Maria Longworth (Nichols) Storer (1849-1932) pushed social boundaries and had a lasting impact on Cincinnati. Maria was a philanthropist and a talented artist who worked in clay to form decorative pottery and tapped beautiful pictures on thin pieces of copper. She was an accomplished pianist who played solos or accompanied other musicians at concerts. She established a successful international business, the Rookwood Pottery Company, in an era when women were to be domestically rather than corporately focused. She became a celebrity because of this enterprise and helped make Cincinnati an art center of the country.
With her second husband Bellamy’s political career, Maria put aside her business. On the national stage, she became a social hostess with close friendships with Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft. On the international stage, as an ambassador’s wife, she influenced American diplomatic policy regarding its relations with the Vatican, after the Spanish American War. In 1906 she was humiliated when her husband was fired from his post as Ambassador to Austria-Hungary because of her lack of discretion. Maria remained intimately involved in her religion by giving money for religious art, supporting educational activities, publishing Catholic-centric articles/books, and offering unsolicited advice to church officials.
During World War I, she directed international charitable efforts for military healthcare and displaced persons. She founded a woman’s group of 17,500 members that raised over $3.5 million for war relief. She assisted the Vatican’s efforts to locate soldiers who were missing or prisoners of war.
After the war, she became a peace activist. Her desire for a world without war touched the thoughts of many in the 1920s with little reaction. Her advocacy for peace never ceased.
Colonel Constance J. (CJ) Moore, U.S. Army, Retired, is a 25-year Army psychiatric nurse, who always wanted to write a book. She became acquainted with Nancy Broermann who told her about Maria Longworth Storer. The two decided to research and write a biography about this complex, brilliant woman. In 2019, the University of Cincinnati Press published their book entitled, Maria Longworth Storer: from Music and Art to Popes and Presidents.