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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 240

Papers of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, 1875-1948


Correspondence, speeches, photographs, etc., of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, teacher.


  • 1875-1948

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings 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.


.21 linear feet ((1/2 file box) plus 1 folio+ folder)

This small collection, arranged chronologically, provides a very incomplete record and leaves many questions unanswered (for instance, there is a photograph of an adopted son but no other mention of him), but it does give some idea of the long, active and varied life of a lawyer who is typical of many of her contemporaries because of the informality of her training and the westward movement of her life.


Addie Melvina Stephenson was born January 4, 1858 in Pecatonica, Illinois. In 1876 she studied at Iowa State Normal School in Cedar Falls; she taught school in various towns in Iowa until 1880, when she married Elmore M. Billings, an attorney, and moved to Geneva, Nebraska. Here Billings acted as her husband's secretary and became familiar with the law; she was also a correspondent for Omaha newspapers.

In 1887, Billings was admitted to the bar in Nebraska and became her husband's law partner. Later she was also certified to practice law in Iowa. The Billingses moved to Benicia, California in 1891; as her husband's health was failing, Billings joined Wallace Rutherford in legal practice in Napa. In 1908 the Billings' invested in a wine vineyard near Calistoga. For several years Billings was Executive Secretary of the California Grape Protective Association, giving speeches throughout the state urging Californians to vote against the ratification of the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment to the federal Constitution. After the death of her husband in 1920, Billings moved to Berkeley so that her two adopted daughters, Dorothy and Margaret, could attend the University of California; Billings herself worked as an agent for the Northern Insurance Company. She was an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 50 years, and a staunch Republican. She was also the author of Civil Government of Nebraska Tabulated (1886).

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 1196

The papers of Addie Melvina Billings were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in July 1967 by Margaret Gettys Hall.

Processing Information

Processed: January, 1977

By: Donna M. Whalen

Billings, Addie Melvina Stephenson, 1858-1948. Papers of Addie Melvina Stephenson Billings, 1875-1948: 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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