KATHARINE LEE BATES, American songwriter, born (d: 1929); Bates is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem “America the Beautiful”. She popularized Mrs. Santa Claus through her poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride (1889). Bates was born in Falmouth Massachusetts, the daughter of a Congregational pastor. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1880 and for many years was a professor of English literature at Wellesley. While teaching there, she was elected a member of the newly formed Pi Gamma Mu honor society for the social sciences because of her interest in history and politics, which she had also studied.
Bates lived at Wellesley with Katharine Coman, who was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College Economics department. The pair lived together for twenty-five years until Coman’s death in 1915. It is debated whether their relationship was an intimate lesbian relationship as different sources maintain or platonic (sometimes called a “Boston Marriage”) as the local historical society of her birthplace maintains. In the years following Coman’s death, Bates wrote Yellow Clover: A Book of Remembrance, to Katharine Coman. Almost all the poems there contained refer to the relationship between Bates and Coman. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Fundamentalists continue to conveniently ignore the fact that one of their favorite American “hymns” was written by a Lesbian.