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MC 625; T-177

Luscomb, Florence, 1887-1985. Additional papers of Florence Luscomb, 1888-1988: 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

Call No.: MC 625; T-177
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Florence Luscomb, 1887-1985
Title: Additional papers of Florence Luscomb, 1888-1988
Date(s): 1888-1988
Quantity: 3.13 linear feet (7+1/2 file boxes) plus 6 folders of photographs, 1 folio+ folder, 1 supersize folder, 9 audiotapes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Additional papers including photographs, correspondence, statements, flyers, datebooks, etc., of social and political activist Florence Luscomb.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 91-M106, 2000-M114, 2001-M10, 2003-M81, 2004-M9
These additional papers of Florence Luscomb were given to the Schlesinger Library by Barbara Brown, Sharon Hartman Strom, and George Markham between 1991 and 2004.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 2010
By: Anne Engelhart

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Florence Luscomb 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:

Florence Luscomb Additional papers, 1888-1988; item description, dates. MC 625, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Florence Luscomb Papers, 1856-1987 (MC 394) and Florence Luscomb Papers in the Woman's Rights Collection (M-133, reel D26; WRC 633-43).


Donors: Barbara Brown, Sharon Hartman Strom, and George Markham
Accession numbers: 91-M106, 2000-M114, 2001-M10, 2003-M81, 2004-M9
Processed by: Anne Engelhart
The following items have been removed from the collection:


Florence Hope Luscomb, social and political activist, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on February 6, 1887, the daughter of Otis and Hannah Skinner (Knox) Luscomb. With an S.B. in architecture (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1909), she worked as an architect until 1917, when she became executive secretary for the Boston Equal Suffrage Association. She held positions in the Massachusetts Civic League and other organizations and agencies until 1933, when she became a full-time social and political activist. In the early 1920s Luscomb began to serve on the boards of civil rights, civil liberties, and other organizations; over the next 50 years these included the NAACP (Boston), the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the American League for Peace and Democracy, and many others. She helped organize and was president of a Boston local of the United Office and Professional Workers of America. Luscomb ran unsuccessfully for the Boston City Council, U.S. House of Representatives, and governor of Massachusetts. Never a communist, she opposed anti-communist investigations as attempts to curtail dissent and in the 1950s worked to stop them. In 1955 she was investigated as a subversive by government committees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Luscomb travelled to the Soviet Union in 1935 and illegally to China in 1962 and attended several international peace and women's conferences. In the 1960s she worked against the Vietnam War and in the 1970s frequently spoke to women's groups and conferences. From the 1950s to the mid 1970s, Luscomb lived in cooperative houses, usually with much younger people. She died in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1985 at 98.


The collection generally follows the arrangement of the Papers of Florence Luscomb (MC 394) and is arranged in 3 series:


The bulk of these additional papers of Florence Luscomb came from Sharon Hartman Strom who used them in preparation for her book, Political Woman: Florence Luscomb and the Legacy of Radical Reform (2001), and from Barbara Brown who transferred datebooks and 1970s correspondence from Luscomb's cabin in New Hampshire. Strom organized much of the material and her notes are present throughout the collection. In general, Strom's arrangement was maintained. Folder headings in quotations are those of Luscomb; other headings are by Strom or the processor. This collection is minimally processed; dates are approximate.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1888-1985 (#PD.1-PD.6, SD.1, F+D.1, 1.1-2.2, T-177.3-T-177.10), includes photographs of Luscomb, family, and friends; audiotapes and transcripts of interviews with Luscomb and others about her life; datebooks; grade transcripts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); obituary, clippings, and other biographical information; and notes for the 1892 People's Party platform drafted by her mother, Hannah Luscomb.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1925-1986 (#2.3-2.15, 3.1-3.9), is arranged chronologically and includes correspondence with her mother, friends, and others involved in political activities. Such correspondence is rarely without social commentary.
Series III, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM, 1920s-1988 (#3.10-7.6), is arranged by topic (Women, Electoral politics, Race relations, Labor, Peace and international affairs, Civil liberties and democracy) and includes correspondence, statements and flyers, clippings, etc.
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

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Anti-communist movements--Massachusetts
Anti-communist movements--New Hampshire
Anti-fascist movements--Massachusetts
Anti-fascist movements--United States
China--Description and travel
Civil rights movements--Massachusetts
Cuba--Description and travel
Europe--Description and travel
Korean War, 1950-1953--Protest movements--United States
Labor unions--Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950
Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
Mothers and daughters--United States
Oral histories
Peace--Societies, etc.
Peace movements--United States
Soviet Union--Description and travel
United States--Politics and government--20th century
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States
Women and peace
Women labor union members--Massachusetts
Women--Political activity--Massachusetts
Women's rights--Massachusetts
American Civil Liberties Union
American League for Peace and Democracy
Americans for Democratic Action
Blackwell, Alice Stone, 1857-1950
Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Du Pont, Zara, 1869-1946
Flexner, Eleanor, 1908-1995
Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957
Howe, Louisa Pinkham
Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee
Luscomb, Hannah Skinner
Massachusetts. Special Commission to Study and Investigate Communism and Subversive Activities and Related Matters in the Commonwealth
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Boston Branch
O'Brien, Walter A.
Page, Mary Hutcheson, 1860-1940
People's Labor Party
Progressive Party (U.S. : 1948)
Strong, Anna Louise, 1885-1970
United Office and Professional Workers of America
Uphaus, Willard E. (Willard Edwin), 1890-1983
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Boston Branch