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A-50; M-133; M-52

Somerville, Nellie Nugent, 1863-1952. Somerville and Howorth family papers, 1850-1974: 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-50; M-133; M-52
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Nellie Nugent Somerville, 1863-1952
Title: Somerville and Howorth family papers, 1850-1974
Date(s): 1850-1974
Quantity: 6.17 linear feet (2 cartons, 10 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 2 supersize folders, 1 folio volume, 6 oversize volumes, 7 reels of microfilm)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Diaries, correspondence, photographs, etc., of Nellie (Nugent) Somerville, suffragist and temperance worker; her daughter Lucy (Somerville) Howorth, lawyer; and other female family members in Mississippi.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 52-60, 53-20, 54-60, 54-73, 54-79, 55-75, 56-12, 56-30, 56-93, 57-17, 57-73, 57-83, 57-95, 59-22, 59-52, 118, 321, 375, 384, 426, 430, 448, 571, 574, 575, 577, 928, 1238, 74-97, 74-138
The Somerville-Howorth papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Lucy (Somerville) Howorth beginning in 1952. Most of Series I and II was reprocessed in 1979 and microfilmed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center; this microfilm (M-52) is included in the Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project. An expanded biography and scope and content note were added in October 1989 by Jane Ward.

Processing Information:

Processed: 1979
By: Eva Moseley

Conditions Governing Access:

Access. Folders 1-69a+ are closed; use microfilm M-133. The remainder of the collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Somerville and Howorth family is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.

Preferred Citation:

Somerville and Howorth family Papers, 1850-1974; item description, dates. A-50, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional papers of the Somerville and Howorth family, 1850-1989 (591--2008-M37; Vt-6).


The Somerville-Howorth papers span six generations of Mississippi women, but are primarily the papers of Nellie (Nugent) Somerville (1863-1952) and her daughter, Lucy (Somerville) Howorth (1895-1997).
Nellie Nugent Somerville was born September 25, 1863, on a plantation in Mississippi; her father was serving in the Confederate Army at the time. Her mother died two years later, and her father was widowed again after a brief second marriage; Somerville was raised primarily by her grandmother, S. Myra (Cox) Smith, until her father's third marriage in 1870. Somerville spent two years at a Mississippi boarding school and graduated from Martha Washington College in Abingdon, Virginia, in 1880. She married Robert Somerville in 1885; they had four children: Robert, Abram, Eleanor, and Lucy.
Somerville became active in suffrage and temperance work in the early 1890s, becoming corresponding secretary of the Mississippi Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1894 and organizing the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association in 1897. By 1915 she was a vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1923 she became the first woman to be elected to the Mississippi legislature, serving until 1927. Somerville died in Mississippi in 1952. For additional biographical information, see Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: 1980), which also includes a list of sources.
Lucy Somerville Howorth was born July 1, 1895, in Greenville, Mississippi, the youngest of the four children of Robert Somerville and Nellie Nugent Somerville. Educated at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Howorth did postgraduate work at Columbia University and received her J.D. from the University of Mississippi in 1922; she was admitted to the Mississippi bar the same year. Howorth practiced law in Mississippi, 1922-1934, and was admitted to the bar before the United States Supreme Court in 1934. In 1928 she married Joseph Marion Howorth; they had no children.
Howorth served as the chairman of the Mississippi State Board of Law Examiners, 1924-1928; the United States commissioner of the Southern Judicial District of Mississippi, 1927-1931; a member of the Mississippi state legislature, 1932-1936; associate member of the Board of Veterans' Appeals, 1934-1943; legislative attorney in Virginia, 1943-1949; general counsel to the War Claims Commission, 1949-1954; attorney, Commission on Government Security, 1956-1957; and a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, 1962-1963. She has maintained a private law practice in Mississippi since 1958. In 1977, Howorth co-edited Dear Nellie: The Civil War Letters of William L. Nugent, correspondence between her maternal grandparents.
Howorth has been a member of the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Mississippi Historical Society, and numerous other organizations. For additional biographical information, see Who's Who of American Women, 1987-1988 (Wilmette, Ill., 1986).


The collection is arranged in five series:


The collection includes biographical material, diaries, letters, speeches, memorabilia, clippings, and photographs, and is divided into five series. Only Series I and Series II were microfilmed in 1979, and only those two series are included in the SL/UPA microfilm.
Series I, Genealogical and early family records, contains a genealogy of Nellie Nugent Somerville by Keith (Frazier) Somerville, daughter-in-law of Somerville; the diaries (1852-68) of S. Myra (Cox) Smith, Somerville's grandmother; correspondence between Somerville's parents, Eleanor (Smith) Nugent and William L. Nugent; and miscellaneous family papers and newsclippings.
Series II, Nellie Nugent Somerville, is divided into four sections: Biographical, Correspondence, Writings, and Organizations.
The Biographical section (folders 19-24, volumes 7-18) contains scrapbooks of clippings by and about Somerville, notebooks, and diaries.
Correspondence (25-35) includes letters to and from family members, as well as from Anna Howard Shaw, James O. Eastland, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the American Association of University Women, the Mississippi State Democratic Party, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the First Southern Methodist Church (Memphis). Also included here are letters of condolence to Somerville's children after her death.
Writings (36-49) includes typescript and manuscript speeches and articles on such subjects as suffrage, religion, prohibition, and democracy, as well as letters to the editor.
Organizations (50-69a+, vols. 19o-25) is arranged alphabetically, and contains material from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Democratic National Convention of 1924, the Greenville M.E. Church Methodist Industrial Association, the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, National American Woman Suffrage Association, and other organizations in which Somerville was involved.
Series III, Lucy Somerville Howorth, is divided into eight sections:
1. Biographical (71-96), including personal items, photographs, clippings, etc. of Howorth.
2. Correspondence (97-117): letters from family members (including one folder of letters from Somerville), and from others (arranged alphabetically by correspondent).
3. Legal Work and Women in the Law (118-129) includes work record books of Howorth, and material from the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the United Nations League of Lawyers, and other lawyers' organizations.
4. Organizations (130-147, alphabetical) includes minutes and some correspondence.
5. Business and Professional Women's Clubs (148-154) concerns the various state, national, and international branches of the Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.
6. Speeches and Articles (155-222) is arranged chronologically.
7. Memorabilia (223-227af+, vol. 26o) contains invitations, souvenirs, dinner programs, clippings, a scrapbook, certificates, licenses, family trees, etc.
8. An eighth section (228-260) contains additional Howorth speeches, articles, and correspondence, all arranged chronologically; these were received after Sections 1-7 were organized.
Series IV, Other Family Members, contains clippings about Howorth's two brothers, Robert Somerville and Abram Douglas Somerville, her sister-in-law, Keith (Frazier) Somerville, and the Shands family (Somerville's granddaughters).
Series V, Photographs, includes photos of Somerville; her parents and earlier ancestors; her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; and miscellaneous photos.
Much of the material in the collection is accompanied by Howorth's comments as to its value or the reason why it is included.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Democratic National Convention (1924 : New York, N.Y.)
International Congress of Working Women
Mississippi--Social life and customs
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate
United States--Officials and employees
Woman's Centennial Congress (1940 : New York, N.Y.)
Women in church work--Mississippi
Women in the civil service--United States
Women lawyers--United States
Women--Political activity
Women--Societies and clubs
Women--Southern states
Women--Suffrage--United States
American Association of University Women
Assembly of Women's Organizations for National Security
Bilbo, Theodore Gilmore, 1877-1947
Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973
Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Jackson, Miss.
Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Washington, D.C.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962
Donlon, Mary
Edwards, India
Faulkner, William, 1897-1962
First Methodist Church (Greenville, Miss.)
Harrison, Ella, 1859-1933
Howorth, Lucy Somerville, 1895-1997
Hughes, Sarah T. (Sarah Tilghman), 1896-1985
International Council of Women
International Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
Kendall, Mary Louise
Kross, Anna Moscowitz
Methodist Church--Mississippi
Mississippi. Legislature. House of Representatives
Mississippi Woman's Suffrage Association
Mississippi Woman's Christian Temperance Union
National American Woman Suffrage Association
National Association of Women Lawyers
National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
Nugent, Eleanor Fulkerson Smith, 1844-1866
Nugent, William Lewis, 1832-1897
Randolph-Macon Woman's College
Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895-1989
Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919
Smith, S. Myra Cox, 1822-1887
Somerville, Keith Frazier
Thomson, Amelia Lewis, 1799-
United Daughters of the Confederacy
United States. Veterans Administration
Woodward, Ellen S. (Ellen Sullivan)
Young Women's Christian Association of Mississippi.