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COLLECTION Identifier: M-133, reels D9-25; WRC-Jo

Papers of Grace A. Johnson in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1840-1952


Correspondence, speeches, writings, etc., of Grace A. Johnson, educator, suffragist, civic reformer, and internationalist. These papers are part of the Woman's Rights Collection.


  • Creation: 1840-1952

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed. Use microfilm (M-133, reels D9-25) or digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Grace A. Johnson as well as 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.


11.42 linear feet ((11 cartons, 1 file box) plus 4 folio folders, 4 folio+ folders, 1 folio folder, 1 folio photograph folder)

In addition to correspondence and other papers about a variety of issues, this series includes numerous lectures and speeches by Grace A. Johnson. It also documents her extensive involvement with the suffrage movement; work on behalf of prohibition; lobbying and other educational efforts to encourage U.S. participation in the League of Nations (and later the United Nations) and World Court; and attempts to make the government of Massachusetts and Cambridge more democratic. Aside from one folder of biographical information, and the autobiographical reminiscences "Recollections of the Suffrage Campaigns of 1907-1920" (#Jo 5), there is little of a personal nature, and nothing about Johnson's family life.

In reprocessing this series, the processor assumed that the existing filing system was Johnson's and/or Edna Stantial's, and rearranged papers only where necessary, with one overarching exception: because printed material not directly relevant to Johnson (i.e., not by or about her, and not essential to her work) or to women's organizations or issues (narrowly defined) was deemed to be inappropriate for inclusion in the UPA microfilm project, the processor removed most such publications and arranged them in one alphabetical sequence in Sub-series I. Most are from Sub-series F or H, with additional folders from others. Some of the publications are heavily annotated, but the annotations are not substantive. These printed materials are available for research at the Schlesinger Library.

Although a part of the Woman's Rights Collection, this series is numbered separately; each file unit is preceded by the letters Jo (for Johnson). The printed guide includes a name and subject index compiled by UPA.

Subseries A, Personal and biographical (#Jo 1-5), contains one folder of biographical information, a few letters exchanged with family members, two photographs, correspondence with Radcliffe College about the Woman's Rights Collection, and reminiscences (see above).

Subseries B, Courses taught, lectures, writings, and speeches (#Jo 6-141), is arranged in three main overlapping groups. The original designation of "course," "lecture," or "speech" was presumably assigned by Johnson or Edna Stantial. Many of the lectures, with their accompanying notes and outlines, were given to classes in the Garland School of Homemaking and Wheelock Kindergarten Training School. Johnson also spoke before a wide variety of organizations. "Speeches" are often indistinguishable from "lectures," and include topics relevant to other sub-series (e.g., suffrage or prohibition).

The subgroup "lectures" contains reference material, related correspondence, notes, and outlines in addition to lectures. Johnson reused and recombined her lectures many times over many years. Although she numbered pages, the rearrangements have left lectures with "missing" pages, which may actually appear in other folders. The lectures are arranged alphabetically using Johnson's headings; the date given is the earliest one appearing on the document.

The "lectures" section is followed by one folder of articles by Johnson, and two folders of correspondence, scripts, and other materials relating to the "Gallant American Women" radio series produced by the United States Office of Education and NBC.

The subgroup "speeches" includes correspondence about Johnson's speaking engagements (most on behalf of the League of Nations Association), clippings, and a large body of speeches by Johnson, arranged alphabetically by topic. Many of the speeches are not dated, and have been left as found. Papers from volumes dismantled for filming have also been left in their original order. Some of the folders include Johnson's notes on readings and on talks by others, as well as other reference material. Speeches are filmed before other papers in a folder.

Subseries C, Correspondence (#Jo 142-156), contains letters, invitations, and enclosures of a more general nature that were apparently filed separately by Johnson, although some pertain to other sub-series. The subseries is divided into two parts: an alphabetical sequence of correspondents for whom there are at least four items, and a chronological sequence containing the remainder of the general correspondence. Listed correspondents also appear in other sub-series; see printed guide for index.

Subseries D, Suffrage and women's political participation (#Jo 157-232), contains papers from various national and Massachusetts suffrage organizations, the Progressive Party (PP) campaign of 1912, the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Massachusetts and of Cambridge, and the Woman's Centennial Congress (WCC) of 1940. The papers pertaining to suffrage organizations and the PP are arranged alphabetically by name of organization, and are followed by a general suffrage section, the League of Women Voters, and the Woman's Centennial Congress.

The Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government papers mainly document Johnson's work on A Citizen's Guide, a manual on Massachusetts government in 1919. The Cambridge Political Equality Association papers contain correspondence and statements about an internal controversy in 1911 over the renomination of recording secretary Edna Spencer, as well as reports (1896-1916), constitutions, membership and officer lists, and an analysis of the Cambridge suffrage vote in 1915.

There is one folder each for the College Equal Suffrage League of Boston, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, and the Framingham Equal Suffrage League.

The Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) papers include reports and notes about various meetings and activities, 1914-1916; general correspondence, 1914-1918; correspondence, reports, and canvassing information relating to the Middlesex County conferences of the suffrage campaign chairmen, 1914-1915; correspondence, surveys, and publicity for the Victory Parade of 1915; correspondence re: the effect of Johnson's speech at Camp Devens (Ayer, Massachusetts); correspondence re: a mass meeting at the Boston Opera House in 1918; membership lists for the Cambridge Division Men's Council and Council of One Hundred, 1919; notes and printed material about Sen. John Weeks, 1918; and printed materials by and about MWSA.

One folder of National American Woman Suffrage Association correspondence, 1905-1919, includes the 1916 report of the Massachusetts Congressional Committee, Johnson's NAWSA honor roll certificate, and printed material by NAWSA.

Papers relating to the Progressive Party campaign of 1912 are included in this sub-series because of the Party's strong support for woman's suffrage. They consist of correspondence, minutes of the Massachusetts delegation, membership lists, notes, a photograph of the Massachusetts delegates, convention programs and related campaign material, published items by and about the PP, and correspondence with the National Roosevelt League.

A treasurer's book for ca. 1912-1919 provides the only documentation in this series of the Woman Suffrage Party of Cambridge. There is one folder of additional records in the Woman Suffrage Party series of WRC (WRC #1103).

The general suffrage section contains correspondence and other items the relation of which to a specific organization is not known. Also included are numerous clippings about suffrage, and one folder of printed anti-suffrage material.

The one folder of Boston League of Women Voters (LWV) papers includes correspondence and printed material, 1920-1926, as well as the 1926 edition of the Manual for Massachusetts Voters.

The papers pertaining to the League of Women Voters of Cambridge focus mainly on Johnson's work for "Plan E," which provides for a system of government by a city council elected at large by proportional representation. The four folders for the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts consist mainly of correspondence, programs, and related papers about the League's School of Politics (offered jointly with Radcliffe College), one folder of League of Women Voters publications, a small amount of general correspondence, and a certificate honoring Massachusetts women, including Johnson.

Subseries E, Prohibition (#Jo 233-249), contains correspondence, notes, reports, and publications of the Women's National Committee for Law Enforcement (WNCLE) and its affiliate, the Massachusetts Woman's Committee for Law Enforcement, as well as publications by other organizations and numerous clippings. For Johnson's anecdotal report of her Congressional testimony against repeal of the 18th Amendment, see #Jo 124 in Sub-series B.

Subseries F, International (#Jo 250-311), consists of papers from organizations devoted to international cooperation and understanding and world peace in which Johnson was active. The largest segment pertains to the League of Nations; its successor, the United Nations; and the Permanent Court of International Justice, popularly known as the World Court. Papers of other organizations, arranged alphabetically, follow. Most official publications have been moved to Subseries I.

This subseries documents Johnson's work on behalf of the League of Free Nations Association, the Massachusetts Committee of One Hundred of the Women's Non-Partisan Committee for the League of Nations, the League of Nations Non-Partisan Association, and their successors: the League of Nations Association (LNA) and its Massachusetts branch, particularly its education committee (known also as "educational" committee), of which Johnson was chairman, and the United Nations Association, formed April 15, 1943. Included are minutes; agendas; reports; correspondence documenting the LNA's lobbying efforts and its internal difficulties, particularly over financing of the education committee's work; correspondence, memoranda, and programs for the model assemblies and dramas; correspondence re: Courtenay Crocker's campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate; and clippings.

Johnson's dramatizations of the League's actions with regard to China and Japan during 1931-1933 are also here, as well as her correspondence with Sir Herbert Ames, who helped write the 1933 version, The Case of China and Japan Before the League of Nations..... This was a continuation of The Dispute Between China and Japan over Manchuria..., written and performed in 1932. Drafts with only minor variations were not filmed.

The World Court folders contain correspondence about Johnson's map, designed to educate the public on World Court membership and interventions, and about various other educational and lobbying efforts directed towards United States participation in the World Court.

Other organizations or events related to international understanding and world peace are arranged alphabetically. A few of these are noted below.

The group organizing the Armistice Day Parade of November 11, 1925, variously known as the Armistice Day Committee or the Armistice Day Peace Parade, is represented by correspondence, memos, and leaflets.

The Jessie Woodrow Sayre Scholarship Foundation was established in 1934 as a memorial to Jessie Woodrow Sayre (also known as Jessie Wilson Sayre), daughter of Woodrow Wilson and advocate of international cooperation. There is one folder of correspondence, memos, and leaflets.

Johnson's work as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Division of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation (1921-1922) is documented by correspondence, financial records, invitations, etc. The foundation was established for the purpose of honoring Woodrow Wilson, and "recognizing and stimulating meritorious service to democracy, public welfare, liberal thought or peace through justice."

Johnson's attendance at the fourth congress of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1924 is documented in #Jo 297-298. Included are her descriptions of delegates, notes on proceedings, brief notes exchanged with Jane Addams, and the Report of the Fourth Congress.

Subseries G, Other political campaigns and issues (#Jo 312-328), is a relatively small section containing papers about Johnson's activities in organizations or campaigns not related to those already described above (subseries D-F). Divided into two subgroups, Massachusetts and national, it includes a few papers about political campaigns, and of the Massachusetts section of the National Civic Federation League and various other organizations. There are only two folders of papers of the Massachusetts Single Tax League, even though Johnson's husband, Lewis Jerome Johnson, served as president, and Johnson was a member of the advisory board and the executive committee.

Subseries H, Subject file (#Jo 329-355), is essentially a reference file, and has been weeded substantially: all printed material not pertaining to Johnson (i.e., by or about her or her husband) or women's issues has been transferred to Subseries I and not filmed. The remaining relevant file units contain printed material and/or notes by Johnson on the various subjects; there is little correspondence in this sub-series. Headings are those of Johnson and/or Edna Stantial.

Subseries I, Printed material (#Jo 357-495), contains publications by the United States and Massachusetts governments, League of Nations, United Nations, World Court, and various other agencies and organizations, as well as political and scientific journals, tear-sheets, pamphlets, leaflets, clippings, etc., all removed from preceding sub-series. Publications by the Committee on Militarism in Education are in #Jo 378-380. Many items are annotated by Johnson. Most of the publications are generally available; the processor is not aware of any unique or rare items in this sub-series. This material has not been filmed as part of the UPA project, but is available for research at the Schlesinger Library.


Grace Allen Johnson, educator, suffragist, civic reformer, internationalist, and lecturer, was born on September 29, 1871, in Maples, Indiana, the fourth of the five daughters of Elizabeth Harriet (Bennett) and Appleton Howe Fitch, both from New England. Among her sisters was the well-known children's author and illustrator Lucy (Fitch) Perkins. The family lived in Indiana and Michigan, settling for a time in Kalamazoo; they returned to Hopkinton, Massachusetts (ancestral home of the Howe and Fitch families), when Grace was fourteen. She attended public school, graduating in 1890. Her adult life is summarized in the following chronology.

  1. 1891: Graduated from Pratt Institute Library School, Brooklyn, New York.
  2. 1891-1892: Worked as assistant reference librarian, Pratt Institute
  3. 1892: Moved with family to Evanston, Illinois; studied botany at Harvard Summer School
  4. 1893: Married Lewis Jerome Johnson (Harvard A.B. 1887, C.E. 1888) in June
  5. 1893-1894: Studied chemistry at Northwestern University
  6. 1894: Moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where husband joined Engineering Department of Harvard University
  7. 1896: Son, Jerome Allen, born
  8. 1902: Second son, Chandler Winslow, born
  9. 1907: Traveled to Europe with family, became interested in woman suffrage
  10. 1911-1915: Served as president, Cambridge Political Equality Association
  11. 1912: One of three Massachusetts women delegates to Progressive Party national convention in Chicago; campaigned for Progressive Party candidates
  12. 1912-1914: President, Cambridge Public School Association
  13. 1914-1917: Congressional chairman, Middlesex County and Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA)
  14. 1915-1917: Member, National Council, National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
  15. 1917: Chairman, State Board of Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA)
  16. 1918: Defeat of anti-suffrage Senator John Weeks (Massachusetts)
  17. 1919-1920: With Mary P. Sleeper, edited A Citizen's Guide for Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government
  18. 1919-1940: Lecturer, Garland School for Homemaking, Boston
  19. 1920: Name entered on honor roll of National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
  20. 1922: Executive secretary, Massachusetts Woodrow Wilson Foundation
  21. 1923: Member of Council, Massachusetts Foreign Policy Association
  22. 1924: Attended Women's International League for Peace and Freedom convention, Washington, D.C.
  23. 1925: Member, Board of Directors, Massachusetts League of Nations Association (LNA)
  24. 1926-1933: Chairman (state), Educational Committee, League of Nations Association (LNA)
  25. 1926: Spent September in Geneva, Switzerland, attending commissions, council, and assembly of League of Nations
  26. 1927-1938: Lecturer, Wheelock Kindergarten Training School
  27. 1928: Campaigned for Herbert Hoover
  28. 1929: Member, Massachusetts Women's Law Enforcement Committee
  29. 1929-1930: Lecturer, Boston University School of Education; lecturer, Massachusetts Department of Education, University Extension
  30. 1930-1938: President, Board of Trustees, Garland School
  31. 1930: Name entered on 10th anniversary honor roll of suffrage pioneers; member, National Council, League of Nations Association (LNA); wrote Text for a Model Council and A Model Assembly of the League of Nations; wrote The Dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay, 1930; testified before United States Congress in support of prohibition
  32. 1931: Wrote The Case of the S.S. Lotus and the World Court; produced map showing disputes settled by World Court
  33. 1932: Wrote and supervised production of The Dispute Between China and Japan over Manchuria: A Dramatization of the 65th Session of the Council of the League of Nations
  34. 1933: With Sir Herbert Ames, wrote The Case of China and Japan before the League of Nations: A Dramatization of the Events of 1931-1933
  35. 1937: Public Forum leader (United States Department of Interior, Office of Education), Manchester, New Hampshire
  36. 1940: Delegate to Woman's Centennial Congress; Cambridge (Massachusetts) adopted "Plan E" form of government
  37. 1952: Died on January 17

Politically liberal, Johnson was an activist for woman suffrage, for United States participation in the League of Nations (and later the United Nations) and World Court, and for various civic reforms (e.g., initiative and referendum, proportional representation). She defined herself as an educator, lecturing and writing on a wide range of topics including suffrage, the status of women, prohibition, aspects of democracy and government structure, international cooperation, and public speaking techniques. Her husband, a civil engineer, shared her political beliefs; he published numerous pamphlets on political reform.


The collection is arranged in 9 subseries:

  1. A. Personal and biographical
  2. B. Courses taught, lectures, writings, and speeches
  3. C. General correspondence
  4. D. Suffrage and women's political participation
  5. E. Prohibition
  6. F. International
  7. G. Other political issues and campaigns
  8. H. Subject file
  9. I. Printed material

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers of Grace Allen Johnson fill 492 folders and three volumes of the Woman's Rights Collection, which was given to Radcliffe College by Maud Wood Park and others in August 1943 and formed the nucleus of the Women's Archives, later the Schlesinger Library. The material in folders 1-356 of this series was prepared for microfilming in January 1991 by Katherine Kraft. It was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publication of America project.


Although most items are arranged chronologically within folders, speeches and lectures (many of which are undated, or have several dates) are filmed as grouped, in no particular order. Fragments are marked [frag.].

University Publications of America proofread the film and compiled the name and subject index in the printed guide.

Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film due to such problems as faint or smudged pencil notations, and creased and brittle paper and newsprint. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.

All photographs were microfilmed with the collection. They are also available on the microfilm of the Schlesinger Library photograph collection (M-54).

In some cases, Johnson used pins to attach strips of paper together; some pins have been left in place during filming.

A large quantity of printed material (#Jo 357-495) deemed inappropriate for inclusion in the UPA microfilm was transferred to Sub-series I from other series. These printed materials are organized and listed alphabetically by topic in the inventory, and available for research at the Schlesinger Library.

Johnson, Grace A., 1871-1952. Papers of Grace A. Johnson in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1840-1952: 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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