the Woman’s Journal, which dealt with legislation of special interest to the new women voters.

She directed the woman’s publicity for Roosevelt in the national elections of 1932 and 1936. It was she who contrived and carried out the Rainbow Fliers which were a colorful variant from anything attempted before. Between campaigns, Mary Chamberlain wrote the Know Your Government series which was the backbone of the Democratic Women's Digest, for which she was contributing editor.

Chamberlain died in 1938.


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