Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward: first steps toward a biography

In our most recent blog post, Another family portrait! Caroline (Clark) Woodward, c. 1890s, we located and discussed the history of a previously unknown photo of Jonathan M. and Mary (Turck) Clark’s eldest child, Caroline Mary Clark, later usually known as Mrs. C. M. Woodward:

Townsend Elite Studio, [Portrait, Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward], inscribed “Mrs. C. M. Woodward, Supt. Work among Railroad Employes, N.W.C.T.U.”, photograph, circa 1889-1900. Photo courtesy Frances Willard House Museum & WCTU Archives, Evanston, Illinois. Click to open larger image in new window.

Caroline’s life was the most public—and perhaps best documented—of all the members of Jonathan M. Clark family, and is overdue for a closer examination. So today we begin a multi-part look at Caroline’s story, starting with three biographical sketches that were published during her lifetime.

Caroline’s first biographical sketch, 1893

The first published biographical sketch of Caroline M. Clark Woodward’s life is found in single—but hefty—volume of biography published in 1893 as:

Willard, Frances E., and Mary A. Livermore. 1893. A woman of the century ; fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches accompanied by portraits of leading American women in all walks of life ; ed. by Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore, assisted by a corps of able contributors.

Caroline M. Clark Woodward’s biography appears on page 799. You can read the whole book online, or download your own free pdf copy, at GoogleBooks, here.

Editors Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore were, of course, nationally known leaders in the temperance and suffrage (and other) causes. Caroline (Clark) Woodward had—at least—met Frances Willard at W.C.T.U. national conventions, and probably was acquainted with Mary Livermore as well.

What’s it say?

Here’s the text of Caroline’s biographical sketch, as published by editors Willard and Livermore in 1893. I have transcribed it without any corrections or emendations:

WOODWARD, Mrs. Caroline M. Clark, temperance worker, born in Mignon, near Milwaukee, Wis., November 17th, 1840. Her father, Jonathan M. Clark, was a Vermonter of English descent, who, born in 1812, of Revolutionary parentage, inherited an intense American patriotism. Her mother, Mary Turch Clark, of German and French ancestry, was born and bred on the banks of the Hudson river. Both were persons of more than ordinary education and, though burdened with the cares of a family of one son and seven daughters, were life-long students. Caroline was the oldest daughter. She attended the district school in a log house till seventeen years of age. To that was added one year of study in German in a private school. At the age of eight years she was considered quite a prodigy in her studies. At the age of seventeen she began to teach. After two years of study in the Milwaukee high school under John G. McKidley, famed as a teacher and organizer of educational work, she taught in the public schools of that city. She became the wife of William W. Woodward in 1861. For eighteen years they made their home on a farm near Milwaukee, a favorite resort for a large number of cultivated friends and acquaintances. In 1879 they removed to Seward, Neb., where they still reside. Since 1875 she has been engaged in public affairs, serving as secretary of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society and as president of the Milwaukee district association. She has been identified with the same work in Nebraska. In 1882 she entered the field of temperance as a newspaper writer, and she has shown herself a consistent and useful Worker in that cause and in all the reformations of the times. In 1884 she was elected treasurer of the Nebraska Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and in 1887 vice-president-at-large of the State, which office she still holds. In 1887 she was appointed organizer for the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and was twice reappointed. In the Atlanta convention she was elected associate superintendent of the department of work among railroad employee. She has been a member of each national convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union since and including the memorable St. Louis convention of 1884. She was a delegate to the National Prohibition Party Convention of 1888, held in Indianapolis. She was nominated by that party for regent of the State University in 1891, and led the State ticket by a handsome vote. Mrs. Woodward is one of the clearest, most logical and forcible speakers in the West.

How accurate is this short biography?

The details in this biography were probably provided, but not edited, by Caroline herself. Generally speaking, the information presented in this sketch agrees with many known facts about Caroline’s life prior to publication in 1893. But not all. And Caroline lived until 1924, over thirty years after this volume was published, and she was active in her personal and professional life up to the very end.

So there are errors; we’ll take a closer look at those shortly. And, naturally, a brief encyclopedia biography such as this will have many omissions. We will be able to fill in quite a few of those details from other sources in upcoming blog posts.

Two subsequent editions…

Caroline’s 1893 biography served as the source for two subsequent publications of, essentially, the same profile. In 1897, Frances Willard and Mary Livermore produced a second, expanded and revised, two-volume edition of their 1893 book, including the identical profile of Caroline M. Clark Woodward:

Willard, Frances E., and Mary A. Livermore. 1897. American women: fifteen hundred biographies with over 1,400 portraits : a comprehensive encyclopedia of the lives and achievements of American women during the nineteenth century, Vol. 2. New York: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick. Free GoogleBooks edition of available here.

Caroline M. Clark Woodward’s biography appears in Vol. 2, once again on page 799. In fact, it looks like the publishers may have re-used at least some of the original printer’s plates in this revised and expanded edition. I’m not sure about this, though; a page-by-page comparison is needed to be certain. In any case, Caroline’s biography is identical in the 1893 and 1897 Willard & Livermore books.

Mrs. Logan’s book, 1912

A third, truncated, version of this biographical sketch was published in a 1912 collection of American women’s biographies entitled The part taken by women in American history, edited by Mary Simmerson Cunningham (Mrs. John A.) Logan. The preface to Mrs. Logan’s book explains its purpose and methods: the editor extracted biographies from a number of relevant but scattered existing reference works and biographical collections, and organized the entries by category (e.g., women in suffrage work, in the temperance field, in missionary work, and so on). My assumption is that the editor did not collect much new or updated information for her 1912 work.

Mrs. Logan’s volume is useful if you are searching for late-19th and early-20th century sources of women’s biography. For reference, here are the title page and page vi (with “a partial list of books consulted”) from Mrs. Logan’s volume:

Logan, Mrs. John A. [Mary Simmerson Cunningham Logan]. 1912. The part taken by women in American history. Wilmington, Del: Perry-Nalle Pub. Co., title page and page vi, citing “books consulted.”

Caroline’s 1912—abbreviated—biography

Also for reference, here is the complete text of the entry for Caroline from page 694 of The part taken by women in American history:

Mrs. Caroline M. Clark Woodward entered the field of temperance in 1882 as a temperance writer and she proved herself a consistent and useful worker for the cause. In 1884 she was elected treasurer of the Nebraska Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and in 1887, vice-president at large of the state. In 1887 she was appointed organizer for the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and was twice reappointed. In the Atlanta convention she was elected associate superintendent of the department of work among railroad employees. She was a member of each national convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, including the memorable St. Louis convention of 1884. She was a delegate to the national prohibition party convention in 1888, held in Indianapolis and as a final and well-earned honor she was nominated by that party for regent of the state university of Nebraska and led the state ticket by a large vote.

By the way, the compiler of The part taken by women in American history, Mary Simmerson Cunningham Logan (1838-1923), was an almost exact contemporary of Caroline M. Clark Woodward, and an interesting woman in her own right. She was the wife of Illinois politician and Union General John A. Logan, and wrote a number of books on a wide variety of non-fiction topics.

Disambiguation: the two “Caroline M. Woodwards”

Take a close look at page 799 in both the 1893 and 1897 editions of the Willard & Livermore books. The two—identical—pages feature biographies for two women named “Caroline M. Woodward.” One of these is “our” Caroline Mary Clark Woodward (1840-1924).

The other is a writer named Caroline Marshall Woodward (1828-1890). Caroline Marshall was born in New Hampshire and married a man named… William W. Woodward. Yes, both Caroline Mary Clark and Caroline Marshall married men named William W. Woodward. To the best of my knowledge, the two men are completely unrelated.

The photo found on the “Woodward” page of both the 1893 and 1897 books is a portrait of Mrs. Caroline Marshall Woodward. Here’s that photo as it appears in the 1893 edition:

The photo accompanies Caroline Marshall Woodward’s biography in both the 1893 and 1897 editions, and is clearly and correctly captioned in both. Yet for some reason, this photo accompanies at least one online article about the life of Mequon’s Caroline Mary (Clark) Woodward. So proceed with care as you search for Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward information and images.

That’s not the only error…

Confusing the two Carolines, and their photographs, is an easily avoidable mistake. Today’s biographical sketches of “our” Caroline also contain various errors—major and minor—that need correction or clarification. And, not surprisingly, these short biographies skip over many other important aspects of Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward’s professional and personal life, both before and after 1893.

There’s much to do as we assemble a more complete and accurate picture of the life and work of Caroline (Mary) Clark Woodward. We’ll begin next time by taking a closer look at the 1893/1897 biographical sketch. There will be corrections, explanations, links and source citations galore!

Be well. See you soon.

3 thoughts on “Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward: first steps toward a biography

  1. Pingback: Caroline M. (Clark) Woodward: a closer look at that 1893 biography | Clark House Historian

  2. Pingback: Caroline Clark – from student to teacher | Clark House Historian

  3. Pingback: Caroline gets married – but where? | Clark House Historian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.