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COLLECTION Identifier: A-68, Series X

Papers of Anna Howard Shaw in the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1863-1961


Papers of minister, physician, lecturer, and suffragist, Anna Howard Shaw.


  • Creation: 1863-1961


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed. Use microfilm (M-133, reel A14-18) or digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Anna Howard Shaw 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.


210 folders

Though the Anna Howard Shaw and Lucy Elmina Anthony papers do not provide a full record of either woman's life, they do reveal something of their personalities. Shaw's humor, sarcasm, and unflagging devotion to the cause of woman suffrage, as well as Lucy Elmina Anthony's fierce loyalty to the cause and to Shaw, are readily apparent.

The papers bear evidence of their extensive use by Ida Husted Harper in the preparation of her unpublished Shaw biography, the original of which is in the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; for drafts see folders #355-358. She heavily marked not only her typed transcriptions, but also original documents. Annotations by Lucy Elmina Anthony and Caroline I. Reilly are so labeled. Dates provided by Ida Husted Harper and Lucy Elmina Anthony have been accepted by the processor, unless there was contradictory evidence.

Subseries A, Archival and biographical, ca.1863-1961 (#350-373f), contains correspondence of Lucy Elmina Anthony with Mary Earhart Dillon and Nicolas Shaw Fraser re: the disposition of the Anna Howard Shaw papers, and archival notes. The bulk of the subseries consists of biographical papers: teaching certificates and contracts; results of medical school examinations; programs, passes, etc.; Shaw reminiscences; notes for and drafts of the Ida Husted Harper biography; tributes and other biographical material, both printed and handwritten (see also #555-558); clippings, some in an extremely fragile scrapbook; and photographs of Shaw, her friends, her house, suffrage groups, landscapes, and the christening (1943) of the battleship SS Anna Howard Shaw.

Subseries B, Diaries and appointment books, 1889-1919 (#374v-416), contains books of both Shaw and Lucy Elmina Anthony. Most of Shaw's diary entries (1898-1919) are brief, though some are full pages. Many pages are blank; these have not been filmed. Diary entries for November 1901 to February 1902 describe Shaw's travels to various countries in and around the Caribbean, especially Cuba, Jamaica, and Venezuela. A few "diaries" are essentially appointment books, but the processor has not changed Lucy Elmina Anthony's original designations. While some appointment books (1889-1911) are inscribed "Anna Howard Shaw" and others "Lucy E. Anthony," Lucy Elmina Anthony's writing appears in both; the engagements are apparently those of Shaw. The 1900 diary and 1904 appointment book originally received with the collection are currently missing; there were no diaries for 1907 or 1909, and no 1908 appointment book.

Subseries C, Writings and speeches, 1871-1919 (#417-500), contains a lecture itinerary; programs and publicity; tributes to Shaw as a speaker; press releases; and speeches, articles, and statements. Most are suffrage speeches, though some are about temperance, World War I, and other topics; see the inventory for a complete list. Shaw usually spoke extemporaneously; many speeches are thus transcripts by others, and a number are printed. The transcripts carry annotations by Shaw, Ida Husted Harper, and others. The subseries is arranged chronologically; the inventory provides titles and locales where known. The processor supplemented information on the documents with that provided by Wilmer Albert Linkugel in The Speeches of Anna Howard Shaw. Some of the unidentified items in #496 may be excerpts of longer speeches.

A number of speeches have penciled numbers (e.g."#71") in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. These refer to folders in a previous arrangement; they have been retained to help researchers attempting to match earlier citations. This subseries spans Shaw's oratorical career, from the rough notes for her first sermon (1871) to a speech on lynching given two months before her death. Shaw had a number of set themes and delivered similar speeches repeatedly over the years throughout the United States and also abroad. Most speeches were written and delivered by Shaw; a few speeches and reports by others are included at the end of the subseries.

Subseries D, Anna Howard Shaw correspondence, 1873-1926 (#501-540), has two major divisions: correspondence arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and other correspondence. In addition, there is one folder of Shaw letters to "Home Folks," written from trips abroad.

Most of the correspondents in the alphabetical section are friends; they often addressed, and referred to, Shaw as "Ladee." The typed transcripts (prepared by Ida Husted Harper; the originals were apparently destroyed) of Shaw's letters to Lucy Elmina Anthony are informative and descriptive, as are her many letters to a close friend from childhood, Clara Osburn. The Anna Howard Shaw/Lucy Elmina Anthony transcripts retain page numbers assigned for a previous filming. There is little official National American Woman Suffrage Association correspondence, though fragments exist on the backs of unrelated documents (see #505). Shaw's work during World War I with the Woman's Committee of the United States Council of National Defense is documented in #513-516, and #559. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union correspondence contains references to the death of Frances Willard, as well as arrangements for Shaw speaking engagements.

The general correspondence, arranged chronologically, pertains to suffrage campaigns and victories, or to capital punishment, and includes invitations to lecture, birthday and get well greetings, etc. There is one folder of poems by others, most dedicated to Shaw, and one of 70th birthday greetings.

Subseries E, Lucy E. Anthony correspondence, 1900-1941 (#542-560), is divided into two main parts: correspondence arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and condolences, tributes, etc., about Shaw. Most of the letters in both sections were written after Shaw's death, and are of a personal nature.


Minister, physician, lecturer, and suffragist, Anna Howard Shaw was born on February 14, 1847, in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, the sixth of seven surviving children of Thomas Shaw and Nicolas (Stott) Shaw. Shaw described her family's move to America (first to Massachusetts and later to the Michigan wilderness), their hardships on the frontier, her determination to get an education, and her career shifts from teacher to minister to physician to social reformer in her autobiography, The Story of a Pioneer (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1915).

An avid reader, Shaw was largely self-taught before becoming a teacher at the age of 15. She later finished high school, and entered Albion College (Michigan) in 1873 at the age of 26. In 1878 she graduated from the divinity school of Boston University, the only woman in her class. In addition to performing various pastoral duties in the Methodist Protestant Church, Shaw enrolled in Boston University's medical school in 1883, graduating with an M.D. in 1886. She became increasingly convinced that the problems she encountered in her ministry and as a physician could not be solved without major political and social reforms, and that obtaining the vote for women was a necessary first step.

Lecturing and organizing on behalf of the temperance and woman suffrage movements, Shaw became one of the best-known women in the United States. Her oratorical skills were legendary; in 1913 the National Anti- Suffrage Association forbade its members to engage in any further debate with her.

In addition to serving as vice president (1892-1904) and president (1904-1915) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Shaw was chairman of the Woman's Committee of the United States Council of National Defense (1917-1919). For her extraordinary work and success in coordinating women's contributions to the war effort she was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the United States government in May 1919.

Shaw died of pneumonia on July 2, 1919, in the middle of an exhausting speaking tour on behalf of the League to Enforce Peace, an organization formed to rally support for Woodrow Wilson's proposed peace treaty and League of Nations. Lucy Elmina Anthony, niece of Susan B. Anthony, was also an active suffragist. For thirty years she was friend and secretary to Shaw; she shared a home in Moylan, Pennsylvania, with Shaw from 1903 until the latter's death in 1919.

For additional biographical information, see The Story of A Pioneer; Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971); and Wilmer A. Linkugel, "The Speeches of Anna Howard Shaw" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1960; available from University Microfilms).


The series has been rearranged and now contains five subseries; though materials created by Lucy Elmina Anthony can be found in the four Shaw subseries (A-D), the majority of her papers are in Subseries E.

  1. Subseries A. Archival and biographical, ca.1863-1961 (#350-373f)
  2. Subseries B. Diaries and appointment books, 1889-1919 (#374v-416)
  3. Subseries C. Writings and speeches, 1871-1919 (#417-500)
  4. Subseries D. Anna Howard Shaw correspondence, 1873-1926 (#501-540)
  5. Subseries E. Lucy Elmina Anthony correspondence, 1900-1941 (#542-560)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 56-121


  1. Dates and/or other information have been written on some items bya number of people. In organizing the material, the processor leftundated material that was grouped with dated items where it was. Alldates and other information added by the processor are in squarebrackets.
  2. Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film dueto such problems as flimsy paper with text showing through, faded orsmudged writing, faint pencil notations, or brittle and/or tornclippings. The film was carefully produced to insure that these itemsare as legible as possible.
  3. The film was proofread by University Publications of America.
  4. Letters of one or more pages with either the salutation or thesignature missing, as well as portions of letters, articles, orclippings, have been marked as fragments [frag.].
  5. Undated items are marked "n.d." (no date) and filmed at the endof each folder.
  6. The pages of many items were numbered to aid the microfilmer,proofreaders, and researchers. These numbers are in square brackets.
  7. The reverse sides of outdated letterhead or other "scrap" paperwas sometimes used for transcriptions, drafts, or notes. Thesereverse sides were filmed only if their respective letterheads werenot represented elsewhere in the collection, or if they containedunique text. They have been filmed at the end of each folder in whichthey appear.
  8. Portions of the transcribed Anna Howard Shaw/Lucy Elmina Anthony correspondence (#502-510)were numbered for a previous Schlesinger Library microfilm. Somepages are not in strict chronological order: those for November-December 1901, describing Anna Howard Shaw's Caribbean trip, were filed and filmedseparately from the folder of 1901-05 correspondence.
  9. Many loose clippings were mounted by the processor.
  10. Many clippings from newspapers already on microfilm (according toNewspapers in Microform, United States, Library of Congress, 1973),were discarded after filming.
  11. All photographs were microfilmed with the collection. They arealso available on the microfilm of the Schlesinger Library photographcollection (M-54).

Related Material:

This material forms part of the Schlesinger Library's Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1863-1955 (A-68).

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Anna Howard Shaw papers in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1908-1943 (WRC 1036-40).

Processing Information

Reprocessed: June 1990

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

Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919. Papers of Anna Howard Shaw in the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1863-1961: 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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