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Allegany County
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Anna McCleave,1860-1948

Anna McCleave Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Anna McCleave, 1860-1948

In 1921 the Cumberland Mayor and City Council voted to have a woman, Anna McCleave, fill the position of Cumberland Police and Fire Commissioner. This was to fill a vacancy created by the death of the elected councilman and would be the first time since the 1835 establishment of a Cumberland City Council that a woman would serve in this position.

Mrs. McCleave had been active in the Red Cross during World War I and at one time was actually appointed to serve as a policewoman by the city's police chief during the war when many officers were serving overseas. The Cumberland Evening Times reported that it was believed she was the first and only policewoman to serve in that capacity in Cumberland (city records indicate that the first policewomen were officially hired in 1956). Women were ecstatic. Anna considered the vote a "great compliment", but withheld her acceptance. Opposition came from those who felt that a woman police commissioner would be hard to "approach" when it came to a strict enforcement of city ordinances.

It was also noted that Mrs. McCleave was not a registered voter. The fact that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting the vote to women had only be passed by Congress in 1919, ratified in 1920, and the city had not taken any steps to register women since its passage made little difference.

Anna McCleave, though citing her appreciation, eventually declined the offer noting household duties and other activities pre-empted the attention that would be needed to fulfill her responsibilities to the position. It would not be until 1950, with the election of Lucille Roeder as Commissioner of Streets and Property, that a woman would serve on the Cumberland City Council.

...From an article by James Rada, Jr. in his "Looking Back" column entitled, "Cumberland's first councilwoman would not serve", Cumberland Times-News, June 4, 2007.


Text - James Rada, Jr.

The Cumberland City Hall was built at a cost of $87,000 during the years 1911-1912. It officially opened for business on March 25, 1912 with the initiation of its first city council meeting.

Postcard from the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein.

Collection Location:
Allegany County

Allegany County (Md.)--Biography; Allegany County (Md.)--Women.

Allegany County, (Md.)

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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