Martha McClellan Brown: Prohibition Leader

Martha McClellan Brown was  a highly effective organizational leader in advancing the temperance movement.

Martha McClellan was born in 1838 in Baltimore. She was orphaned by age eight.  She and her sister were raised by a neighbor. At age 18 she married the Reverend W. Kennedy Brown. Shortly after, she began college and graduated from Pittsburg Female College in 1862.

Independent Order of Good Templars

In 1861 she had joined the Independent Order of Good Templars. This was a fraternal group modeled after the Masonic Order. It was dedicated to total abstinence from alcohol. She advanced quickly in the Order and became prominent. Among other activities, she edited the Templar Visitor, a magazine published by the Order. She and her husband also  published their own temperance newspaper, Alliance Monitor.

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

In 1874, Martha McClellan Brown led the founding of a state-wide women’s temperance society in Ohio. The same year, she and two other women formed a nation-wide women’s temperance group. It was the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Prohibition Party

Martha McClellan Brown also served the Prohibition Party well in important positions. In so doing, she advanced the temperance movement.

Martha McClellan Brown

Independent Order of Good Templars

Martha McClellan Brown held  Ph.D. and L.L.D. degrees. She served as  professor and vice-president at the Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati from 1882 to 1892. Her husband was president of the college during that time.  It was one of the oldest women’s colleges in the US, having been  founded in  1853. But like many other colleges, it was not financially strong. In the last year of Reverend Brown’s presidency, it was forced to close. The real estate was sold for taxes. The remaining assets became part of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Martha McClellan Brown completed three lecture tours in Great Britain promoting temperance. That was in 1881, 1891, and 1911. She died in 1916, before National Prohibition was established in 1920.


Brown, Martha McClellan. Ohio Memory.

Brown, Martha McClellan.  Encyclopedia Britannia

James, E. Brown, Martha McClellan. Notable American Women 1607-1950.   Vol. 1, A – F.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard U Press, 1971.

Shotwell,  J.  A History of the Schools of Cincinnati. Cincinnati: School life Co., 1902.