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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 207

Papers of Rosa Marie Levis, 1884-1994 (inclusive), 1910-1959 (bulk)

Overview

Correspondence, writings, photographs, of Rosa Marie Levis, Italian-American suffragist active in Massachusetts Republican Party politics.

Dates

  • 1884-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1959

Language of Materials

Materials in English and Italian.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Rosa Marie Levis 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.

Extent

5.34 linear feet ((9 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio box, 1 card file box) plus 2 folio folders, 8 folio+ folders, 5 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 11 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 3 objects)
The papers of Rosa Marie Levis document her involvement in social, political, and religious women's organizations, in Boston's Italian community, and in the Massachusetts Republican Party. The collection includes correspondence, event programs, newsclippings, photographs, and printed material. In addition to Levis's social service work, her papers document her personal life, her husband's business and fencing career, and her suffrage and war-related activities.

The Rosa Marie Levis papers arrived at the Schlesinger Library in scrapbooks. When the collection was processed in 1974, material was removed from the scrapbooks, rearranged topically, and housed in folders. This material is described in Series I, and is represented in the inventory as folders #1-149, and volumes 1 and 2. Additional materials received by the Schlesinger Library in 2005 were added to the collection in March 2020. This material is described in Series II, and is represented in the inventory as folders #150-181, and loosely follows the original topical organization of Levis's papers.

Series I, Rosa Marie Levis scrapbooks, 1889-1959 (#1-149, Volume 1, Volume 2), comprises the original donation of Levis material to the Schlesinger Library. The collection is arranged by subjects, some of which overlap. For example, material relating to World War I may be found under "Suffrage and related activity," and "Italian community," as well as "War-related work." The arrangement is chronological within each subject, with the exception of "Clubs," where the arrangement is alphabetical. Of note in this series are letters to Levis from prominent Massachusetts Republican politicians, material related to several Italian women's clubs, and suffrage correspondence, banners, and signs.

Series II, Addenda, 1884, 1917-1994 (#150-181), includes correspondence, a diary, photographs, and printed material related to Levis's clubs and other activities. This material was organized and foldered by Levis family members before donation to the Schlesinger Library in 2005. These groupings and titles have been kept; additions by the archivist are in brackets. Material is listed in the order of the material in Series I; for example, Levis's personal and family material is followed by political activity. Some items throughout contain handwritten notes by Albert Levis, Jr.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

BIOGRAPHY

Rosa Marie Finnocchietti was born March 17, 1878, on Hull Street in the North End of Boston. Her parents, Giovanni and Theresa Finocchietti, were recent emigrés from Genoa, Italy. In her teens, while still a student at the Hancock School, Levis began her long career of volunteer civic service, interpreting for doctors in the Hull Street Medical Center. In 1897 she married Albert Warren Levis, a Florentine sculptor and fencer who had come to the United States to help design a bronze door for the Chicago Exposition. They had six children, three boys and three girls; the family lived in the North End until 1914, when they moved to Dorchester. Levis was proud of her early advocacy (1910) of woman suffrage, claiming to be the first Italian-American suffragist in Massachusetts. During World War I she participated, with other suffragists, in the sale of Liberty Bonds, and in programs for food conservation and for Americanization of Italian immigrants. In addition, she worked with Boston Italians rolling bandages and assembling supply kits for Italian-American soldiers. She again sold war bonds in World War II, and aided in the organization of relief programs for a war-devastated Italy.

Rosa Levis founded the Chatterbox Club (with her daughter Lydia, 1919) and the League of the Sacred Heart Church of North Square (1936); she was organizing secretary of the Women's Italian Club (1916); was first president of the Women's Columbus Republican Club (1943); and helped to establish the Massachusetts State Federation of Women's Italian Clubs (1947). She worked to have Italian taught in Boston high schools, and to help Italian immigrants adjust to life in America while retaining pride in their heritage. Levis claimed to be the "first woman of Italian extraction to register as a Republican," and was politically active for most of her adult life. Levis served as a committeewoman from the 7th Suffolk Senatorial District, a member of the Republican State Committee, Vice President of the Republican City Committee, Chairman of Ward 15, and a delegate to Republican state and national conventions. She was an energetic campaigner, and received many letters of gratitude from victorious Republican office-seekers. She remained active in politics and club work until her death on January 15, 1959, at the age of eighty-two.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in two series:
  1. Series I. Rosa Marie Levis scrapbooks, 1889-1959 (#1-149, Volume 1, Volume 2)
  2. Series II. Addenda, 1884, 1917-1994 (#150-181)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 1188, 2005-M182

The papers of Rosa Marie Levis were donated to the Schlesinger Library by Albert Warren Levis, Jr., in July 1967, and by Lindsay Sturdivant in December 2005.

SEPARATION RECORD

The following items were removed from the collection and added to Schlesinger Library periodical collection in 1974:
  1. Woman's Journal, Vol. XLIV, 1913, Nos. 37-39, 41, 49, 51
  2. Woman's Journal, Vol. XLV, 1914, No. 38
  3. Woman's Journal, Vol. XLVI, 1915, No. 3
  4. The Woman Citizen, Vol. I, No. 1, 5, no number (April 20, 1918): 1917-1918
  5. The Woman Citizen, Vol. III, Nos. 11, 17, 33, 43, 47, 50: 1918-1919
  6. The Woman Citizen, Vol. IV, Nos. 8, 9, 20, 30: 1919-1920
  7. The Woman Citizen, Vol. V, Nos. 4, 13, 25, 27, 28: 1920
  8. Boston Daily Globe article, "President Wilson Battles Sen. Lodge for League of Nations or Nothing, Gets Nothing," from American Past series, May 19, 1948, page 21.
  9. Ladies Home Journal article, "Woman's Place in Politics," concerning Viscountess Astor, M.P., February 1935, page 5 ff.
  10. Religious pictures from calendars, n.d.
  11. Policewoman's International Bulletin, Vol. III, No. 33, October 1927 and No. 34, November-December 1927.

CONTAINER LIST

  1. Box 1: 1-17, Volume 2
  2. Box 2: 18-42
  3. Box 3: 43-63
  4. Box 4: 64-77
  5. Box 5: 78-101
  6. Box 6: 101bm-122
  7. Box 7: 123-141
  8. Box 8: 142-153
  9. Box 9: 154-174
  10. Box 10: 175-179
  11. Folio Box 11: Volume 1
  12. Card Box 12: 71am, 79am, 141am-141bm

Processing Information

Processed: November 1974

By: Katherine Gray Kraft

Additional material added: February 2020

By: Jenny Gotwals
Link to catalog
Title
Levis, Rosa Marie, 1878-1959. Papers of Rosa Marie Levis, 1884-1994 (inclusive), 1910-1959 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
EAD ID
sch00703

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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