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MC 588

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, 1860-1935. Papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1846-ca.1975 (inclusive), 1880-1940 (bulk): 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

Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 588
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1860-1935
Title: Papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1846-ca.1975 (inclusive), 1880-1940 (bulk)
Date(s): 1846-1975
Date(s): 1880-1940
Quantity: 1.25 linear feet (3 file boxes, 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 10 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Addenda to the papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman consist mainly of family correspondence, photographs, and printed material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 80-M112, 83-M201, 2000-M100, 2000-M125
These addenda to the papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman were acquired from her granddaughter, Dorothy Chamberlin, in May 1980 and from Dorothy and Walter Chamberlin (received with the Grace Ellery Channing papers in September 1983), and were given by Jeanne and Thomas Perkins in June 2000, and by Ann Lane in September 2000.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 2009
By: Jenny Gotwals

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. The papers created by Charlotte Perkins Gilman are in the public domain. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the director of the Schlesinger Library before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers, 1846-ca.1975; item description, dates. MC 588, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers, 1846-1961 (177).


A socialist and deist, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an independent thinker, author, and lecturer who was an intellectual leader of the woman's movement from the later 1890s through the mid-1920s.
Charlotte Anna Perkins was born July 3, 1860, in Hartford, Connecticut, to Mary Fitch Westcott and Frederic Beecher Perkins. She had a slightly older brother, Thomas Adie Perkins. In 1882 Charlotte Perkins met a young artist, Charles Walter Stetson; they were married May 4, 1884. Their daughter, Katharine Beecher Stetson, was born March 23, 1885. The Stetsons divorced in April 1894. Charles Walter Stetson then married Grace Ellery Channing, a close friend of Charlotte, and the couple raised Katharine in California.
Charlotte Perkins Stetson married her cousin, George Houghton Gilman, on June 11, 1900. Katharine Stetson married artist F. Tolles Chamberlin in 1918; the couple had two children, Dorothy (b.1918) and Walter (b.1920), and moved to Pasadena, California, in 1919. After many years of living in New York City, the Gilmans moved to Norwich, Connecticut, in 1922. Following Houghton Gilman's unexpected death in 1934, Charlotte Perkins Gilman moved to Pasadena to live nearer to her daughter. She took her own life on August 17, 1935.
For more information, see Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers, 1846-1961 (177), and Notable American Women (1971).


The collection is arranged in six series:


These addenda to the Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers contain genealogies, personal documents, family and general correspondence, handwritten poems, printed poems and articles by Gilman, clippings, and photographs. The bulk is family correspondence, much of it from Gilman's grandchildren, and photographs. The addenda has been arranged in six series which generally follow that of the original collection of papers, (177).
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS, ca.1891-ca.1928 (#1.1-1.8), includes genealogies of the Perkins, Stetson, and Beecher families researched and recorded by Gilman's daughter Katharine; Gilman's 1894 divorce decree from California; lecture ephemera; and notes.
Series II, FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE, 1846-1972 (#1.9-2.10), includes mid-19th century letters to Gilman's mother from her husband and her father. Many letters to Gilman are from her daughter Katharine: as a child (1894-1896), postcards from an European tour in 1902-1903 (others are addressed to George Houghton Gilman), then letters about her children and life in Pasadena, California. Letters to Gilman from her grandchildren describe gifts she sent them. Letters from Gilman include several to Walter Stetson about her health and speaking engagements.
Series III, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1881-1954 (#2.11-2.20), contains correspondence with publishers and other non-family correspondence. Several letters are to Gilman's goood friend Grace Ellery Channing Stetson and her brother Harold Channing. The series is arranged in three subseries: Publishers, Chronological, and Foreign and miscellaneous.
Series IV, WRITINGS BY GILMAN AND OTHERS, ca.1874-1935 (#2.21-3.12), includes handwritten poems by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, followed by those by her brother and others, and typescripts by others, including an account by Katharine Stetson Chamberlin of her childhood, parents, and life in Pasadena. Also included are two printed articles by Gilman, several printed poems, clippings from her magazine The Forerunner, a 1916 calendar she printed, and printed material she collected. The series is arranged in three small subseries: Poems by Gilman, Manuscripts and typescripts by others, and Printed material. Printed material is arranged with that by Gilman first, followed by material she collected.
Series V, CLIPPINGS, ca.1880s-1942 (#3.13-3.21), contains clippings related to Gilman: her life, death, and reviews of her books. A scrapbook compiled by her daughter includes coverage of Gilman's death in California newspapers, as well as publicity for Gilman's lectures, and a few printed poems.
Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AND MEMORABILIA, 1862-ca.1975 (#PD.1-PD.11, FD.1, F+D.1m, 3.22m), contains family photographs and photographs of Gilman's friends, a printing plate for Gilman's calling card, a handkerchief sewn for Gilman by her granddaughter, and oversized printed material. It is arranged in three subseries by format. With the exception of the miscellaneous clippings, they are arranged chronologically.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library: see Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers, 1846-1961 (177).

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Courtship--United States
Divorce--United States
Feminists--United States
Mothers and daughters
Pasadena (Calif.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Women's rights
Gilman family
Perkins family
Perkins, Frederic B. (Frederic Beecher), 1828-1899
Stetson, Charles Walter, 1858-1911
Stetson family
Stetson, Katharine Beecher, 1885-1979