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Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910. Papers, 1857-1961: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Radcliffe College
June 1997

© 1997 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Call No.: A-24/M-133
Creator: JULIA (WARD) HOWE, 1819-1910
Title: Papers,1857-1961
Quantity: .75 linear foot, 1/2 file box, 1 folio box

Processing Information:

Processed:August 1980
By:Bert Hartry

Acquisition Information:

Accession number:49-14, 51-44
These papers of Julia (Ward) Howe were given to the Schlesinger Library in 1949 and 1951 by Rosalind Richards JWH's granddaughter. The nine scrapbooks were microfilmed in 1980 under a grant from The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, Worcester, Massachusetts. The remainder of the collection was prepared for microfilming in October 1989 by Bert Hartry and was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.


Access. Unrestricted.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright is held by Radcliffe College for the Schlesinger Library.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the librarys usual procedures.


Julia (Ward) Howe, perhaps best known as the author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," was also active in and widely respected for her leadership in a variety of fields; in her later life she was hailed as the "Grand Old Woman of America." Born in New York City, JWH was tutored at home, attended day school, and was an avid student. In 1843 the married Samuel Gridley Howe, director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind, Boston. SGH did not approve of married women's involvement in public life; JWH therefore spent the next two decades bringing up six children and studying, reading, and writing. Some of her poetry was published anonymously and a play, Leonora, or the World's Own, was produced in New York (1856).
In the autumn of 1861 JWH and SGH were in Washington, D.C., which was filled with recruits preparing for war. At the suggestion of her good friend and minister, James Freeman Clarke, JWH wrote new words to the soldiers' favorite march, "John Brown's Body." The poem was published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862and soon the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the most popular song in the North.
After the Civil War, JWH became active in women's causes. She helped found the New England Woman Suffrage Association (1868) and in 1869 became a leader, along with Lucy Stone, of the American Woman Suffrage Association; she served as president of the Massachusetts (1870-78, 1891-93) and the New England (1868-77, 1893-1910) associations, and was one of the founders of the Woman's Journal. JWH was also extremely active in the women's club movement; she was a founder (1868) and president of the New England Women's Club and of the Association for the Advancement of Women (founded 1873), a convenor of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1890), and first president of its Massachusetts chapter.
An effective speaker, JWH was invited to lecture and preach all over the United States. Many of her lectures were published. She also published numerous poems and articles, was a frequent contributor to the Woman's Journal, edited Sex and Education (1874), and published two books: Memoir of Samuel Gridley Howe (1876) and Life of Margaret Fuller (1883). She was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1908). She died of pneumonia in 1910.
For additional biographical information see the articles in Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), and Dictionary of American Biography (New York, 1932), which include lists of additional sources.


This collection contains correspondence, photographs,memorials, nine scrapbooks, and writings, including reminiscences, speeches, and travel letters. The scrapbooks contain mainly clippings, articles about JWH, her husband, and family; articles, poems, amd lectures by JWH; poems and stories by three daughters; many articles about the "Battle Hymn of the Republic;" and some correspondence.
The papers provide information mainly about JWH and her family, the woman suffrage struggle, the women's club movement, the Association for the Advancement of Women, and the New Orleans World Exposition (1884-1885).
The collection is arranged in the following groups: letters by JWH, letters to JWH, material concerning the New Orleans Exposition, JWH speeches and writings, memorials, miscellaneous, and scrapbooks. Within each group the arrangement is chronological. The scrapbooks were not kept in chronological order and their dates therefore overlap; many of the clippings are not identified as to source or date.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library. See Julia Ward Howe Family Papers, 1787-1984 (MC 272) and Howe family Additional papers, 1758-1984 (MC 730).

Additional catalog entries

The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases.
Elliott, Maud (Howe), 1854-1948
Hall, Florence Marion (Howe), 1845-1922
Homans, E.L. (Mrs. Charles)
Richards, Laura Elizabeth (Howe), 1850-1943
Smith, Julia (Holmes), 1839-1930
Whiting, Lilian, 1847-1942
Wolcott, Henrietta L. T.
Association for the Advancement of Women
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Cheney, Ednah Dow (Littlehale), 1824-1904
Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888
Europe--Description and travel--1800-1918
Howe, Samuel Gridley, 1801-1876
New England Women's Club
New Orleans World Exposition, 1884-1885
Women--Societies and clubs

Other Descriptive Data