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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 405; M-133, reel D4

Papers of Margaret Foley and Helen Elizabeth Goodnow, 1882-1965


Postcards, pamphlets, correspondence, photographs, etc., of Margaret Foley and Helen Elizabeth Goodnow, suffragists.


  • 1882-1965

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Margaret Foley and Helen Elizabeth Goodnow 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.


.21 linear feet (1/2 file box)

The Foley papers consist of post cards and letters, most to and from Margaret Foley, which document some of Foley's suffrage speaking tours in Ohio and other states. Pamphlets collected by Foley reflect her labor background and discuss some of the issues with which the Fabian Club, Boston Women's Trade Union League, and the National Women's Trade Union League were concerned.

The Goodnow papers include photographs, correspondence, clippings, and an invitation which provide fragmentary information about Helen Elizabeth Goodnow's interests and family. Her notebook documents some of Goodnow's suffrage work and the Massachusetts suffrage campaign; it was dismantled for preservation purposes.


Margaret Foley was born on March 19, 1875, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A member of the Hat Trimmers' Union, Foley was on the board of the Boston Women's Trade Union League (BWTUL). She was employed by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) from 1906 to 1915 as a speaker and manager of organization work. After making open air suffrage speaking tours across Massachusetts, in 1911 Foley attended the International Woman Suffrage Alliance convention in Stockholm and spent a month in London studying English suffrage tactics. Between 1912 and 1918 Foley traveled to other states to help organizations campaign in critical referenda and elections.

In addition to her suffrage work, Margaret Foley was a Trustee for Children in the Children's Institutions Department, 1913-1920, and deputy commissioner of the Child Welfare Division in the Institutions Department, 1920-1926, both for the City of Boston. Foley never married and probably lived with her long time friend Helen Elizabeth Goodnow for many years. For further biographical information see the biography accompanying the Margaret Foley Collection (MC 404) in the Schlesinger Library. For additional papers, see MC 404, A/F663, and the Foley series of the Women's Rights Collection.

Helen Elizabeth Goodnow was born in 1894, probably into a well to do family, and lived in the Boston area. In the 1910s she campaigned for suffrage in Boston, serving as chairman of Ward 25 in Brighton, perhaps under the auspices of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. Goodnow probably accompanied Margaret Foley on her "Southern Trip" in 1916. She was living with Foley at the time of the latter's death.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 79-M131

These papers of Margaret Foley and Helen Elizabeth Goodnow were purchased by the Schlesinger Library from Ahab Rare Books in June 1979. The collection was microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America Project.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Margaret Foley papers, 1847-1968 (MC 404) Margaret Foley papers in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1911-1924 (M-133, reel D4; WRC 62-64af); and Margaret Foley Additional papers, 1900-1974 (MC 840).

Processing Information

Processed: September 1990

By: Kim Brookes

Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers of Margaret Foley and Helen Elizabeth Goodnow, 1882-1965: 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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