September 7: Charlotte Everett Wise Hopkins (1935)

Charlotte Hopkins was a civic leader, philanthropist and social reformer in the District of Columbia. She was a tireless crusader for the betterment of the District’s poor and working class citizens. Charlotte was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but her family moved to Washington when she was an infant. Her distinguished ancestry could be traced back to the Mayflower. Her grandfather, Edward Everett, was a great American orator of the 19th Century. He is probably best known for speaking two hours at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg just prior to President Lincoln’s two-minute speech. Charlotte Everett Wise married Archibald Hopkins at Epiphany on November 14, 1878. Mr. Hopkins was a lawyer and served as clerk of the U.S. Court of Claims. Over the next several years, all four of the couple’s children were baptized at Epiphany and the burial of their last child, age five, occurred there.

From Frances Cleveland to Eleanor Roosevelt, Charlotte Hopkins engaged every first lady in her work to improve the plight of Washington’s working class. She served as chairman of the Woman’s Department of the National Civic Federation, president of the Home for Incurables, board member of the United States Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeth’s Hospital), chairman of the D.C. Housing Commission, and a trustee of the Society for the Preservation of Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty. Hopkins fought to eradicate alley slums in the District of Columbia. She is credited with educating First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson on this issue, resulting in Wilson’s support of the Ellen Wilson Memorial Homes. She was also instrumental in the formation of the Washington Committee on Housing (later the Washington Planning and Housing Association) and the passage of the Alley Dwelling Elimination Act in 1934.

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