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©2018 by Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum

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Margaret T. Carey

Margaret T. Carey was born on March 13, 1869, and died on May 12, 1945.  She was the sixth child and third daughter of Dr. James Carey Thomas and Mary Whitall Thomas a devout Quaker family of 10 children. Her father, James Carey Thomas, was a prominent physician and member of the boards of Bryn Mawr College and Johns Hopkins University. Her mother, Mary, was deeply committed to progressive causes, helped found the Baltimore YWCA and was President of Maryland’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  In 1893, Margaret married Anthony Morris Carey, her second cousin, also a staunch Quaker.  Each was recognized as a minister of the Homewood Friends Meeting.


She described herself as a serious, conscientious child, rather shy, happy in her family, and adoring her beautiful mother and her remarkable father who were unusual in the depth of their religious interest.  Margaret Carey was a fearless Quaker who fought side-by-side with Lillie Carroll Jackson against racial segregation.  She held interracial meetings of protest at her Guilford home and denounced the outrageous lynchings on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the 1930’s. 

Lillie Carroll Jackson directed that a room be set-aside in the Museum to honor Margaret as a leading representative of the courageous members of the white community in Maryland who sought racial justice at a time when it was highly unpopular and very dangerous to do so. 

 

Throughout her life, Margaret held fast to the core Quaker belief that the essence of God, or the Inner Light, resides in every human being, regardless of race, gender, or creed.  All persons are equal and united in brother or sisterhood.  

 

She was a natural student and eagerly took the opportunity of joining the first class at Bryn Mawr College where her oldest sister Carey was dean. Her last year at college was saddened by the death of her mother at the age of fifty-three. After graduation in 1889, she returned to Baltimore where she kept house for her father until her marriage in 1893 to a childhood friend and second cousin, A. Morris Carey.  The Careys made their first home at 832 Hamilton Terrace and three of their six children were born in it.

 

In 1894 at the age of twenty-five, Margaret T. Carey accepted membership on the Board of Directors of the Young Women’s Christian Association, and thus began her personal effort in wide service to the community. This connection with the YWCA was unique in that she maintained it unbroken for forty-six consecutive years until her retirement in 1940. During the first half of this period, she had also a heavy responsibility in rearing her family.

 

There were many other important community services, for her interests were wide, and she was always willing and faithful in discharging responsibility. She was interested in education and was for many years the treasurer and vice president of the Board of Managers for Bryn Mawr School. In her early married life she was active in the movement for Women's Suffrage, and in later years participated in the work of the League of Women Voters, and especially in that of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Her deep interest in the cause of international peace and her witness against war made her a staunch supporter of peace organizations such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Her pacifism had a deeply religious root and remained true and steady in time of war. She was in the habit of driving her car filled with friends to Washington and Annapolis for the purpose of interviewing legislators or attending hearings on issues of importance to responsible citizens.

 

Margaret T. Carey was interested in justice and equality of opportunity for all minority groups, and for a considerable period she was president of the Civil Liberties League. She was never afraid of unpopular causes, and as a valiant crusader in many of them, by her honest expression of opinion, her willingness and skill in raising money, and her faithful attendance at committee meetings, she did much to mould public opinion by her own example.

 

She had a strong ecumenical sense and did all she could through association with the Council of Churches to foster church unity and to extend the influence of Christianity into the local community.  All of these interests, deep though they were, were secondary to the real center of her life which lay in the Friends' Meeting. Born into a Quaker family and with the example of both her parents and her husband, all of whom were Friends' ministers, she shared her husband's unfailing interest in the Meeting and with him gave it continuous support, first when the Meeting was located on Eutaw Street, and later after it had moved in 1921 to Homewood Meetinghouse at 3107 North Charles Street. For a long time during her early married life she taught a Bible class for women in the Light Street Meeting for worship.

 

Her own gift in the ministry was recorded by Friends on March 28, 1908 when she was thirty-nine. To this ministry she brought the wide vision of her father and the eager sympathy and beautiful voice of her mother. Her messages were always constructive and filled with hope. They invariably left an impression of her own deep joy and sense of adventure in living the life of the Spirit. Above all, her spoken witness in the Meeting was most striking and spontaneous in her prayers. Behind these there lay years of untiring and regular private communion with her Heavenly Father.

 

There was no aspect of the work of the Monthly Meeting or the Yearly Meeting which did not interest her and call out her complete support. Evangelism, missions, temperance, peace, work in Christian Education in the Sunday School, were all of special interest and importance to this energetic minister and natural leader. In the Yearly Meeting on Ministry and Oversight she served continuously as clerk from 1913 to 1934. Nor were her activities limited to the local scene. When the Five Years Meeting of Friends in America was organized in Indianapolis in 1902, Margaret T. Carey was present, and during her long lifetime, she never missed a single session.  No memorial to her would be complete without mentioning the gracious atmosphere of her home, first at 832 Hamilton Terrace, later and for many years in the house at l 004 Cathedral Street, and then in 1930, after her beloved husband's death, at 4311 Rugby Road. Her home was always beautiful, a center of gracious and serene hospitality where guests of widely varying tastes and out looks were cordially and simply received. It was always a special privilege to be invited to that home.

 

In personal relationships her generous heart was always planning countless kindnesses, most of them unknown to anyone but the person himself. After her death one person wrote, "When I was a young, poverty stricken student nurse, she found endless ways of helping and encouraging me." Another wrote, "She was the first to rejoice with me when my oldest child was born, and the first to come to comfort me when my husband died."

 

For that deeply committed life of one of its ministers, whose faithfulness, perennial freshness of outlook, humor, and remarkable breadth of interest have left such a striking record not only in the Society of Friends but in Baltimore, Homewood Meeting is profoundly thankful. This memorial will serve the purpose for which all such writings are intended if it can "preserve a record of the power of Divine Grace in the life of a faithful servant of Cod." She lived as an instrument of Spirit, and her life was set in a framework of worship from which arose both her social vision and the energy to act for the love of God.

Photo courtesy of the LCJM Collection