Somerville and Howorth family papers, 1850-1974
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Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
6.17 linear feet ((2 cartons, 10 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 2 supersize folders, 1 folio volume, 6 oversize volumes, 7 reels of microfilm)
Series I, Genealogical and early family records, contains a genealogy of Nellie Nugent Somerville by Keith (Frazier) Somerville, daughter-in-law of Somerville; the diaries (1852-68) of S. Myra (Cox) Smith, Somerville's grandmother; correspondence between Somerville's parents, Eleanor (Smith) Nugent and William L. Nugent; and miscellaneous family papers and newsclippings.
Series II, Nellie Nugent Somerville, is divided into four sections: Biographical, Correspondence, Writings, and Organizations.
The Biographical section (folders 19-24, volumes 7-18) contains scrapbooks of clippings by and about Somerville, notebooks, and diaries.
Correspondence (25-35) includes letters to and from family members, as well as from Anna Howard Shaw, James O. Eastland, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the American Association of University Women, the Mississippi State Democratic Party, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the First Southern Methodist Church (Memphis). Also included here are letters of condolence to Somerville's children after her death.
Writings (36-49) includes typescript and manuscript speeches and articles on such subjects as suffrage, religion, prohibition, and democracy, as well as letters to the editor.
Organizations (50-69a+, vols. 19o-25) is arranged alphabetically, and contains material from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Democratic National Convention of 1924, the Greenville M.E. Church Methodist Industrial Association, the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, National American Woman Suffrage Association, and other organizations in which Somerville was involved.
Series III, Lucy Somerville Howorth, is divided into eight sections:
1. Biographical (71-96), including personal items, photographs, clippings, etc. of Howorth.
2. Correspondence (97-117): letters from family members (including one folder of letters from Somerville), and from others (arranged alphabetically by correspondent).
3. Legal Work and Women in the Law (118-129) includes work record books of Howorth, and material from the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the United Nations League of Lawyers, and other lawyers' organizations.
4. Organizations (130-147, alphabetical) includes minutes and some correspondence.
5. Business and Professional Women's Clubs (148-154) concerns the various state, national, and international branches of the Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.
6. Speeches and Articles (155-222) is arranged chronologically.
7. Memorabilia (223-227af+, vol. 26o) contains invitations, souvenirs, dinner programs, clippings, a scrapbook, certificates, licenses, family trees, etc.
8. An eighth section (228-260) contains additional Howorth speeches, articles, and correspondence, all arranged chronologically; these were received after Sections 1-7 were organized.
Series IV, Other Family Members, contains clippings about Howorth's two brothers, Robert Somerville and Abram Douglas Somerville, her sister-in-law, Keith (Frazier) Somerville, and the Shands family (Somerville's granddaughters).
Series V, Photographs, includes photos of Somerville; her parents and earlier ancestors; her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; and miscellaneous photos.
Much of the material in the collection is accompanied by Howorth's comments as to its value or the reason why it is included.
Nellie Nugent Somerville was born September 25, 1863, on a plantation in Mississippi; her father was serving in the Confederate Army at the time. Her mother died two years later, and her father was widowed again after a brief second marriage; Somerville was raised primarily by her grandmother, S. Myra (Cox) Smith, until her father's third marriage in 1870. Somerville spent two years at a Mississippi boarding school and graduated from Martha Washington College in Abingdon, Virginia, in 1880. She married Robert Somerville in 1885; they had four children: Robert, Abram, Eleanor, and Lucy.
Somerville became active in suffrage and temperance work in the early 1890s, becoming corresponding secretary of the Mississippi Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1894 and organizing the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association in 1897. By 1915 she was a vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1923 she became the first woman to be elected to the Mississippi legislature, serving until 1927. Somerville died in Mississippi in 1952. For additional biographical information, see Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: 1980), which also includes a list of sources.
Lucy Somerville Howorth was born July 1, 1895, in Greenville, Mississippi, the youngest of the four children of Robert Somerville and Nellie Nugent Somerville. Educated at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Howorth did postgraduate work at Columbia University and received her J.D. from the University of Mississippi in 1922; she was admitted to the Mississippi bar the same year. Howorth practiced law in Mississippi, 1922-1934, and was admitted to the bar before the United States Supreme Court in 1934. In 1928 she married Joseph Marion Howorth; they had no children.
Howorth served as the chairman of the Mississippi State Board of Law Examiners, 1924-1928; the United States commissioner of the Southern Judicial District of Mississippi, 1927-1931; a member of the Mississippi state legislature, 1932-1936; associate member of the Board of Veterans' Appeals, 1934-1943; legislative attorney in Virginia, 1943-1949; general counsel to the War Claims Commission, 1949-1954; attorney, Commission on Government Security, 1956-1957; and a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, 1962-1963. She has maintained a private law practice in Mississippi since 1958. In 1977, Howorth co-edited Dear Nellie: The Civil War Letters of William L. Nugent, correspondence between her maternal grandparents.
Howorth has been a member of the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Mississippi Historical Society, and numerous other organizations. For additional biographical information, see Who's Who of American Women, 1987-1988 (Wilmette, Ill., 1986).
- Series I. Genealogical and early family records
- Series II. Nellie Nugent Somerville
- Series III. Lucy Somerville Howorth
- Series IV. Other Family Members
- Series V. Photographs
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Somerville-Howorth papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Lucy (Somerville) Howorth beginning in 1952. Most of Series I and II was reprocessed in 1979 and microfilmed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center; this microfilm (M-52) is included in the Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project. An expanded biography and scope and content note were added in October 1989 by Jane Ward.
- Box 4: Folders 70a-93
- Box 5: Folders 94-117
- Box 6: Folders 118-129
- Box 7: Folders 130-147
- Box 8: Folders 148-154
- Box 9: Folders 155-207
- Box 10: Folders 208-222
- Box 11: Folders 223-227
- Box 12: Folders 228-252
- Box 13: Folders 253-263a+
By: Eva Moseley
- Democratic National Convention (1924 : New York, N.Y.)
- International Congress of Working Women
- Mississippi--Social life and customs
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate
- United States--Officials and employees
- Woman's Centennial Congress (1940 : New York, N.Y.)
- Women in church work--Mississippi
- Women in the civil service--United States
- Women lawyers--United States
- Women--Political activity
- Women--Societies and clubs
- Women--Southern States
- Women--Suffrage--United States
- Somerville, Nellie Nugent, 1863-1952. Somerville and Howorth family papers, 1850-1974: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women
- EAD ID
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