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MC 356; M-133

Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957. Papers of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1889-1957: 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

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

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 356; M-133
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1875-1957
Title: Papers of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1889-1957
Date(s): 1889-1957
Quantity: .42 linear feet (1 file box) plus 3 folio+ folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, clippings, scrapbook, etc., of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, owner of the Whitehouse Leather Company and suffragist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

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.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: January 1989
By: Jane E. Ward

Access Restrictions:

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

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Vira Boarman Whitehouse 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:

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, Whitehouse 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), Vira Boarman Whitehouse was a leader in securing suffrage for New York women in November 1917. In 1918, Whitehouse 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, volume 5, 1973, page 776). She published a book, A Year as a Government Agent (1920), recounting this experience.
In 1921 Whitehouse 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. Whitehouse 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. Whitehouse died on April 11, 1957.


This collection provides information about Vira Boarman Whitehouse'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 Whitehouse from New York State suffrage campaign workers, a series of original cartoons about Whitehouse and the suffrage campaign, a scrapbook of suffrage articles by Whitehouse, other clippings, and two volumes containing New York State Woman Suffrage Party annual reports.
Whitehouse's government work is represented by annotated cables, correspondence, 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 Whitehouse's social and business activities.
Arrangement within each folder is chronological. Clippings were discarded after filming.
Additional papers of Norman de R. Whitehouse are at the New-York Historical Society.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Americans--Foreign countries
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
Propaganda, American--Switzerland
Propaganda, German--Switzerland
Women--Suffrage--Caricatures and cartoons
Women--Suffrage--New York (State)
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937
Brown, Gertrude Foster, 1867-1956
Burrows, Roxana B.
Cannon, Jenny Curtis
Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
Creel, George, 1876-1953
Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963
Gawthorpe, Mary
Green, Theodore Francis, 1867-1966
Hay, Mary Garrett, 1857-1928
Huffcut, Lillian
Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), 1873-1949
Livermore, Henrietta
Miller, Alice Duer, 1874-1942
Mills, Harriet May, 1857-1935
New York State Woman Suffrage Party
Pepper, George Wharton, 1867-1961
Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965
Pinchot, Cornelia Bryce, 1881-1960
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Seabring, Lena S.
Tone, Gertrude Franchot
United States. Committee on Public Information
Whitehouse, James Norman de Rapelye, 1858-1949
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924