It is both a pleasure and a privilege to greet you as Maryland's First Lady and to introduce you to this exhibition featuring women who have made a significant, but often overlooked, contribution to the history of our state. Perhaps Helen Tawes, wife of Governor J. Millard Tawes, summed it up best when she described her motivation for commissioning several of the portraits you see here today:
"A governor's wife comes here, and she works like a dog. I just feel they get so little credit, some recognition would be nice."
I am sure that Mrs. Tawes would be gratified to see this exhibition, and to know that it is only the beginning of what I hope will be an effort to learn more about the First Ladies and Official Hostesses of Maryland.
On display for the first time in Government House in honor of Women's History Month, are all of the portraits of Maryland's First Ladies and Official Hostesses in the State's collection. Some have been here before, but not since 1981, and one has never been on display officially at all. Together they provide a glimpse of a neglected side of Maryland history from the eighteenth century to the present.
The exhibition grew out of a desire to honor the contributions of the many women who have served our State so well, but about whom we seem to know so little. Often they went beyond their traditional social roles to serve as dedicated volunteers in any number of organizations that promoted local concerns and assisted in national crises. They were philanthropists, artists, campaigners, interior designers, musicians, nutritionists, and nurses, in addition to being wives and mothers. It is especially fitting that their portraits are displayed here, in Government House, a place that was the focus of their efforts to create a dignified, elegant, and welcoming "home" for government, a quiet place of refuge, compromise and consensus in the stormy seas of Annapolis politics.
This exhibition is but a first step in what I hope will be increasing attention paid, state-wide, to Women's history, a contribution to Women's History that will reinforce and accelerate the good work of the Maryland Commission for Women, and the efforts of the Women's Caucus to celebrate the national Centennial of Women Legislators.
Just recently a committee in Prince George's County published "Women of Achievement in Prince George's County History." The book includes women from colonial times to the closing years of the twentieth century, many of whom, despite their significant contributions to the county, remained anonymous until now. I hope we will be able to do something similar for all the Women of Maryland in the near future.
This exhibition of 14 portraits represents only a small proportion of the women who served as first ladies, official hostesses, or in the case of Henrietta Maria, the inspiration for the very name of Maryland.
As you will discover, it is far from complete. There are many women who, over the years, have lived and worked in this house whose images are missing. We welcome additional biographical information about them and encourage gifts or loans of their portraits and photographs. We plan to develop a research project and archive at the State Archives that will document their lives. They deserve to be better known and their contributions celebrated.
Indeed, we see this exhibit as merely the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing and growing tribute to those who made the Governor's residence a friendly place to visit and an integral part of the public life of the capital city.
I am very pleased that in the short time that we have had to get the word out, we have already received a lovely photographic portrait of Alice Carter Bowie, wife of Governor Oden Bowie and the first occupant of the present Government House. She lived here from 1870 to 1872. Her photograph was lent to us by her grandson, Oden Bowie, Secretary of the Senate. We look forward to other such discoveries and welcoming new faces of the former occupants back to Government House.
There are many people who have helped with the exhibition, some of whom are here today. I would like to recognize and thank the Maryland State Archives staff who devoted their time and talents to this project, especially Elaine Rice, Curator of Artistic Property, and Mimi Calver, Director of Exhibits who designed and installed the exhibit and prepared the brochure which accompanies it.
We are also pleased to have with us this afternoon the Chair of the Maryland Commission for Women, Phyllis B. Trickett. Phyllis was appointed to the Commission in 1983 and has been chairperson for the past five years. She is a civic leader, is active in her community and is a role model for today's woman. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Phyllis Trickett.
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