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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 356; M-133

Papers of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1889-1957


Correspondence, clippings, scrapbook, etc., of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, owner of the Whitehouse Leather Company and suffragist.


  • 1889-1957

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. CLOSED. Use microfilm M-133 (Series 1, Part B, Reel 15).

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Vira Boarman Whitehouse 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.


.42 linear feet ((1 file box) plus 3 folio+ folders)
This collection provides information about Vira Boarman Whitehouse's suffrage work, her work for the government, her leather business, and her social activities. The bulk of the material falls between 1914 and 1920.

The suffrage papers include letters of appreciation to Whitehouse from New York State suffrage campaign workers, a series of original cartoons about Whitehouse and the suffrage campaign, a scrapbook of suffrage articles by Whitehouse, other clippings, and two volumes containing New York State Woman Suffrage Party annual reports.

Whitehouse's government work is represented by annotated cables, correspondence, reports, and clippings. Correspondents include Carrie Chapman Catt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dean Acheson, Frances Perkins, Norman de R. Whitehouse, and friends. There are also clippings about Whitehouse's social and business activities.

Arrangement within each folder is chronological. Clippings were discarded after filming.

Additional papers of Norman de R. Whitehouse are at the New-York Historical Society.


Vira (Boarman) Whitehouse was born in Virginia on September 16, 1875, the daughter of Robert and Cornelia (Terrell) Boarman. Educated at Newcomb College in New Orleans, Whitehouse married Norman de R. Whitehouse, a New York stockbroker, on April 13, 1898. The couple had one child, Alice (Whitehouse) Harjes.

As chairman in 1913 of the publicity council of the Empire State Campaign Committee and in 1916 of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party (NYSWSP), Vira Boarman Whitehouse was a leader in securing suffrage for New York women in November 1917. In 1918, Whitehouse became director of the Swiss office of the United States Committee on Public Information; her assignment was to "combat the German propaganda and make plain the aims of the American people" (Who Was Who, volume 5, 1973, page 776). She published a book, A Year as a Government Agent (1920), recounting this experience.

In 1921 Whitehouse bought the Buchan-Murphy Manufacturing Company, a leather business, renamed it the Whitehouse Leather Products Company, Inc., and reorganized it with herself as president. She managed the company for eight years, instituting a 44-hour (as opposed to 48-hour) work week, among other changes. Whitehouse sold the company before the stock market crash in 1929.

In 1925 she was elected a member of the Democratic County Committee from Manhattan's 15th Assembly District. Organizing and helping in state political campaigns occupied much of the rest of her life; she was national chairman of the Woman's Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace and active in the Women's City Club, which she helped found in 1916. Whitehouse died on April 11, 1957.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 77-M102

The papers of Vira (Boarman) Whitehouse were given to the Schlesinger Library by her daughter, Alice (Whitehouse) Harjes, in July 1977.

Processing Information

Reprocessed: January 1989

By: Jane E. Ward
Link to catalog
Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957. Papers of Vira Boarman Whitehouse, 1889-1957: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
The collection was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/ University Publications of America project.

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.

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