The Wilson House Mystery
August 31, 2020
Mystery Solved and a
New Contest!
The mystery has been solved! Kudos to Edward Duffy for exceptional detective work in finding the answer. We want to thank all of you for your input and suggestions. The mystery woman is none of the women we thought it could be - not Edith, Helen Bones, Mrs. Peck or any of the others - her name is:

Philena Fobes Fine

Philena Fine was the wife of Henry B. Fine, a close friend and ally of Woodrow Wilson who appointed him Dean of the College at Princeton. Philena and Henry Fine entertained Wilson for tea after he cast his vote for New Jersey Women's Suffrage.

These two news articles were the key to solving the mystery:
Clue #1: This article from the Daily Princetonian on October 19, 1915, notes that Wilson visited Dean Fine after voting.
...After Voting, the President paid a visit to Professer W.U. Vreeland and later to Dean Fine," -Daily Princetonian, Tuesday, October 19, 1915.
Clue #2: The New Castle News captioned their photo with more information:
Wilson returning from the polls where he is said to have cast his vote for the suffrage amendment at Princeton, N.J. walking with Mrs. Henry B. Fine, wife of Prof. Fine of Princeton University," -New Castle News, Thursday, October 21, 1915.
Caption Contest!
It is clear that the photo we have been examining for the past few weeks embodies an extraordinary historical moment. Woodrow Wilson had just cast his vote for New Jersey Women's Suffrage. He is having an animated discussion with Mrs. Fine; while we'll never know what they were really saying to each other, it would be fun to guess!
Please send us your best caption idea for the photo - the wittier the better!
Post your captions on Facebook or email us at
Philena Fine is featured in Suffrage Outside!, Sept 10 - Nov 1
Suffrage Outside!, a new outdoor exhibition in our marvelous garden, features 20 giant images with explanations of the real story of how suffrage came to pass. The exhibition brings history outside to showcase how women’s work outside the home, public protests outside in the streets, mobilization for war and alliances with activists outside the United States, and the work and leadership of Black women pushed outside the ‘mainstream’ movement, collectively propelled the American woman’s suffrage campaign to victory in 1920.
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