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MC 356

Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957. Papers, 1889-1957: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


The collection was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/ University Publications of America project.
Radcliffe College
January 1989

© 1989 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 356
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1875-1957
Title: Papers, 1889-1957, n.d.
Quantity: 1 file box; 3 folio+ folders
Abstract: Correspondence, clippings, scrapbook, etc., of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, owner of the Whitehouse Leather Company and suffragist.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: January 1989
By: Jane E. Ward

Acquisition Information:

Accession number: 77-M102
The papers of Vira (Boarman) Whitehouse were given to the Schlesinger Library by her daughter, Alice (Whitehouse) Harjes, in July 1977.

Access Restrictions:

Access. CLOSED. Use microfilm M-133 (Series 1, Part B, Reel 15).

Preferred citation for publication:

Vira Boarman Whitehouse Papers, 1889-1957; item description, dates. MC 356, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Vira (Boarman) Whitehouse was born in Virginia on September 16, 1875, the daughter of Robert and Cornelia (Terrell) Boarman. Educated at Newcomb College in New Orleans, VBW married Norman de R. Whitehouse, a New York stockbroker, on April 13, 1898. The couple had one child, Alice (Whitehouse) Harjes.
As chairman in 1913 of the publicity council of the Empire State Campaign Committee and in 1916 of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party (NYSWSP), VBW was a leader in securing suffrage for New York women in November 1917. In 1918, VBW became director of the Swiss office of the United States Committee on Public Information; her assignment was to "combat the German propaganda and make plain the aims of the American people" (Who Was Who, vol. 5, 1973, p. 776). She published a book, A Year as a Government Agent (1920), recounting this experience.
In 1921 VBW bought the Buchan-Murphy Manufacturing Company, a leather business, renamed it the Whitehouse Leather Products Company, Inc., and reorganized it with herself as president. She managed the company for eight years, instituting a 44-hour (as opposed to 48-hour) work week, among other changes. VBW sold the company before the stock market crash in 1929.
In 1925 she was elected a member of the Democratic County Committee from Manhattan's 15th Assembly District. Organizing and helping in state political campaigns occupied much of the rest of her life; she was national chairman of the Woman's Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace and active in the Women's City Club, which she helped found in 1916. VBW died on April 11, 1957.


This collection provides information about VBW's suffrage work, her work for the government, her leather business, and her social activities. The bulk of the material falls between 1914 and 1920.
The suffrage papers include letters of appreciation to VBW from New York State suffrage campaign workers, a series of original cartoons about VBW and the suffrage campaign, a scrapbook of suffrage articles by VBW, other clippings, and two volumes containing NYSWSP annual reports.
VBW's government work is represented by annotated cables, corres- pondence, reports, and clippings. Correspondents include Carrie Chapman Catt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dean Acheson, Frances Perkins, Norman de R. Whitehouse, and friends. There are also clippings about VBW's social and business activities.
Arrangement within each folder is chronological. Clippings were discarded after filming.
Additional papers of NdeRW are at the New-York Historical Society.


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.
Acheson, Dean Gooderham, 1893-1971
Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937
Brown, Gertrude (Foster), 1867-1956
Burrows, Roxana B.
Cannon, Jenny Curtis
Catt, Carrie (Lane) Chapman, 1859-1947
Creel, George, 1876-1953
Dreier, Mary Elisabeth, 1875-1963
Gawthorpe, Mary
Green, Theodore Francis, 1867-1966
Hay, Mary Garrett, 1857-1928
Huffcut, Lillian L.
Laidlaw, Harriet Wright (Burton), 1873-1949
Livermore, Henrietta
Miller, Alice (Duer), 1874-1942
Mills, Harriet May
Pepper, George Wharton, 1867-1961
Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965
Pinchot, Cornelia (Bryce), 1881-1960
Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor (Roosevelt), 1884-1962
Seabring, Lena S.
Tone, Gertrude (Franchot)
Whitehouse, James Norman de Rapelye, 1858-1949
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924
Americans--Foreign countries
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
New York State Woman Suffrage Party
Propaganda, American--Switzerland
Propaganda, German--Switzerland
United States Committee on Public Information
Women--Suffrage--Caricatures and cartoons
Women--Suffrage--New York (State)
Women in business--New York (N.Y.)