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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 308: M-80

Papers of Inez Milholland, 1906-1916


Correspondence, speeches, etc., of Inez Milholland, suffragist, reformer, and lawyer.


  • Creation: 1906-1916

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Originals are closed; use digital images or microfilm M-80.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Inez Milholland 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.


1.04 linear feet (2+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 oversize folder, 3 reels microfilm (M-80)

These papers include personal and business correspondence, speeches, articles, class notes, and newsclippings. The personal letters are of particular interest and make up the first half of the collection. They illuminate, often in intimate detail, Milholland's marriage to Eugen Jan Boissevain and her friendships with Max Eastman, Irving E. Robertson, Upton Sinclair, and others.

The remainder of the collection reflects Milholland's work as a lawyer and her involvement in various reform causes: the citizenship question, the abolition of capital punishment, the related issues of prison reform and legal aid, and woman's suffrage. The newsclippings at the end of the collection are arranged in an order parallel to the professional papers. A few are about Milholland in particular, but the majority were collected by her and deal with her interests and only indirectly with her work.


Inez Milholland was a lawyer specializing in criminal and divorce practice; she zealously advocated a variety of reform causes, including women's suffrage, abolition of the death penalty, and the rights of working people. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she graduated from Vassar College in 1909, and received an LL.B. degree from New York University in 1912. In July 1913, she married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a New York importer, of Dutch citizenship. The resulting change in her citizenship status threatened to exclude Milholland from law practice, and she quickly became involved in attempts to repeal the offending legislation.

Proclaiming herself a Socialist, Milholland joined the Women's Trade Union League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Fabian Society of England. In 1915, as a war correspondent in Italy, she wrote a series of pacifist articles and as a result was expelled by the Italian government late that summer.

In 1916, Milholland took part in a garment workers' strike and was instrumental in securing a last-minute reprieve for Charles Stielow, a West Shelby, New York farmer accused of murder and sentenced to be executed in the electric chair.

Concurrently, Milholland was becoming increasingly active in the women's suffrage movement. She joined the Congressional Union, and, though suffering from pernicious anemia, undertook a speaking tour of the West in support of suffrage. In September she collapsed during a speech in Los Angeles and died ten weeks later, on November 25, 1916. A memorial service was held by her suffrage associates in Statuary Hall, Washington D.C., on Christmas Day, 1916. She was buried at her parents' estate in Essex County, New York.

Some years after Milholland's death, Eugen Jan Boissevain married Edna St. Vincent Millay. This collection was subsequently passed on to Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister, Norma Millay, from whom it was purchased by the Schlesinger Library.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 79-M92

The papers of Inez Milholland were purchased by the Schlesinger Library from Norma Millay in April 1979.


  1. 1. In organizing the material the processor added page numbers and dates, where necessary, to the correspondence, articles, and newsclippings. Page numbers and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.
  2. 2. Fragments of Milholland essays, articles, and speeches in folders #30, 32, and 36, were numbered and filmed consecutively. The reader should be aware, however, that the text is not always consecutive.
  3. 3. The collection included envelopes for some of the correspondence between Milholland and Eugen Jan Boissevain, and some of these have been filmed. The reader should note the following: a) envelopes filmed were left where they were originally found and do not necessarily accompany the letters they precede or succeed; and b) those included were filmed to indicate where the recipient was residing, so that only the first envelope after each change of address was filmed.
  1. Folders 1-11: M-80, Reel 1
  2. Folders 12-28: M-80, Reel 2
  3. Folders 29-50: M-80, Reel 3

Container List

  1. Box 1: folders 2-21
  2. Box 2: folders 22-36
  3. Box 3: folders 37-49

Processing Information

Processed: November 1980

By: Sharon M. Vardamis

Milholland, Inez. Papers of Inez Milholland, 1906-1916: 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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