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
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
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,
Accession number: 1196
The papers of Addie Melvina Billings were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in
July 1967 by Margaret Gettys Hall.
Processed: January, 1977
By: Donna M. Whalen
Access. Collection is open for research.
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.
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.
- 1. Photographs.
Filed with photographs.
- 3 2 1/2"x4" portraits of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings
- 1 2 1/2"x4" photograph: Iowa State Normal School, Cedar Falls
- 1 4"x6" portrait of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings
- 1 4"x6" group portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Elmore M. Billings with their adopted son
- 1 3"x5" snapshot of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings in later years
- 2v. March 12, 1875: Composition book of original poems.
- 3v. 1877: School notebook.
- 4v. 1877: School notebook.
- 5. 1877-1890:
See folio+ folder.
- February 9-October 17, 1877: Six school examinations.
- March 6, 1877: Iowa State Normal School transcript.
- March 31, 1877: Iowa Teacher's Certificate (Bremer County)
- "Course of Study for Schools"
- March 30, 1878: Iowa Teacher's Certificate (Bremer County)
- October 19, 1878: Iowa Teacher's Certificate (Butler County)
- March 29, 1879: Iowa Teacher's Certificate (Bremer County)
- April 3, 1882: Iowa Teacher's Certificate (Bremer County)
- Blank check: Bremer County Bank
- [between 1880 and 1882] ms. notes from days as correspondent from Geneva, Nebraska
for Omaha newspapers
- August 9, 1886: Copyright Certificate from Library of Congress for Civil Government of Nebraska Tabulated
- December 20, 1887: Certificate of Admission to District Courts in the State of Nebraska
- October 28, 1890: Certificate of Admission to Nebraska State Supreme Court.
- 6v. December 25, 1886: Autograph album with entries February 11, 1887-September 6, 1911.
- 7. 1896:
-  ms. notes, "Statistics of 1890"
- 1896: Two typescript speeches re the Silver Question in the 1896 presidential election,
supporting William McKinley and the Republican ticket.
- 8. 1906-1948:
- October 14, 1916: autograph letter, signed, Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings in Los
Angeles to daughters
- October 15, 1916: autograph letter, signed, Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings in San
Diego to daughters
-  pamphlet by Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, "How the Bone Dry National Amendment
Would Affect Me and My Neighbors"
- [after 1920] Form letter: birthday greetings to client of Northern Insurance Company.
(Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings an insurance agent in Berkeley after husband's
death in 1920.)
- June 18 and 28, July 9, 1928: Three letters, signed, Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings
in San Francisco to daughter Dorothy
- January 30, 1937: Certificate of fifty years' membership in Order of the Eastern Star
- October 18, 1938: Certificate of admission to 65th Annual Session of the Grand Chapter
of California Order of the Eastern Star, Oakland
- November 30, 1938: Certificate of Honorary Membership in Order of the Eastern Star
with covering letter
- [During World War II] Anecdote re: Office of Price Administration ruling on chickens
- October 14, 1947: Obituary of Horatio Stoll, Oakland Tribune; a list of Board of Directors of California Grape Protective Association
- January 4, 1948: Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings's 90th birthday, list of guests
and diary entries
- January 9, 1948: Berkeley Gazette; column by Hall Johnson re Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, "Oldest American Portia."
(Contains some factual errors.)
- 1948: page from Order of the Eastern Star newsletter re celebration of Addie Melvina
Stephenson Billings's 90th birthday
- February , 1948: Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings's funeral, Register of Visitors
- February 1948: "In Memoriam, Mrs. Addie Melvina Billings," card by Order of the Eastern
Star (2 copies)
- February 10, 1948: Letter from Ruth Ilo Rowe to Dorothy and Margaret Billings re Addie
Melvina Stephenson Billings.
- 9. Miscellaneous:
- Anecdotes by Josie Stephenson
- Composition, "The Truth Speaker," by Erma Stephenson (sister)
- Magazine and newspaper articles re Lieut.-Col. Frank J. Stephenson (brother)
- Five newsclippings: poems and anecdotes
- "Adam and Eve and That Apple" (ms.)
- Calling card: Howard C. Corey.
- 10. Nameplate from door of law office, Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings.
California Grape Protective Association
Order of the Eastern Star