An important leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Baltimore, “Gussy” Chissell was an officer of the Progressive Women’s Suffrage Club and held a leadership position in the Women’s Cooperative Civic League. Together with her neighbor Margaret Gregory Hawkins and activist Estelle Young, Ms. Chissell played an essential role in the securing the right to vote at a time when Black women were largely excluded from mainstream suffrage efforts. Following passage of the 19th Amendment, Ms. Chissell wrote a recurring column in the Baltimore Afro-American to provide guidance to new African American women voters, held Citizenship Meetings through the Women’s club, and presented lectures on voting and civic responsibility.
With the support of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Ms. Chissell was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Commemorative plaques were placed outside the West Side homes of Ms. Chissell and Ms. Hawkins on Baltimore’s Druid Hill Avenue in 2020, the first in Baltimore dedicated to women’s suffrage and the first highlighting the work and accomplishments of Black suffragists.