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This is a contributing entry for Virginia Women in History - Northern Virginia Region and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

Mary A. Marshall advocated public education and equal rights as a member of the General Assembly for more than twenty years, and Arlington County recognized her work on behalf of its residents when it named a community-based assisted living residence in her honor.


  • Photograph courtesy of the Library of Virginia.
  • The Library of Virginia honored Mary Marhsall as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2018.
  • The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019

Mary A. Marshall (June 14, 1921–October 15, 1992) represented Arlington County in the House of Delegates from 1966 to 1969 and again from 1972 until 1991. After studying political science at Swarthmore College, from which she graduated with honors, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II. The mother of three daughters, Marshall got involved in politics during the 1950s to keep Arlington's public schools open when the state's policy of Massive Resistance threatened to close schools that obeyed federal court orders to desegregate. She sponsored voter registration drives and was the first woman elected chair of the county's Democratic Committee before winning election to the General Assembly.                 

Marshall was a strong supporter of public education, health care, help for the mentally ill, and issues relating to children and the environment. During the 1970s she was a leader in the unsuccessful attempt to have the General Assembly ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Smart and funny, Marshall was a skilled legislator and served on some of the most important House committees, including Privileges and Elections. For her last six years in the assembly she was chair of the Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns, which was of critical interest to her Northern Virginia constituents, and during her last term she was also a member of the influential House Committee on Appropriations. Considered one of Northern Virginia's most effective delegates and sometimes spoken of as the likely first female Speaker of the House, Marshall retired from politics in 1991.         

Reprinted by permission of the Library of Virginia.