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COLLECTION Identifier: A-68: M-133, reels E11-28

Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1863-1955


Collection of papers and memorabilia acquired by Mary Earhart Dillon from women leaders who were active in temperance, women's suffrage, and related movements.


  • Creation: 1863-1955


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:



11.83 linear feet ((11 cartons, 2 file boxes) plus 7 folio folders, 8 folio+ folders, 11 oversize folders, 2 supersize folders)

The Dillon Collection consists of thirteen series, most the papers of individual women. The two major series are VI, papers of Catharine Waugh McCulloch, and X, papers of Anna Howard Shaw, which Mary Earhart Dillon received from Anna Howard Shaw's friend and assistant, Lucy E. Anthony, niece of Susan B. Anthony. More than half the women represented by their own series were from Illinois; Catharine Waugh McCulloch and three other women represented were lawyers. For biographical information and a description of the contents, see the inventory for each series.

Series XI consists of copies of documents from the Woman's Rights Collection, made for Mary Earhart Dillon by Edna Stantial; these have been included in the microfilm edition as a convenience to researchers. Series XIII consists of clippings, cartoons, and other memorabilia.

There were clippings in most series, and most were discarded after microfilming.

Each series of Mary Earhart Dillon is available as a separate electronic finding aid. See the Series List for each link.


Mary Earhart Dillon assembled this collection in the early 1940s in the course of writing Frances Willard: From Prayers to Politics (published under the name Mary Earhart by University of Chicago Press in 1944). Due to the difficulty of finding primary source material, Dillon contacted various women in the Midwest (especially the Chicago lawyer and suffragist, Catharine Waugh McCulloch) who had been active in temperance, woman's suffrage, and related movements and activities. These women gave Dillon books and papers they had created or accumulated during their work for these causes, and Dillon, as a member of the faculty of Northwestern University, arranged with the university library that she would deposit the materials there when she had completed her research.

When the time came, she was told that the library had no space for the collection, nor funds to process it and make it available to other researchers, and she was asked to remove it as soon as possible from the basement of the building in which her office had been. Dillon later recalled that she then offered the collection to the Newberry Library (Chicago), The New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress, and possibly also to Syracuse University, but was unable to find a taker until, in June 1948, she wrote to the Women's Archives (later the Schlesinger Library) at Radcliffe College, and received a positive and enthusiastic response. When the papers arrived at Radcliffe in August 1952, the staff immediately recognized them as at least the equal in quality and importance of the Woman's Rights Collection, which had formed the nucleus of the Women's Archives.

Dillon, assistant professor of political science at Northwestern in June 1948, that September joined the Department of Government at Queen's College in New York. She later published a biography of Wendell Willkie, and was for many years a National Consultant for the Schlesinger Library. At the time this collection was microfilmed, she was living in retirement in Memphis, Tennessee.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 56-121

Processing Information

Reprocessed: June 1990

By: Kim Brookes, Bert Hartry, Katherine Kraft, Jane Ward

Dillon, Mary Earhart, collector. Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1863-1955: 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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Cambridge MA 02138 USA