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A-147; M-133

Owens, Helen Brewster, 1881-1968. Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1968: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: A-147; M-133
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Title: Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1968
Date(s): 1867-1968
Quantity: 4.38 linear feet (10+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 2 supersize folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, scrapbooks, speeches, etc., of Helen Brewster Owens, mathematician and suffragist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 789, 75-54, 88-M177
The bulk of these papers was given to the Schlesinger Library in 1964 by Helen Brewster Owens. The small collection numbered A/O97 has been integrated. Most of the biographical material in #1 was obtained by the Library in 1988. The collection was reprocessed and Series I, II, III, and a portion of IV were microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: December 1988
By: Bert Hartry


Access. Folders #144-161 are open for research. Folders #1-143 are closed; use microfilm M-133.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Helen Brewster Owens as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


Dates and/or other information have been written on some items by a number of people. In organizing the material, the processor accepted dates added by others. All dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.
The pages of some items were numbered to aid the microfilmer, the proofreaders, and researchers.
The film was proofread by University Publications of America.
Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film due to such problems as flimsy paper with text showing through, faint pencil signatures, creased and brittle paper, faded or blurred carbon copies, and colored paper. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.
The reverse sides of outdated letterhead and form letters were sometimes used by Owens for carbon copies, drafts, or notes; print may show through.
Carbon copies of letters to different recipients sometimes appear on the same sheet (front and back).
In many cases, the enclosures referred to in letters are missing.
Letters of one or more pages with either the salutation or the signature missing, as well as portions of letters, have been marked as fragments.

Preferred Citation:

Helen Brewster Owens Papers, 1867-1968; item description, dates. A-147, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Helen Brewster Owens Additional papers, 1882-1958 (MC 858).


Helen Brewster Owens, mathematician and suffragist, was born on April 2, 1881, in Pleasanton, Kansas, the daughter of Clara (Linton) and Robert Edward Brewster. Her mother, a teacher, was president of the Linn County Women's Suffrage Association, and in 1893 Owens, then a young girl, helped her distribute suffrage literature at the county fair. Little else is known about her childhood and adolescence. Her adult life is reflected in the following chronology.
Owens was a member of Sigma Xi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Pi Mu Epsilon, American Association of University Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Mathematical Association of America, American Mathematical Society, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Little is known about her life after her retirement in 1949.
For additional biographical information see Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-1915, edited by John William Leonard (New York: American Commonwealth Co., 1914), pages 615-16. There is Owens correspondence in the Mary Winston papers at the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in four series:


This collection has been divided into four series: Personal and biographical, Suffrage, Post-suffrage women's activities, and Women in mathematics and the sciences.
The papers provide information about Owens' involvement in the New York and Kansas suffrage campaigns and the Woman's Centennial Congress, her interest in the World Center for Women's Archives, and her research on women in mathematics and the sciences. In the papers given to the library by Owens there is little or no information about her personal life (childhood, adolescence, education, marriage, or children).
Series I, Personal and biographical, 1902-1968, n.d. (#1-5), includes photocopies of clippings and other material gathered by the processor from the educational institutions at which Owens studied or taught, correspondence with her family, one letter from Catharine Waugh McCulloch, a wedding announcement, and Owens' speeches and other writings.
Series II, Suffrage, 1867, 1895, 1907-1926, n.d. (#6-120), is divided into the following sections: New York State (1867, 1907-1917), Kansas (1909-1914), miscellaneous, and material removed from two scrapbooks. The bulk of the material (#6-58) is New York State correspondence. There are also organizational records, itineraries, reports, lists, schedules, notes, broadsides (including foreign language ones), pamphlets, posters, clippings, suffrage songs, maps, vote tallies, press releases, constitutions of suffrage organizations, and programs.
The items in the scrapbooks were removed for preservation purposes and to facilitate microfilming. The scrapbooks had not been kept in any discernible order; the processor arranged the material in the same order as that of the other sections in this series. Material can include broadsides, fliers, programs, clippings, and songs.
Series III, Post-suffrage women's activities, 1936-1948, n.d. (#121-128), is divided into the following sections: Woman's Centennial Congress (1940); World Center for Women's Archives; Gallant American Women, an NBC radio series (1940); and miscellaneous. The material consists of correspondence, newsletters, programs, reports, schedules, etc., and is arranged chronologically within each section.
Series IV, Women in mathematics and the sciences, 1906-1962, n.d. (#129-161), is divided as follows: correspondence, questionnaires, lists, speeches, clippings, draft of book, and writings (dissertations and articles) by women mathematicians. These dissertations and articles were not microfilmed; some were assembled for Woman's Centennial Congress in1940, and the World Center for Women's Archives. Correspondence includes letters from Mary Winston Newson, Anna Pell Wheeler, Emily Fogg Mead, Winifred Edgerton Merrill, and Ruth R. Struik, some regarding "Women in Mathematics" questionnaires. The writings and the questionnaires are arranged alphabetically by author, the other sections chronologically.
An index of selected correspondents in Series I, II, and III follows the inventory. Although there is correspondence in all four series, only the series pertaining to Owens' suffrage and women's rights activities (the three series that appear on the microfilm) have been indexed.
Most clippings were discarded after microfilming.



This index includes the names of selected writers (including organizations) and recipients. Information about persons and subjects is not indexed.
The numbers refer to folders.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Non-governmental organizations
Scientists--United States
Woman voter
Woman's Centennial Congress (1940 : New York, N.Y.)
Woman's journal (Boston, Mass. : 1870)
Women--Education--United States
Women immigrants--Legal status, laws, etc.
Women in science--United States
Women mathematicians
Women scientists
Women--Societies and clubs
Women--Suffrage--New York (State)
Women--Suffrage--Songs and music
Women--Suffrage--United States
Women's rights
Angell, Pauline K.
Avery, Rachel Foster, 1858-1919
Babcock, Caroline L. (Caroline Lexow), 1882-1980
Baldwin, Kati M. S.
Barton, Belle
Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958
Blackwell, Alice Stone, 1857-1950
Blake, Katherine Devereux, 1858-1950
Blatch, Harriot Stanton, 1856-1940
Borden, Marjorie
Brewster, Anna Louise
Brewster, Clara Linton
Brown, Gertrude Foster, 1867-1956
Burrows, Roxana
Cannon, Jenny Curtis
Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (U.S.)
Dankin, Pauline M.
Dean, Addie M.
Decker, Janet
Denison, Lotta Jones
Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947
Dreier, Katherine Sophie, 1877-1952
Eacker, Helen N.
Empire State Campaign Committee (New York, N.Y.)
Equal Franchise Society
Farrar, Frances
Farrington, Anna C.
Fisher, Anna W.
Funk, Antoinette
Gapen, Flora
Gore, Frances Field
Hamilton, Cora Perry
Hansl, Eva Elise vom Baur, 1889-1978
Hopewell, Florence
Hopper, Grace Murray
Howes, Ethel Puffer, 1872-1950
Howorth, Lucy Somerville, 1895-1997
Huffcut, Lillian
International Woman Suffrage Alliance
Johnston, Lucy B.
Kansas Equal Suffrage Association
King, Florence
Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), 1874-1949
Laidlaw, James Lees
Lee, Helen K.
Lemmi, Elizabeth C.
Livermore, Henrietta W.
Livermore, Leila J.
McCormick, Ruth
McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945
McEwan, Katherine L.
McKinnon, Mary L.
McNamara, Helen C.
Mansfield, Helen C.
Manus. Maye W.
Men's League for Woman Suffrage
Mills, Harriet May
Mott, Isabella
Mott, Ruth N. J.
Nathan, Maud, 1862-1946
National American Woman Suffrage Association
National Broadcasting Company, inc.
National College Equal Suffrage League
New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage
New York State Woman Suffrage Association
Newson, Mary Frances Winston, 1869-1959
Norton, Jessie
Olcott, Jane
Owens, Frederick William, 1880-1961
Paul, Alice, 1885-1977
Peck, Mary Gray, 1867?-1957
Putnam, George Haven, 1844-1930
Ryan, Agnes, 1878-1954
Seabring, Lena S.
Schlingheyde, Clara M.
Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919
Shuler, Nettie Rogers, 1862-1939
Topliff, Margaret
VanDer Cook, Frances
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
Welles, Mary Sayre
White, William Allen, 1868-1944
Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957
Woman Suffrage Party of New York City
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Women's Political Union of New Jersey
Woodhouse, Chase Going, 1890-1984
World Center for Women's Archives
Yeomans, Mabel Ford