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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 213: M-23

Letters from Kate Richards O'Hare, 1919-1920


Correspondence and photograph of Kate Richards O'Hare, socialist organizer and prison reformer.


  • Creation: 1919-1920


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-23.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Kate Richards O'Hare as well as 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.


.21 linear feet (1/2 file box)

The Kate Richards O'Hare letters consists of a signed volume entitled "Dear Sweethearts," a collection of mimeographed letters from O'Hare to her family written during her incarceration from April 1919 to May 1920. In these letters O'Hare discusses conditions of life and work in the prison; her fellow inmates; her family and friends; politics; books; the psychology of women and developments in psychoanalysis; and her religious and political beliefs. The volume also contains a photograph of O'Hare with her children.


Socialist organizer, lecturer, and prison reformer, Kate Richards O'Hare was born in Ottawa County, Kansas, in 1876. She became a teacher and later a secretary in her father's machine shop in Kansas City, Missouri. There she joined the International Association of Machinists, and in 1901 she attended the International School of Social Economy in Girard, Kansas. She married socialist Frank O'Hare in 1902. She began organizing women into the Socialist Party and became a popular speaker, as well as a member of the National Executive Committee. She ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the United States Congress in Kansas on the socialist ticket in 1910.

O'Hare opposed United States participation in World War I; she lectured throughout the United States on "Socialism and the World War" during 1917, and was arrested on July 17, in Bowman, North Dakota, for allegedly saying "that the women of the United States were nothing more or less than brood sows, to raise children to get into the Army and be made into fertilizer." Although O'Hare denied the charge, she was indicted and found guilty under the Espionage Act and sentenced to five years in the Missouri State Penitentiary, entering prison on April 15, 1919; her sentence was commuted on May 29, 1920. O'Hare divorced Frank O'Hare in 1928 and later married Charles C. Cunningham. She died in 1948.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 75-15

The letters of Kate Richards O'Hare were deposited in the Schlesinger Library by George Blackwell in January 1975.

Processing Information

Processed: January 1975

By: Katherine Kraft

O'Hare, Kate Richards, 1877-1948. Letters from Kate Richards O'Hare, 1919-1920: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women
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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