Title Image
  As First Lady & Official Hostess 
Picture of Women Rallying
This display is part of an ongoing biographical research project dedicated to the study of the role of First Lady throughout Maryland history and to the documentation of the lives of the women who served in this capacity.  First and foremost, the First Lady was a hostess who extended Maryland hospitality to both local and international visitors.  Through the years, she displayed her talents as a community leader, as well as an ambassador of Maryland heritage and culture.  The women selected for this exhibit represent only four out of the forty-six First Ladies and five Official Hostesses that have served since 1776.  The Maryland State Archives continues to research the lives of Maryland First Ladies with the hope of building a repository of biographical data and material artifacts which will lead to a more complete understanding of the roles these women played in the state’s history.
Click images for larger view
     Mrs. Emma Nicodemus Warfield, 
wife of Governor Edwin Warfield 
Picture of Lady's Fan
Tiffany and Co., New York
Lady's Fan, ca. 1905
Collection of Emma Warfield
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 3913]
(Velanosky Collection)
Emma Nicodemus Warfield, wife of Governor Edwin Warfield, was First Lady of Maryland from 1904 until 1908.  The Warfields were active and visible members of the Annapolis community.  Mrs. Warfield hosted many visitors, including prominent Annapolitans, members of the legislature, and nationally known figures.  Although described as shy and more eager to entertain a close circle of friends than a large gathering, Emma Warfield took up the role of hostess with grace and charm.  She was lauded in contemporary newspaper accounts as "handsome, bright and animated . . . well fitted for the high position she is to fill."
Picture of Invitation
Invitation to Government House, May 9, 1907 
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 4494-1-32]
(First Ladies Photograph Collection) 
Courtesy, Mark Twain Project, The Bancroft Library
In March 1907, Emma Nicodemus Warfield began to correspond with Mr. Samuel Clemens, better known as one of America’s greatest authors, Mark Twain.  Mrs. Warfield asked Mr. Clemens to pay a visit to the “quaint, old historical town,” of Annapolis, and she extended an invitation to him to stay at the executive mansion, tour the Naval Academy, and sail on the Governor’s yacht.  Mr. Clemens accepted this offer and came to Annapolis in May 1907.
Picture of Mrs. Warfield & Mark Twain
Mrs. Warfield & Mark Twain (Mr. Samuel Clemens)
The Baltimore News, May 11, 1907
Color Digital Reproduction
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 2890]
During his visit to Annapolis, Mark Twain performed a benefit for the First Presbyterian Church at the request of Emma Warfield.   The entertainment was held in the House of Delegates chamber on the evening of May 10, 1907, his first public appearance in eleven years, and one which, he promised would be his last.  Although Twain was originally invited to speak in the drawing room of Government House, the presentation was moved to the State House due to the enormous audience.  Mrs. Warfield's arrangements, coupled with Mr. Twain's immense popularity, secured six hundred dollars for the church treasury. 
Mrs. Mary Ridgely Preston Brown, 
wife of Governor Frank Brown
Picture of Mary Ridgely Preston Brown
Mary Ridgely Preston Brown, ca. 1875
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 2034-4]
(Governor Frank Brown Family Bible and Photo Collection)
Mary Ridgely Preston Brown was born on February 23, 1857 to David and Mary R. Ridgely of Baltimore.  She was educated at private schools in Baltimore, and finished her education abroad in Wiesbaden.  On June 12, 1877, she married Horatio Wyman Preston, but their marriage was short lived, as Mr. Preston died on October 13, 1878.  On December 22, 1879, the young widow married Frank Brown of Carroll County.  The Browns had two children, Mary (nicknamed May) and Frank Jr.
Pastel of Mary Ridgely Preston Brown
Norval H. Busey
Mary Ridgely Preston Brown, 1880
Pastel on paper, 30 x 25 in.
Maryland Commission on Artistic Property 
of the Maryland State Archives 
[MSA SC 1545-1068]
Mary Ridgely Preston Brown became First Lady of Maryland when Frank Brown was elected Governor in 1892.  She presided over residences in Carroll County, Baltimore City, and Annapolis with "with rare grace and diplomacy.”  The executive mansion during Frank Brown's administration was a place "where parties and receptions went on without end.”  The Browns also enjoyed their proximity to the Naval Academy, and would decorate their carriage for the Navy football games.  Mrs. Clarence Marbury White, a contemporary Annapolitan, remembers "one time when the Army-Navy game was to be played at the Academy, Mrs. Brown with her guests visited the dry goods store and bought every bolt of blue and gold ribbon.”  Tragically, Mrs. Brown’s health began to fail during her tenure as First Lady, and she died on May 11, 1895.
Miss Mary "May" Ridgely Brown, 
daughter of Governor and Mrs. Frank Brown
Picture of Mary “May” Ridgely Brown
Mary “May” Ridgely Brown, ca. 1880
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 2034-1]
(Governor Frank Brown Family Bible and Photo Collection)
With Frank Brown still in office, their daughter Mary “May” Ridgely Brown began to assume more of the duties as Official Hostess.  She was assisted by her grandmother, the governor’s mother, Susan A. Bennett Brown.  Although she was only 13 years old, contemporary accounts reveal that May "adequately met all demands upon her, no matter how exacting, winning universal praise as a most tactful, gracious, and magnetic chatelaine".
Mrs. Helen Avalynne Gibson Tawes, 
wife of Governor J. Millard Tawes
Picture of Helen Tawes Cooking Terrapin
Helen Tawes Cooking Terrapin, ca. 1960 
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 4494-1-6]
(First Ladies Photograph Collection)
Courtesy, J. Millard Tawes Museum, Crisfield
Helen Avalynne Gibson Tawes, daughter of Minerva Amerinth and Oliver P. Gibson, was born in Crisfield, Maryland (ca. 1899). At the age of sixteen, she met J. Millard Tawes on a hayride, and the two were married on December 25, 1915.  Millard Tawes won the governorship in 1959.  He brought with him a First Lady with lots of ideas and unique interests.  Mrs. Tawes had been an enthusiastic participant in the Tawes campaign. She laced campaign literature with copies of her favorite recipes for Eastern Shore cuisine hoping that "the way to Maryland voters' hearts was through their stomachs."
My Favorite Maryland Recipes Book Cover
My Favorite Maryland Recipes, Helen Tawes
(Centerville:  Tidewater Publishers, 1997)
Mrs. Tawes extended her culinary influence throughout the state by writing a cookbook, entitled My Favorite Maryland Recipes, in which she revealed her family secrets for preparing traditional Maryland dishes such as blue crabs, terrapin, and oysters. In addition to the recipes, she also shared her personal cooking philosophies which included using simple seasonings in order to prevent overpowering the true taste of the dish as well as the importance of always shucking your own oysters.
Picture of Helen Tawes Autographing Cookbook
Helen Tawes Autographing Cookbook, ca. 1964
Maryland State Archives [MSA SC 4494-1-5]
(First Ladies Photograph Collection)
Courtesy, J. Millard Tawes Museum
Mrs. Tawes' recipes became famous outside of the state after being served in the Maryland Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.  Among the dishes offered was her fast food version of a crab cake---called a "crab burger."  Her cooking talents apparently became world renowned, and she personally took over the Government House kitchen in order to cook a special crock of terrapin soup to send to Sir Winston Churchill who responded with a grateful letter of appreciation.  Mrs. Tawes' efforts to popularize Maryland cuisine culminated in 1964 when the House of Delegates drafted a resolution to commend her for highlighting Maryland as "the land of fine food."
Link to Exhibit Bibliography
Exhibit Bibliography
Maryland State Archives 
350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401 
(410) 260-6400 
 MD toll free (800) 235-4045  
fax: (410) 974-3895 
web site: www.mdarchives.state.md.us
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