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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 625: T-177

Additional papers of Florence Luscomb, 1888-1988


Additional papers including photographs, correspondence, statements, flyers, datebooks, etc., of social and political activist Florence Luscomb.


  • Creation: 1888-1988

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Florence Luscomb 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.


3.13 linear feet ((7+1/2 file boxes) plus 6 folders of photographs, 1 folio+ folder, 1 supersize folder, 9 audiotapes)

The bulk of these additional papers of Florence Luscomb came from Sharon Hartman Strom who used them in preparation for her book, Political Woman: Florence Luscomb and the Legacy of Radical Reform (2001), and from Barbara Brown who transferred datebooks and 1970s correspondence from Luscomb's cabin in New Hampshire. Strom organized much of the material and her notes are present throughout the collection. In general, Strom's arrangement was maintained. Folder headings in quotations are those of Luscomb; other headings are by Strom or the processor. This collection is minimally processed; dates are approximate.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1888-1985 (#PD.1-PD.6, SD.1, F+D.1, 1.1-2.2, T-177.3-T-177.10), includes photographs of Luscomb, family, and friends; audiotapes and transcripts of interviews with Luscomb and others about her life; datebooks; grade transcripts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); obituary, clippings, and other biographical information; and notes for the 1892 People's Party platform drafted by her mother, Hannah Luscomb.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1925-1986 (#2.3-2.15, 3.1-3.9), is arranged chronologically and includes correspondence with her mother, friends, and others involved in political activities. Such correspondence is rarely without social commentary.

Series III, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM, 1920s-1988 (#3.10-7.6), is arranged by topic (Women, Electoral politics, Race relations, Labor, Peace and international affairs, Civil liberties and democracy) and includes correspondence, statements and flyers, clippings, etc.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library. See


Florence Hope Luscomb, social and political activist, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on February 6, 1887, the daughter of Otis and Hannah Skinner (Knox) Luscomb. With an S.B. in architecture (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1909), she worked as an architect until 1917, when she became executive secretary for the Boston Equal Suffrage Association. She held positions in the Massachusetts Civic League and other organizations and agencies until 1933, when she became a full-time social and political activist. In the early 1920s Luscomb began to serve on the boards of civil rights, civil liberties, and other organizations; over the next 50 years these included the NAACP (Boston), the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the American League for Peace and Democracy, and many others. She helped organize and was president of a Boston local of the United Office and Professional Workers of America. Luscomb ran unsuccessfully for the Boston City Council, U.S. House of Representatives, and governor of Massachusetts. Never a communist, she opposed anti-communist investigations as attempts to curtail dissent and in the 1950s worked to stop them. In 1955 she was investigated as a subversive by government committees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Luscomb travelled to the Soviet Union in 1935 and illegally to China in 1962 and attended several international peace and women's conferences. In the 1960s she worked against the Vietnam War and in the 1970s frequently spoke to women's groups and conferences. From the 1950s to the mid 1970s, Luscomb lived in cooperative houses, usually with much younger people. She died in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1985 at 98.


The collection generally follows the arrangement of the Papers of Florence Luscomb (MC 394) and is arranged in 3 series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1888-1985 (#PD.1-PD.6, SD.1, F+D.1, 1.1-2.2, T-177.3-10)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1925-1986 (#2.3-2.15, 3.1-3.9)
  3. Series III. Social and political activism, 1920s-1988 (#3.10-7.6)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 91-M106, 2000-M114, 2001-M10, 2003-M81, 2004-M9

These additional papers of Florence Luscomb were given to the Schlesinger Library by Barbara Brown, Sharon Hartman Strom, and George Markham between 1991 and 2004.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Florence Luscomb Papers, 1856-1987 (MC 394) and Florence Luscomb Papers in the Woman's Rights Collection (M-133, reel D26; WRC 633-43).


Donors: Barbara Brown, Sharon Hartman Strom, and George Markham

Accession numbers: 91-M106, 2000-M114, 2001-M10, 2003-M81, 2004-M9

Processed by: Anne Engelhart

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. Biographical material re: Wenona Osborne Pinkham was transferred to the Wenona Osborne Pinkham papers.

Processing Information

Processed: February 2010

By: Anne Engelhart

Luscomb, Florence, 1887-1985. Additional papers of Florence Luscomb, 1888-1988: 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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