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COLLECTION Identifier: A-68, Series VI: M-133, reels E13-25

Catharine Waugh McCulloch papers in the Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1869-1945


Correspondence, speeches, articles, etc., of Catharine Waugh McCulloch, suffragist and lawyer.


  • Creation: 1869-1945

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use microfilm (M-133, reels E13-25) or digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Catharine Waugh McCulloch 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.


281 folders

The Catharine Waugh McCulloch series of the Mary Earhart Dillon collection has been divided into four subseries: Personal and biographical, Writings and speeches, General correspondence, Suffrage and woman's rights.

The papers primarily document McCulloch's research on women's legal status, and also her work with the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association (IESA), the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and the League of Women Voters (LWV). There is also documentation of women in the legal profession and of McCulloch's friendships with other women suffragists and lawyers, and some biographical material. The papers contain little information about her family or social life.

In reprocessing this series, the processor assumed that the existing filing system was either McCulloch's or Mary Earhart Dillon's and rearranged the papers as little as possible.

Notes of explanation and background papers by McCulloch were found in many folders. These have not been listed in the inventory. There are also scattered notes by person/s unknown.

There is correspondence in every subseries, and individuals and issues overlap: colleagues and associates were also personal friends. This means, for example, that there may be correspondence about suffrage not only in subseries D, but also in subseries C, in both general correspondence and correspondence arranged by individual.

Subseries A, Personal and biographical (#54-58), is arranged chronologically and includes college and law school catalogs and programs, photographs of McCulloch and her husband, clippings about and tributes to McCulloch, and a small amount of personal and family correspondence.

Subseries B, Writings and speeches (#59-83), is arranged chronologically and includes pamphlets by McCulloch and others; writings exclusively by others are at the end. The series includes works in manuscript, typescript, and print.

Subseries C, General correspondence (#84-178), is divided into two sections. The first consists of correspondence with numerous people, and is arranged chronologically, with undated letters at the end. It includes a letterbook of copies of outgoing letters, 1892-95. Only about one-quarter of these are fully legible; the rest are badly faded so that another quarter is illegible and half barely legible. As much as possible was microfilmed. There is a large amount of correspondence of National American Woman Suffrage Association, Illinois Equal Suffrage Association, and other state suffrage associations in this section. The second section, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, consists of larger groups of letters exchanged with fewer individuals.

Subseries D, Suffrage and woman's rights (#179-335), includes one folder on Prohibition and a section on the League of Women Voters. The bulk of the subseries is further sub-divided into National American Woman Suffrage Association, Illinois, Other states, and International. The series consists of correspondence, organizational records, photographs, lists, reports, questionnaires and responses, programs, publications, memorabilia, clippings, itineraries, drawings, press releases, legislation, scrapbooks, and surveys. Clippings were scattered throughout the subseries and are noted in the inventory only for folders containing solely clippings. Most clippings were discarded after microfilming.


The only daughter of Susan (Gouger) and Abraham Miller Waugh, Catharine Gouger (Waugh) McCulloch was born near Ransomville, New York, on June 4, 1862. Five years later, the family moved to a farm near New Milford, Illinois, where she attended the village school and nearby Rockford Female Seminary, graduating in 1882. In 1885 she enrolled in the Union College of Law in Chicago, and upon completion of the course was admitted to the Illinois bar. McCulloch took further study at Rockford Seminary and in 1888, having written a thesis entitled "Woman's Wages," was awarded both a B.A. and an M.A. In 1890 she married Frank Hathorn McCulloch, a fellow law student with whom she then practiced law. They had four children.

As legislative superintendent of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association (1890-1912), McCulloch was extremely active in the movement for women's rights, seeking state legislation permitting woman suffrage in presidential and local elections not constitutionally limited to male voters, a bill which passed in 1913. She was also instrumental in the passage of Illinois legislation granting women equal rights in the guardianship of their children (1901), and raising the legal age of consent for women from fourteen to sixteen (1905). She served as legal adviser (1904-ca.1911) and as first vice-president (1910-1911) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

McCulloch died of cancer on April 20, 1945. For further biographical information, see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971).

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 56-121


Dates and/or other information have been written on some items by a number of people. In organizing the material, the processor accepted dates added by others and left undated material that was grouped with dated items where it was. All dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.

Related letters found clipped or pinned together were left together.

The pages of some items were numbered to aid the microfilmer, the proofreaders, and researchers. These numbers are in square brackets.

The film was proofread by University Publications of America.

Many loose clippings were mounted by the processor.

The condition of some of the volumes and items made microfilming difficult: clippings overlapped or were folded, and much of the newsprint was brittle. Other items were difficult to film due to such problems as flimsy paper with text showing through, faded or smudged writing, faint pencil notations, creased and brittle paper, or faded or blurred carbon copies on flimsy, colored paper. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch sometimes used the reverse sides of outdated letterhead and form letters for carbon copies, drafts, or notes; print may show through. The letterhead/printed sides were filmed only if they are not represented elsewhere in the collection, or if they contain unique text.

In many cases, the enclosures referred to in letters are missing, or have been separated from the letters by persons unknown.

Letters of one or more pages with either the salutation or the signature missing, as well as portions of letters, have been marked as fragments.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Catharine Waugh McCulloch, 1877-1983 (MC 378).

Processing Information

Reprocessed: June 1990

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

McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945. Catharine Waugh McCulloch papers in the Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1869-1945: 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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