Mary Wright Sewall was born in Wisconsin in May 27 1844 (She later changed her name to May). May died July 23, 1920, Indianapolis, Indiana. See Mary Wright Materials
Mary Eliza Wright was born on May 27,1844 in Greenfield, Wisconsin, the daughter of Philander W. Wright and Mary W. Wright. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1866, and a master's degree in 1868, from North Western Female College. She married Edwin W. Thompson in 1872 and moved with him to Indianapolis, Indiana where he died in 1875. She became interested in women's suffrage, attending a national conference in 1878. She married Theodore Lovett Sewall in 1880 and became involved in the Boys' Classical School he founded and then in the Girls' Classical School which they jointly founded. She was elected president of the National Congress of Women in 1891 and the International Congress of Women in 1899. She was a member of Henry Ford's Peace Expedition in 1915, and she was a proponent for peace for many years. She sold the Girls' Classical School in 1907, having headed it after her husband's death in 1895. She made a living as a lecturer and author. She died July 23, 1920 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Sewall, May Wright. Indiana Historical Society.
"Sewall, May Wright". Pictorial and biographical memoirs of Indianapolis and Marion County, (p.322-325). (1893), Goodspeed Brothers, Chicago, IL See also Sewall-Belmont House
From Pictorial and biographical memoirs of Indianapolis and Marion County
mrs. May Wright Sewall, the chairman of the committee on a World's Congress of Representative Women, convened under the auspices of the World's Congress Auxiliary of the World's Colombian Exposition, is a native of Wisconsin; her parents, however, were both from old New England families. After graduating from the Northwestern University at Evanston, I1l., Mrs. Sewall taught public schools in Michigan and was soon made the principal of the high school. She became, later, the principal of the high school in Franklin, Ind., and teacher of English and German in the high school of Indianapolis. From this position she resigned in 1880, upon her marriage with Mr. Theodore L. Sewall, principal of a private school for boys in that city.
In 1882 Mr. and Mrs. Sewall opened a private school for girls, known as the Girls' Classical School, which was immediately successful and has become widely known. Mrs. Sewall's profession is thus that of a teacher, her specialty being English literature; her school duties occupy the first and highest place in her attention and demand and receive a large share of her time. From her infancy Mrs. Sewall was trained to a strong belief in the right of women to wider opportunities for education and to a fuller share in the honors and the profits of business, professional and industrial activity than they have hitherto enjoyed. Her energies were enlisted in these reforms soon after reaching womanhood and for twenty years she has been a strong ally of every cause that promoted the advancement of women. She was first actively connected with National Woman Suffrage Association, in which her power was immediately recognized and in which she held for many years the arduous and responsible office of chairman of the executive committee. She was one of the promoters of the International Council of Women, which convened in Washington in 1888, and conceived the idea of perpetuating its influence through permanent international and national councils of women. In the organization of both of these bodies she subsequently aided. Mrs. Sewall was one of the committee that formulated the plan for the general federation of women's clubs. She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Women, an honorary member of the Union Internationale des Sciences et des Arts, of Paris; a member of the American Historical Association, of Sorosis, etc.
In her own home Mrs. Sewall has played a most active part in the work of organization for social reform and other purposes. Thus she was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Woman's Club, of the Indianapolis Art Association, of the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society, of the Indiana State Suffrage Society, of the Indianapolis Ramabai Circle, of the Indiana branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, of the university extension work in Indianapolis under the auspices of this latter society, of the Indianapolis Local Council of Women; of the Indianapolis Woman's Exchange, and of the Indianapolis Contemporary Club. She also originated the plan of the Indianapolis Propyheum, an incorporated joint stock company of women, which has erected a handsome building for social and educational purposes.
Mrs. Sewall was appointed by Gov. Hovey a member at large of the Board of World's Fair Managers for Indiana, and is chairman of the committee on women's work and a member of the committee on education in that body. Being president of the National Council of Women and acquainted with many of the leading women of Europe from several summers spent in England, France, Germany and Italy, Mrs. Sewall was made the chairman of the committee on a World's Congress of Representative Women, to the success of which she has devoted her energies and her time for the past twelve mouths, spending the summer in Europe for the purpose of explaining to foreign women its importance and its scope. In Berlin Mrs. Sewall held many conferences with small groups of prominent women, and later visited Homlmrg by appointment with the Empress Frederick, who granted her an hour's interview and who was deeply interested in the work as outlined by Mrs. Sewall. In Brussels Mrs. Sewall addressed the Woman's League of Belgium and in Paris she gave an address in the Mairie St. Snlpice before a large company of leading men and women. This address was widely noticed in the press of Russia. France, England and Italy, and the leading facts of the congress were thus widely disseminated. Mrs. Sewall devoted two weeks in Paris to conferences with individuals and organizations in the interest of the congress.
See Power of the People by Skip Berry
Mrs. Sewall's public work is thus, it will be seen, devoted to the furtherance of organization among women. She has always labored with a broad view, careless of the letter if the spirit can be secured. Her work is all done above the plane of personalities and she cares little for the honors that it brings her in comparison with the good of the cause. She has worked steadily for harmony and consolidation among conflicting interests, with an eye single to the permanent good. She labored earnestly and successfully, with others, to accomplish the union of the American and the National Suffrage Associations and of the eastern and the western branches of the Association of Collegiate Alumnse. She is widely known as a warm friend, a generous and fair opponent, sympathetic with all workers for the good of humanity and especially of women. Mrs. Sewall has many lectures on social, educational and reform topics and her services as a lecturer are widely sought for. She is perhaps at her best as an extemporaneous speaker, her style being clear, cogent and eloquent, with full command of her subject. As a presiding officer she is uniformly successful, being dignified, clear-headed, impartial and quick to seize a point.
Mrs. Sewall is also a prolific writer, but her work is not of a character to be easily cataloged, consisting chiefly of newspaper editorials and correspondence, constitutions, programs, reports and addresses on educational, reform and social subjects. To the various activities outlines above Mrs. Sewall adds those of a housekeeper who oversees all the affairs of her household in minute detail. She is widely known as an entertainer and plays her full part in the social and even the fashionable life of Indianapolis, her Wednesday afternoon receptions being a feature of the intellectual and social life of the city. Among prominent western women of to-day few, if any, take a higher rank than Mrs. May Wright Sewall, of Indianapolis, Ind. She has gained this prominence, and national recognition as well, through her remarkable and rare executive ability. So sure footed is she in all of her efforts that her name in connection with any undertaking is regarded almost as a talisman of success. She is one of those in whom action becomes unconsciously a synonym of leadership, and by instinct and by choice her attention has been turned largely to public matters, in which the interests of numbers are involved. This has made her a market! figure in nearly all public movements in her home city, in her State and in the nation. Yet the time she gives to those things is what for another woman would be her leisure hours. The usual working hours of each day she devotes conscientiously to her model school for girls.
Memorial Banner ”In Memory of May Wright Sewall” hot pink cotton twill face, with yellow painted lettering with four hanging loops across top edge, cream colored cotton twill backing. Machine stitched. Canvas interfacing.
Mrs. Sewall is by birth and by her most noticeable characteristics and special sympathies a western woman. She was born in Milwaukee, Wis., then a frontier settlement, whence her parents had come from New England. She received her early education in the district schools; later she spent two years in a private academy. She was afterward for a time under the care of private tutors, who prepared her to enter, at an early age, the Northwestern University of Evanston, where she was graduated with the degree A. B. in 1867. The degree A. M. was conferred upon her three years later. She served her apprenticeship as an educator by taking private pupils and by teaching in different graded schools of Michigan. She was soon called to more advanced work and filled with success the position of principal successively in the high schools of Plainwell, Mich., and Franklin, Ind.
In 1874 she became instructor in German in the high school at Indianapolis. In 1880 she became the wife of Theodore L. Sewall, a prominent educator of Indianapolis, and for several years gave her chief attention to home and social duties. Domestic duties were then a comparatively unknown field to Mrs. Sewall, but with her characteristic energy and determination to master whatever work might be set before her she fitted herself for a model housekeeper by doing all of her own work until she had learned thoroughly all branches of housekeeping. As a result of this training her domestic affairs, to which she still gives her personal supervision, run like clock-work and her servants are examples of faithfulness and efficiency.
In 1883 Mr. and Mrs. Sewall opened the Classical School for Girls in Indianapolis. To this school Mrs. Sewall gives her life work and the fairest fruit of her genins. In its brief existence it has become large and flourishing and the cherished plan of its principals, of making it a school complete and thorough in every department from the lowest primary to the collegiate, has been carried out. It provides everything except a college course, to which its senior class is a stepping stone. Mrs. Sewall is probably more widely connected in an active way with local and national organizations than any other woman in the country. She is interested first of all in the advancement and higher education of women. She was one of the founders and a most enthusiastic member of the Woman's Club, an influential literary club of Indianapolis.
She has been a moving spirit in the Indianapolis Ramabai Circle, in the Indianapolis Suffrage Society and in the Propylseum, an organization which deserves much more than a passing notice. It is a woman's stock company, organized in 1888, which has recently carried out its chief purpose, the erecting of a handsome club building for club meetings and public entertainments, which is not only a useful and ornamental structure but promises to be a profitable investment for the stockholders. Mrs. Sewall is and has been from its beginning the president of the organization and its success is largely due to her business tact and skillful management.
Mrs. Sewall is an enthusiastic member of the Indianapolis Art Association, which holds yearly exhibitions, and is exercising a wide influence in cultivating artistic taste. And last, but by no means least, in her connection with local affairs she was the first president of the Contemporary Club, a literary club organized a year ago, whose large membership includes both men and women prominent in her city and State. Mrs. Sewall is a warm advocate of the political rights of women, and has been for a number of years prominent in the work of the Indiana and the National Equal Suffrage Societies. She is president of the National Council of Women, vice-president of the National Federation of Woman's Clubs, and one of the vice-presidents of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae. She is a member of Sorosis, of the Association for the Advancement of Women, of the American Historical Society, and of the International Council of Women. In 1889 she was a delegate to the Woman's Congress in Paris, and made an address in French which received praise for its eloquence from M. Jules Simon and others. Mrs. Sewall has since been made au honorary member of the Union Internationale cles Sciences et des Arts, Paris.
The latest public honor done to Mrs. Sewall is her appointment by Governor Hovey to a place on the Board of Commissioners for the World's Fair. If we add that Mrs. Sewall is in frequent demand as a lecturer on literary, education and reform subjects, her almost phenomenal capacity for public work may be more fully estimated. But this is not all of her achievements. Her versatility of talent and tireless energy have enabled her to do also a great deal of literary work. Her contribution on the education of women in the Western States to the recently published "Woman's Work in America" is one of the most interesting chapters in that wholly interesting and valuable work. Mrs. Sewall is still a young and youthful looking woman. She is fond of society and of social life, and has exerted a wide and good social influence in Indianapolis. She presides over an elegant and hospitable home, where her friends are frequently entertained, and where many strangers also, men and women of note who visit Indianapolis, are made welcome. Her weekly informal Wednesday afternoon receptions are always largely attended, and have become a prominent feature in the social life of Indianapolis. Probably no woman in America so completely represents the life of modern woman with its marvelous round of occupations and duties. Mrs. Sewall is a fine embodiment of the practical ideas of the day. Her unvarying success is due largely to the system and thoroughness underlying her smallest as well as her greatest undertakings, and to the religious care she takes of her bodily health. A worker, a thinker, a writer, of virile ability,
Mrs. Sewall is withal a most womanly woman, loving pretty dresses, pictures, books, and perhaps most of all, fine china. She has a beautiful collection, gifts of friends and souvenirs, whose history she delights to relate to sympathetic listeners. A large number of contributions to the press, on varied subjects, historical, literary, reform; in particular contributions, editorial and other, to the Woman's Journal, Boston; the American Woman's Journal, New York; the Indianapolis Journal; the Woman's Tribune; Dress; Journal of Speculative Philosophy; the Woman's Magazine; the Arena; the Cycle; the Union Signal; the Indianapolis Times; the Boston Traveler; the Woman's Penny Paper (London, England).
Woman's Party Booth at San Francisco Exposition Spring 1915. L-R, Front - 1 Mrs. May Wright Sewall, 2 Mrs. Kate Waller Barrett (Alexandria, Va), Rear - 3 Miss Anita Whitney (Cal.), 4 Mrs. Mary Bear, 5 Miss Vivian Pierce, 6 Miss Margaret Whittemore
A large number of pamphlets and monographs, principally on educational and reform topics, in particular relating to organization and work among women. Among these may be mentioned: Disinherited Childhood (published by the Moral Education Society, of Washington, D. C, 1881); Report on the Position of Women in Industry and Education in the State of Indiana (prepared for the New Orleans Exposition, at the request of the Commissioners for Indiana, 1885); Women as Educators (an address before the Association for the Advancement of Women, New York, October, 1887); The Domestic and Social Effects of the Higher Education of Women (an address read before the Western Association of Collegiate Alumnae, Ann Arbor, December, 10, 1887); Report on the Higher Education for Women in the United States (read at the session of the International Council of Women, March 2, 1888; printed in the Report of the proceedings); The Industrial Relations of Women to the State (an address prepared for the Indiana Board of Agriculture); Woman's Work in America (the chapter on the Education of Women in the West; Holt & Co., 1891); Exposition Day in the Schools (prepared at the request of the Committee on Education of the Indiana Board of World's Fair Commissioners, Indianapolis, 1891; Preliminary Address for the World's Congress of Representative Women, Chicago, 1892; Form of Constitution of Local Councils of Women, Indianapolis, 1892; Pamphlet outlining the work of the Committee on Woman's Work of the Indiana Board of World's Fair Commissioners, 1892; History of the Indianapolis Art Association (Vouge's Art Folio, March, 1892; The General Federation of Women's Clubs (in the Arena, August, 1892); Introduction to a Symposium on Woman's Dress (in the Arena, September, 1892).
See More @ The Sewall Papers
May Wright Sewall: Hoosier Victorian Women's Rights Advocate , Educator, and Advocate of the Arts
The Illustrated AmericaN Volume 13
Mrs. May Wright Sewall.
Among the features of the World's Fair celebrations will be a congress of representative women from all parts of the world. This congress will have no specific object beyond bringing together from all parts of the world individuals and organizations laboring for the same ends, or interested in any department of intellectual activity, in philanthropy, or reform.
The chairman of this committee is Mrs. May Wright Sewall, whose name is as familiar to the West as that of Mrs. Potter Palmer. Mrs. Sewall is already on the board of commissioners for the World's Fair, and deserves her place by virtue of her acquirements and her services for the benefit of the public.
Born in Milwaukee, Mrs. Sewall's chief characteristics and special sympathies are Western. She was graduated from the Northwestern University, in Illinois, and at once began her apprenticeship as an educator by teaching in the different schools in Michigan. In 1880 she becam: the wife of Theodore L. Sewall, himself a prominent educator at Indianapolis, and for several years she devoted her entire attention to her home and to society.
Mrs. Sewall is widely and actively connected with organizations throughout the country. She was one of the founders of the Woman's Club at Indianapolis and is still an enthusiastic member. In the Ramabai Circle and in the Indiana Suffrage Society she is a moving spirit; she has also a large interest in the Propytasum, a woman's stock company which has erected a handsome building for club meetings and public entertainments. The building has been a profitable investment, and its success is largely due to Mrs. Sewall's business tact and skillful management. She is an enthusiastic member of the Indianapolis Art Association, which holds yearly exhibitions and is exercising a wide influence in cultivating artistic taste.
Mrs. Sewall is a warm advocate of the political rights of women. She is president of the National Council of Women, vice-president of the National Federation of Woman's Clubs, and one of the vice-presidents of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae She is a member of Sorosis, of the Association for the Advancement of Women, of the American Historical Society, and of the Industrial Council of Women.
In 1889 Mrs. Sewall was a delegate to the Woman's Congress in Paris, and made an address in French which received unstinted praise for its eloquence from M. Jules Simon. At that time she was made an honorary member of the " Union Internationale des Sciences et des Arts," of Paris. A Progressive Woman. Mrs. May Wright Sewall a Leader in the National Council of Women Date: Thursday, September 27, 1894 Paper: Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, NJ) Page: 8
See The Propylaeum Historic Foundation, Inc
From Pictorial and biographical memoirs of Indianapolis and Marion County
Theodore Lovett Sewall was born in Germantown, Ohio, September 20, 1853. His mother, Louise K. Lovett, belongs to the old and substantial Lovett family, of Beverly, Mass. His father, Edmund Quincy Sewall, Jr., belongs to a family that has been distinguished in Massachusetts annals for two centuries and a half, including in its direct line, Chief Justice Samuel Sewell, the Diarist (died 1730), Rev. Joseph Sewall of the Old South Church, Boston (died 1796), and a second Chief Justice Samuel Sewall (died 1814). The family is of English stock.
Mr. Sewall received his early education in a private school at Wilmington, Del. He entered Harvard College in 1870, and graduated in 1874, being the seventh Sewell in a direct line to receive his education and his degree from this institution. Mr. Sewall remained in Cambridge two years longer taking the course in the Harvard Law School, receiving the degree of LL. B. in 1876. Spending the summer of 1876 in Indianapolis, Ind., he was invited by prominent citizens of that place to open a preparatory school for boys, which he did in September, 1876, naming it the Indianapolis Classical School. In 1880 Mr. Sewall married May Wright Thompson, a lady descended from the Wright and , Brackett families of New England, and who is well known for ability in educational and reform movements, especially, such as affect women (see May Wright Sewall). In 1882 Mr. and Mrs. Sewall opened a Girls' Classical School, with a course of study conforming to the Harvard requirements for admission. These schools were among the first private schools in the West, to meet fully the highest collegiate requirements for admission, including Greek and mathematics for girls; and to introduce the systematic work of the gymnasinm, under competent teachers, in connection with the other school work. A girls' boarding department was opened in 1886. Both institutions have had more than a local influence. The girls' school, especially, draws pupils from all sections of the country, and has graduates in all the prominent woman's colleges in the country. In 1889 Mr. Sewall transferred the boys' school to other hands, and Mr. and Mrs. Sewall have since then devoted their entire time to the school for girls. Mr. Sewall received the degree of A. M. from the Indiana University, in 1887. He has done considerable literary work, and has lectured frequently on social and literary subjects. For ten years he was the secretary, and, later, the president, of the Indianapolis Literary Club. Mr. and Mrs. Sewall have spent four summers traveling in Europe.The Harvard Graduates Magazine By George P. Sanger, Sec.
940 Exchange Building, Boston. Theodore Lovett Sewall died at Indianapolis, Ind., Dec. 23 1874. He was born at Germantown, Ohio, Sept. 20, 1853. Both his mother, Louise Kilham Lovett, and his father, Edmund Quincy Sewall, Jr., were of old Massachusetts families. In the direct line are included Chief Justice Samuel Sewall, who died in 1730 ; the Rev. Joseph Sewall, of the Old South Church, Boston, who died in 1796; and the second Chief Justice Samuel Sewall, who died in 1814.
See MA History Archives
Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Theodore Sewall attended a private school at Wilmington, Del. He entered Harvard in 1870, and was graduated in 1874, the seventh Sewall in the direct line to receive his degree at Harvard. He remained at Harvard two years longer, attending the Law School, and received, in 1876, the degree of LL. B. While visiting Indianapolis in 1876, he was invited to open a preparatory school for boys, and in the fall of that year he started the Indianapolis Classical School. In 1880 he married May Wright Thompson. Two years later Mr. and Mrs. Sewall opened the Girls' Classical School, with a course adapted to the Harvard requirements for admission. Both the boys' and girls' schools were conducted by the Sewalls until 1889, when the boys' school was transferred to another management, and the attention of the Sewalls was turned to the girls' school exclusively. Mr. Sewall was interested in literary work. He was for ten years secretary, and for one term president of the Indianapolis Literary Club. For four years he was secretary of the Contemporary Club, which was organized under his direction at his house. He was also a member of the Art Association. In religious belief be was a Unitarian; in politics, an Independent.