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MC 240

Billings, Addie Melvina Stephenson, 1858-1948. Papers of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, 1875-1948: 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.: MC 240
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, 1858-1948
Title: Papers of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, 1875-1948
Date(s): 1875-1948
Quantity: .21 linear feet (1/2 file box) plus 1 folio+ folder)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, photographs, etc., of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, teacher.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 1196
The papers of Addie Melvina Billings were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in July 1967 by Margaret Gettys Hall.

Processing Information:

Processed: January, 1977
By: Donna M. Whalen

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings 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:

Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings Papers, 1875-1948; item description, dates. MC 240, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


Addie Melvina Stephenson was born January 4, 1858 in Pecatonica, Illinois. In 1876 she studied at Iowa State Normal School in Cedar Falls; she taught school in various towns in Iowa until 1880, when she married Elmore M. Billings, an attorney, and moved to Geneva, Nebraska. Here Billings acted as her husband's secretary and became familiar with the law; she was also a correspondent for Omaha newspapers.
In 1887, Billings was admitted to the bar in Nebraska and became her husband's law partner. Later she was also certified to practice law in Iowa. The Billings' moved to Benicia, California in 1891; as her husband's health was failing, Billings joined Wallace Rutherford in legal practice in Napa. In 1908 the Billings' invested in a wine vineyard near Calistoga. For several years Billings was Executive Secretary of the California Grape Protective Association, giving speeches throughout the state urging Californians to vote against the ratification of the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment to the federal Constitution. After the death of her husband in 1920, Billings moved to Berkeley so that her two adopted daughters, Dorothy and Margaret, could attend the University of California; Billings herself worked as an agent for the Northern Insurance Company. She was an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 50 years, and a staunch Republican. She was also the author of Civil Government of Nebraska Tabulated (1886).


This small collection, arranged chronologically, provides a very incomplete record and leaves many questions unanswered (for instance, there is a photograph of an adopted son but no other mention of him), but it does give some idea of the long, active and varied life of a lawyer who is typical of many of her contemporaries because of the informality of her training and the westward movement of her life.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Grape industry--California
Presidents--United States--Election--1896
Silver question
Women lawyers
California Grape Protective Association
Order of the Eastern Star