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COLLECTION Identifier: A-24: M-133

Papers of Julia Ward Howe, 1857-1961


Correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, writings, etc., of Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, social activist, and poet.


  • 1857-1961


Language of Materials

Materials in English


Access. Originals closed; use microfilm (M-133).

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Julia Ward Howe 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.


1.46 linear feet ((3+1/2 file box) plus 2 folio folders)

This collection contains correspondence, photographs, memorials, nine scrapbooks, and writings, including reminiscences, speeches, and travel letters. The scrapbooks contain mainly clippings, articles about Howe, her husband, and family; articles, poems, and lectures by Howe; poems and stories by three daughters; many articles about the "Battle Hymn of the Republic;" and some correspondence.

The papers provide information mainly about Howe and her family, the woman suffrage struggle, the women's club movement, the Association for the Advancement of Women, and the New Orleans World Exposition (1884-1885).

The collection is arranged in the following groups: letters by Howe, letters to Howe, material concerning the New Orleans Exposition, Howe speeches and writings, memorials, miscellaneous, and scrapbooks. Within each group the arrangement is chronological. The scrapbooks were not kept in chronological order and their dates therefore overlap; many of the clippings are not identified as to source or date.


Julia (Ward) Howe, perhaps best known as the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was also active in and widely respected for her leadership in a variety of fields; in her later life she was hailed as the "Grand Old Woman of America." Born in New York City, Howe was tutored at home, attended day school, and was an avid student. In 1843 the married Samuel Gridley Howe, director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind, Boston. Samuel Gridley Howe did not approve of married women's involvement in public life; Howe therefore spent the next two decades bringing up six children and studying, reading, and writing. Some of her poetry was published anonymously and a play, Leonora, or the World's Own, was produced in New York (1856).

In the autumn of 1861 Howe and Samuel Gridley Howe were in Washington, D.C., which was filled with recruits preparing for war. At the suggestion of her good friend and minister, James Freeman Clarke, Howe wrote new words to the soldiers' favorite march, "John Brown's Body." The poem was published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862 and soon the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the most popular song in the North.

After the Civil War, Howe became active in women's causes. She helped found the New England Woman Suffrage Association (1868) and in 1869 became a leader, along with Lucy Stone, of the American Woman Suffrage Association; she served as president of the Massachusetts (1870-1878, 1891-1893) and the New England (1868-1877, 1893-1910) associations, and was one of the founders of the Woman's Journal. Howe was also extremely active in the women's club movement; she was a founder (1868) and president of the New England Women's Club and of the Association for the Advancement of Women (founded 1873), a convener of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1890), and first president of its Massachusetts chapter.

An effective speaker, Howe was invited to lecture and preach all over the United States. Many of her lectures were published. She also published numerous poems and articles, was a frequent contributor to the Woman's Journal, edited Sex and Education (1874), and published two books: Memoir of Samuel Gridley Howe (1876) and Life of Margaret Fuller (1883). She was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1908). She died of pneumonia in 1910.

For additional biographical information see the articles in Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971), and Dictionary of American Biography (New York, 1932), which include lists of additional sources.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 49-14, 51-44

These papers of Julia Ward Howe were given to the Schlesinger Library in 1949 and 1951 by Rosalind Richards, Howe's granddaughter. The nine scrapbooks were microfilmed in 1980 under a grant from The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, Worcester, Massachusetts. The remainder of the collection was prepared for microfilming in October 1989 by Bert Hartry and was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.


  1. Several years before theJulia Ward Howe papers were filmed as part of a UPA/SL project, the scrapbooks weremicrofilmed under a grant from The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation because they werefrequently requested by researchers and because both the volumes and the material they containwere in fragile condition. Some or all of the following conditions apply to each scrapbook.
  2. 1. For a description of each volume see inventory.
  3. 2. The scrapbooks were not kept in any particular order (chronological or other), eitheramong or within themselves.
  4. 3. In some scrapbooks, pages had been numbered in an upper corner, but many numberswere missing because the brittle paper had crumbled. The processor filled in missing numbersand numbered the pages of the remaining volumes. The numbers are in square brackets and wereadded to aid the microfilmer, the proofreader and the researcher. Blank pages were notnumbered.
  5. 4. Many items, particularly ones at the edge of a page, are incomplete due to the brittlestate of both the paper and the clippings.
  6. 5. Some items were not microfilmed in their entirety, but only the page(s) by or aboutJulia Ward Howe, and the title page where necessary to establish name and date of publication.
  7. 6. In some cases clippings overlap only slightly and were glued down and/or extremelyfragile; it was thus impossible to fold back the top item and film the one underneath.
  8. 7. The two photographs in the scrapbooks have been microfilmed with the Library'sphotograph collection; the film is available at the Schlesinger Library. They were refilmed aspart of this project, but, because they are on the photograph film, the film and focusingtechniques used are those suitable for text rather than photographs.
  9. 8. Loose items found inserted between pages are marked accordingly.
  10. 9. In some instances extra items were glued on or between scrapbook pages. Some arecontinuations of the material on the numbered page; others are unrelated items. These pageswere filmed, whenever possible, in the order in which they are to be read. Where necessary toavoid confusion, items underneath were masked before filming.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Julia Ward Howe Family Papers, 1787-1984 (MC 272) and Howe family Additional papers, 1758-1984 (MC 730).


  1. Box 1: 1-19, 21v
  2. Box 2: 22v-24
  3. Box 3: 25v-27v
  4. Box 4: 30v

Processing Information

Processed: August 1980

By: Bert Hartry

Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910. Papers of Julia Ward Howe, 1857-1961: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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