Mary Stalcup Markward

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Mary Stalcup Markward
Mary Markward.jpg
Born Mary R. Stalcup
(1922-02-10)February 10, 1922
Fairfax County, Virginia
Died November 23, 1972(1972-11-23) (aged 50)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Cause of death Heart failure
Resting place Baltimore National Cemetery
Occupation Beauty shop and FBI Informant [1]
Known for FBI informant
Spouse(s) George A. Markward
Parent(s) Maria and Benjamin Stalcup

Mary R. Stalcup Markward (February 10, 1922 – November 23, 1972) was for seven years a member of the Washington, DC "District Communist Party" as director of the party's membership. She was actually working undercover for the FBI.[2]


She was born as Mary R. Stalcup to Maria and Benjamin Stalcup on February 10, 1922.[3] Benjamin Stalcup worked as a government bookbinder. Mary lived in Fairfax County, Virginia and was recruited by the FBI in 1943, just a week after her wedding. Her husband, George A. Markward (1912–1969), had been sent to Europe to fight in World War II. She was working in a beauty shop on Massachusetts Avenue.[2][4] She may have been approached to spy because several of her clients were thought to be Communists by the FBI. Her daughter believed that her mother's essay written about her pride in being an American brought her to the attention of the FBI. The essay was published in a local Virginia paper.[2] Markward worked undercover for almost seven years, a time that was stressful for her because she was shunned by friends and family because of her activities with the Party.[4][5]

Markward testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities on July 11, 1951 that Annie Lee Moss and about 240 other people were Communist party members.[5] She provided the names of their spouses and gave the exact dates of party meetings. While her memory of membership and Party activities was largely accurate, Markward did not provide evidence that the Communist Party had any strength in the DC area. At one point in her testimony, she even joked about the Party's inability to recruit young, new members. In the list of members she did provide, there appeared to be a connection between Party membership and civil rights activism; several people whom Markward accused were less involved with communism and more concerned with picketing segregated areas of the city.

Her accusation of Annie Lee Moss is the most remembered; Moss categorically denied membership or collusion with Communists. Moss claimed that she was a victim of mistaken identity; that she was not the only person in Washington named Annie Lee Moss, and the Communist Markward identified was a different Annie Lee Moss.[6]

Mary Stalcup Markward contracted multiple sclerosis early in her life, which caused her to retire from the FBI. Later, FBI officials refused to acknowledge her, and retroactively taxed the income she received as an undercover agent. She died on November 23, 1972 in Silver Spring, Maryland at age 50.[1][7] She was buried in Baltimore National Cemetery.[8]

People named by Markward[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mary Markward, FBI Informant, Dies.". Washington Post. November 25, 1972. Mary Stalcup Markward, a beauty shop operator who became an FBI informant and identified more than 200 persons as Communists during congressional hearings in the early 1950s, died of heart failure Thursday at her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was 50. 
  2. ^ a b c "Pointing the Way in the Hunt for Communists.". Washington Post. July 5, 1999. Retrieved 2007-09-25. Mary Stalcup Markward appeared nervous as she made her way into the cramped hearing room on the morning of July 11, 1951. ... 
  3. ^ 1930 US Census with Stalcups in Fairfax, Virginia
  4. ^ a b "Woman Tells of Outwitting Reds In Seven Years as Agent for F.B.I.". New York Times. July 7, 1951. Retrieved 2008-03-11. Mrs. Mary Stalcup Markward, 29-year-old former beauty shop worker, told today how she worked for nearly seven years as an undercover agent for the Federal 
  5. ^ a b "F.B.I. Woman Limns Hard Lives of Reds. Agent Discloses Communist Party Tactics.". New York Times. July 12, 1951. Retrieved 2008-03-11. A Communist's life is not a happy one, the House committee on Un-American Activities was told today by a young woman who had spent almost seven years as a rank-and-file member of the party while an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
  6. ^ Friedman, Andrea (September 2012). "The strange career of Annie Lee Moss: Rethinking race, gender and McCarthyism". The Journal of American History (Organization of American Historians) 94 (2): 445–468. Retrieved July 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ Social Security Death Index; Mary Markward; b. 10 February 1922 - d. November 1972
  8. ^ "Mary S. Markward". Findagrave. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  9. ^ Fenton, John H. (May 2, 1953). "Witness Insists Officer was Red. Thierman Belonged to Party if She Processed His Card, Ex-F.B.I. Woman Says.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-21. Mrs. Mary Stallcup Markward, a former undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, asserted today it would "not be even remotely possible" for her to have processed the Communist party application card of Lieut. Sheppard Carl Thierman without his already having been accepted as a member.