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COLLECTION Identifier: A-74: M-136

Papers of Sue Shelton White, 1898-1963 (inclusive), 1909-1963 (bulk)


Papers of Sue Shelton White, suffragist, lawyer, government official, and active Democrat.


  • Creation: 1898-1963
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1909-1963

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Closed; use microfilm (M-136, reels A12-14; A-74).


1.21 linear feet ((1 carton, 1/2 file box) plus 1 oversize folder)

This collection has been divided into two series: Personal and biographical, and Professional and volunteer activities.

The papers provide information about White's professional and volunteer activities; southern women; the woman suffrage campaign in Tennessee and nationally; the friction between the National Woman's Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association; the office of Senator Kenneth D. McKellar (Democrat, Tennessee); organizing of women in the Democratic Party; consumer advocacy in the New Deal era: under the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the National Emergency Council (NEC), and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA); and about White's attempts to win promotion in Sen. McKellar's office and on the Social Security Board. There is little information about White's childhood, adolescence, education, or her work as a stenographer and court reporter.

Series I, Personal and biographical, includes, in the following order: recollections of White by others, correspondence (personal, business, and financial), photographs, and family papers.

Series II, Professional and volunteer activities, includes correspondence, White writings and speeches, petitions, reports, receipts, clippings, programs, invitations, lists, etc. It is arranged chronologically by subject or organization, and within each of these categories: suffrage, Tennessee (including Sen. Kenneth D. McKellar), Democratic Party, writing and editing, Business and Professional Women's Clubs, National Woman's Party, Southern Women's Jefferson Educational Association, and New Deal agencies. With the exception of book reviews, White's writings and speeches are in the sections to which they pertain. Some of the enclosures referred to in the correspondence are either missing or have become separated.

The material in the New Deal agencies section (NRA, NEC, AAA, #41-53o) is arranged chronologically. No attempt was made to divide it by agency as their consumer activities were coordinated. Social Security Board material is in a separate folder (#54).

Most clippings were discarded after microfilming.


Sue Shelton White, suffragist, lawyer, government official, and active Democrat, was born on May 25, 1887, in Henderson, Tennessee, the second of three children of James Shelton White and Mary Calista (Swain) White. Her father, a lawyer and Methodist minister, died when she was nine. When her mother died four years later, White went to live with an aunt. When she was sixteen she took a teacher training course at Georgie Robertson Christian College and the following year (1904-1905) attended West Tennessee Business College.

From the time of her first job, as a stenographer in Jackson, Tennessee, until her death in 1943, White held a variety of paid positions and was active in the woman suffrage movement and the Democratic Party. This busy life is reflected in the following chronology.

  1. 1905-1907: Stenographer, Jackson, Tennessee
  2. 1907-1918: Court reporter, private secretary to members of state supreme court
  3. 1913: Recording secretary, Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association
  4. 1917: Appointed chairman of industrial registration, Tennessee Division of Woman's Committee of U.S. Council of National Defense; member state commission for food conservation; meets Maud Younger
  5. 1918: Chairman, Tennessee branch, National Woman's Party (NWP)
  6. 1918-1919: Executive secretary, Tennessee Commission for the Blind
  7. 1919: Editor of National Woman's Party publication. Suffragist; jailed for five days for burning a caricature of President Woodrow Wilson
  8. pre-1920: Drafted legislation, which eventually was passed by Tennessee legislature: married woman's property act, mothers' pension law, and old-age pension act
  9. 1920-1926: Clerk, then acting secretary, to Sen. Kenneth D. McKellar, Washington, D.C.
  10. 1923: Helped draft Equal Rights Amendment; received law degree from Washington College of Law, admitted to bar in D.C. and Tennessee
  11. 1926-1930: Practiced law in Jackson, Tennessee; active in state Democratic Party
  12. 1928: At request of Eleanor Roosevelt, helped organize a Tennessee Business and Professional Women's League for Alfred E. Smith; worked with the midwestern division of the Democratic National Committee; met Mary W. ("Molly") Dewson
  13. 1929: Left National Woman's Party
  14. 1929-1932: Helped Nellie Tayloe Ross organize Democratic women across the country
  15. 1930-1933: Executive secretary of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee, Washington, D.C.
  16. 1934: Meets Florence A. Armstrong, a consultant to the Consumers' Advisory Board (they shared a house in Virginia until White's death)
  17. 1934-1935: Assistant chairman, Consumers' Advisory Board, National Recovery Administration; assistant director, Consumers' Division, National Emergency Council
  18. 1935-1943: Social Security Board and its successor, the Federal Security Agency: served first as attorney for the board; in 1938, after several promotions, became principal attorney and assistant to general counsel
  19. 1939: Applied for the position of Regional Director, Social Security Region VII; application not approved by the United States Civil Service Commission
  20. 1943: Died May 6 in Alexandria, Virginia

More biographical information is available in this collection. See also the article in Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Personal and biographical
  2. Series II. Professional and volunteer activities

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 59-32

The papers of Sue Shelton White were given to the Schlesinger Library in 1959 by her friend, Florence A. Armstrong. The collection was reprocessed and microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.


  1. All dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.
  2. The pages of some items were numbered to aid the microfilmer, the proofreaders, and researchers. These numbers are in square brackets.
  3. All reels were proofread by the filmer and/or the processor and corrections made where necessary.
  4. Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film, due to such problems as faded or blurred carbon copies on flimsy, colored paper. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.
  5. The reverse sides of outdated letterhead were sometimes used by SSW for carbon copies; print may show through. The letterhead sides were filmed only if they are not represented elsewhere in the collection, or if they contain unique text.
  6. All photographs were microfilmed with the collection. They are also available on the microfilm of the Schlesinger Library photograph collection (M-54).

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see The Florence A. Armstrong papers (A-120).

Container List

  1. Carton 1: 1-10, 13-48
  2. Box 2: 49-52, 54


This index includes the names of selected writers (including organizations) and recipients. Information about individuals and subjects is not indexed. Key: No symbol = Writer * = Writer and recipient = Recipient The numbers refer to folders.

  1. Adler, H.C. 16*
  2. Anderson, Hu C. 7*
  3. Anderson, Virginia A. 7*
  4. Armstrong, Florence A. 1, 2, 4, 10
  5. Blair, Emily Newell 5, 27
  6. Boeckel, Florence 6, 15, 36
  7. Bowman, Geline MacDonald 5, 39
  8. Catt, Carrie Chapman 15*, 16
  9. Cromwell, Emma Guy 37, 38, 39
  10. Dewson, Mary ("Molly") 1*, 5, 27
  11. Douglas, Paul H. 41, 42*, 44*
  12. Elliott, Harriet W. 5, 31
  13. Fain, Sarah Lee 37, 38, 39*
  14. Fleming, Arthur S. 53*
  15. Gram Swing, Betty 1, 5, 12
  16. Gram Swing, Raymond 6
  17. Hays, W. Burrough 24, 25*, 26
  18. Howorth, Lucy Somerville 1
  19. Hull, Cordell 28*
  20. Hungerford, Arthur E. 43*, 44, 46*, 47*, 48
  21. International Woman Suffrage Alliance 16*
  22. Jacobs, Pattie R. 37*, 38, 39, 44, 46
  23. Johnson, Hugh S. 41*, 42, 43, 44
  24. Keezer, Dexter 5, 41, 42, 44*, 45*, 46* 47, 48*
  25. Laughlin, Gail 36
  26. McKellar, Kenneth D. 17, 23*, 24*, 25*, 26*
  27. Marshino, Ora 1
  28. Moynahan, Rosalie 1
  29. National Woman's Party 15, 17
  30. Ogburn, William F. 41*
  31. Owen, Ruth Bryan 28*
  32. Paul, Alice 15*, 17*
  33. Perry, Margaret 23*, 26*
  34. Pollitzer, Anita 25
  35. Pyke, Bernice S. 27
  36. Reyher, Rebecca 1, 5
  37. Richberg, Donald R. 48, 49*
  38. Roosevelt, Eleanor 6, 27*, 28*, 32, 41*
  39. Roosevelt, Franklin D. 28*, 31, 32, 41*, 42*, 49
  40. Ross, Nellie Tayloe 1, 28*
  41. Rumsey, Mary H. 5*, 41*, 42*, 43*, 44, 45*, 46*, 47*, 48*, 49*, 50*, 52*
  42. Schiller, Lucy White 4
  43. Schneiderman, Rose 28
  44. Smith, Jane Norman 27, 37, 38, 39
  45. Spence, Elizabeth 1
  46. Swofford, Jewell Wood 1
  47. Tate, Jack B. 1, 53*
  48. Vernon, Mabel 6, 36
  49. von Hesse, Elisabeth 6
  50. Walker, Frank C. 42*, 43*, 44*, 45, 46*, 47
  51. Ware, Caroline F. 44, 46
  52. White, Marshall K. 1, 4, 26
  53. Wiley, Anna Kelton 36
  54. Wilson, Woodrow 15*, 16*
  55. Young, Rose14

Processing Information

Reprocessed: July 1988

By: Bert Hartry

White, Sue Shelton, 1887-1943. Papers of Sue Shelton White, 1898-1963 (inclusive), 1909-1963 (bulk): 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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