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COLLECTION Identifier: A-147; M-133

Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1968

Correspondence, scrapbooks, speeches, etc., of Helen Brewster Owens, mathematician and suffragist.

Dates

  • 1867-1968

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

TERMS OF USE

Access. Folders #144-161 are open for research. Folders #1-143 are closed; use microfilm M-133.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Helen Brewster Owens 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.

Extent

4.38 linear feet ((10+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 2 supersize folders)

This collection has been divided into four series: Personal and biographical, Suffrage, Post-suffrage women's activities, and Women in mathematics and the sciences.

The papers provide information about Owens' involvement in the New York and Kansas suffrage campaigns and the Woman's Centennial Congress, her interest in the World Center for Women's Archives, and her research on women in mathematics and the sciences. In the papers given to the library by Owens there is little or no information about her personal life (childhood, adolescence, education, marriage, or children).

Series I, Personal and biographical, 1902-1968, n.d. (#1-5), includes photocopies of clippings and other material gathered by the processor from the educational institutions at which Owens studied or taught, correspondence with her family, one letter from Catharine Waugh McCulloch, a wedding announcement, and Owens' speeches and other writings.

Series II, Suffrage, 1867, 1895, 1907-1926, n.d. (#6-120), is divided into the following sections: New York State (1867, 1907-1917), Kansas (1909-1914), miscellaneous, and material removed from two scrapbooks. The bulk of the material (#6-58) is New York State correspondence. There are also organizational records, itineraries, reports, lists, schedules, notes, broadsides (including foreign language ones), pamphlets, posters, clippings, suffrage songs, maps, vote tallies, press releases, constitutions of suffrage organizations, and programs.

The items in the scrapbooks were removed for preservation purposes and to facilitate microfilming. The scrapbooks had not been kept in any discernible order; the processor arranged the material in the same order as that of the other sections in this series. Material can include broadsides, fliers, programs, clippings, and songs.

Series III, Post-suffrage women's activities, 1936-1948, n.d. (#121-128), is divided into the following sections: Woman's Centennial Congress (1940); World Center for Women's Archives; Gallant American Women, an NBC radio series (1940); and miscellaneous. The material consists of correspondence, newsletters, programs, reports, schedules, etc., and is arranged chronologically within each section.

Series IV, Women in mathematics and the sciences, 1906-1962, n.d. (#129-161), is divided as follows: correspondence, questionnaires, lists, speeches, clippings, draft of book, and writings (dissertations and articles) by women mathematicians. These dissertations and articles were not microfilmed; some were assembled for Woman's Centennial Congress in1940, and the World Center for Women's Archives. Correspondence includes letters from Mary Winston Newson, Anna Pell Wheeler, Emily Fogg Mead, Winifred Edgerton Merrill, and Ruth R. Struik, some regarding "Women in Mathematics" questionnaires. The writings and the questionnaires are arranged alphabetically by author, the other sections chronologically.

An index of selected correspondents in Series I, II, and III follows the inventory. Although there is correspondence in all four series, only the series pertaining to Owens' suffrage and women's rights activities (the three series that appear on the microfilm) have been indexed.

Most clippings were discarded after microfilming.

BIOGRAPHY

Helen Brewster Owens, mathematician and suffragist, was born on April 2, 1881, in Pleasanton, Kansas, the daughter of Clara (Linton) and Robert Edward Brewster. Her mother, a teacher, was president of the Linn County Women's Suffrage Association, and in 1893 Owens, then a young girl, helped her distribute suffrage literature at the county fair. Little else is known about her childhood and adolescence. Her adult life is reflected in the following chronology.
  1. 1900: B.A., University of Kansas; youngest member of class
  2. 1901: A.M., University of Kansas
  3. 1901-1902, 1904-1905: Mathematics fellowship, University of Kansas
  4. 1902-1904: Math teacher at Lawrence, Kansas, high school
  5. 1904: Marries fellow student and mathematician, Frederick William Owens
  6. 1905: Moves to Chicago; daughter, Helen Brewster Owens, born
  7. 1905-1907: Graduate student, University of Chicago
  8. 1907: Frederick William Owens receives Ph.D. from University of Chicago; move to Ithaca, New York
  9. 1907-1926: Frederick William Owens mathematics professor at Cornell University
  10. 1908: Daughter, Clara Brewster Owens, born
  11. 1908-1928: Private math teacher intermittently
  12. ca.1909: Begins suffrage work
  13. 1910: Receives Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell; chairman of Resolutions Committee, New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA)
  14. 1910-1912: Math teacher at University Preparatory School
  15. 1910-1916: Officer of Political Study Club of Ithaca
  16. 1911: Organizes College Equal Suffrage League at Cornell; elected Press Work chairman, New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA)
  17. 1911-1912: Campaigns for suffrage in Kansas, stays with Sallie (Lindsay) and William Allen White in Emporia
  18. 1913-1916: Paid organizer and chairman of Sixth Judicial District for Empire State Campaign Committee
  19. 1914: Husband and daughter hurt in accident while riding in Votes for Women car
  20. 1914-1917: Assistant professor of mathematics, Wells College, Aurora, New York
  21. 1917-1922: Math instructor, Cornell University
  22. 1925: Daughter Helen receives A.B. from Cornell University
  23. 1926: Moves to State College, Pennsylvania: Frederick William Owens head of math department, Pennsylvania State University; Daughter Clara receives A.B. from Cornell University
  24. 1928: Daughter Helen commits suicide, Chicago
  25. 1930: Clara marries Thomas Brigham Aitcheson, Jr.
  26. 1931: Clara and Thomas Brigham Aitcheson, Jr. graduate from Cornell Medical School; Grandson born; Son-in-law Thomas Brigham Aitcheson, Jr. dies
  27. 1933: Clara begins medical practice in Ithaca
  28. 1934: Helen Brewster Owens and Frederick William Owens visit 48 states, Mexico, and Canada
  29. 1935: Associate editor, American Mathematical Monthly
  30. 1936: Does research on women in mathematics and sciences
  31. 1937: Chairman, study group, "Evolution of Present Status of Women"; Helps organize September meeting of American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America (at Pennsylvania State University), and Sigma Delta Epsilon lunch for women; Sends out first questionnaire to women with doctorates in mathematics and sciences
  32. 1940: Sends out second questionnaire, with letter requesting copies of work for both Woman's Centennial Congress and World Center for Women's Archives; attends Congress
  33. 1941-1949: Teaches at Pennsylvania State University, reaching rank of assistant professor
  34. 1949: Helen Brewster Owens and Frederick William Owens retire
  35. 1960: Attends 60th class reunion at University of Kansas
  36. 1961: Frederick William Owen dies
  37. 1968: Helen Brewster Owens dies June 6 in Martinsburg, West Virginia
Owens was a member of Sigma Xi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Pi Mu Epsilon, American Association of University Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Mathematical Association of America, American Mathematical Society, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Little is known about her life after her retirement in 1949.

For additional biographical information see Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-1915, edited by John William Leonard (New York: American Commonwealth Co., 1914), pages 615-16. There is Owens correspondence in the Mary Winston papers at the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in four series:
  1. Series I. Personal and biographical, 1902-1968, n.d. (#1-5)
  2. Series II. Suffrage, 1867, 1895, 1907-1926, n.d. (#6-120)
  3. Series III. Post-suffrage women's activities, 1936-1948, n.d. (#121-128)
  4. Series IV. Women in mathematics and the sciences, 1906-1962, n.d. (#129-161)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 789, 75-54, 88-M177

The bulk of these papers was given to the Schlesinger Library in 1964 by Helen Brewster Owens. The small collection numbered A/O97 has been integrated. Most of the biographical material in #1 was obtained by the Library in 1988. The collection was reprocessed and Series I, II, III, and a portion of IV were microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.

MICROFILM OF COLLECTION

Dates and/or other information have been written on some items by a number of people. In organizing the material, the processor accepted dates added by others. All dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.

The pages of some items were numbered to aid the microfilmer, the proofreaders, and researchers.

The film was proofread by University Publications of America.

Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film due to such problems as flimsy paper with text showing through, faint pencil signatures, creased and brittle paper, faded or blurred carbon copies, and colored paper. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.

The reverse sides of outdated letterhead and form letters were sometimes used by Owens for carbon copies, drafts, or notes; print may show through.

Carbon copies of letters to different recipients sometimes appear on the same sheet (front and back).

In many cases, the enclosures referred to in letters are missing.

Letters of one or more pages with either the salutation or the signature missing, as well as portions of letters, have been marked as fragments.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Helen Brewster Owens Additional papers, 1882-1958 (MC 858).

CONTAINER LIST

  1. Box 1: Folders 1-15
  2. Box 2: Folders 16-30
  3. Box 3: Folders 31-46
  4. Box 4: Folders 47-60
  5. Box 5: Folders 61-80
  6. Box 6: Folders 81-101
  7. Box 7: Folders 102-120
  8. Box 8: Folders 121-135
  9. Box 9: Folders 136-147
  10. Box 10: Folders 148-157
  11. Box 11: Folders 158-161
INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS This index includes the names of selected writers (including organizations) and recipients. Information about persons and subjects is not indexed.

Key:
INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS
  1. No symbol = Writer
  2. *= Writer and recipient
  3. ▪= Recipient
INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS The numbers refer to folders.
INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS
  1. Angell, Pauline K. 17*, 18, 19*, 20, 21*, 22?, 23-25, 28*, 29, 31, 34*, 36, 37?, 39, 41*, 43, 46
  2. Avery, Rachel Foster 6
  3. Babcock, Caroline Lexow 6, 11, 30, 31?, 32, 33
  4. Baldwin, Kati M. S. 7, 8*-11*, 12-14, 16, 19, 44
  5. Barton, Belle 39, 42, 45
  6. Beard, Mary R. 126, 127
  7. Blake, Katherine Devereux 45*, 46-49, 50*, 51, 53, 55, 57
  8. Blatch, Harriot Stanton 33
  9. Borden, Marjorie 46, 47, 48*, 50*, 51
  10. Brewster, Anna Louise 2*
  11. Brewster, Clara Linton 2?
  12. Brown, Gertrude Foster 13*, 14, 18, 20?, 22, 27, 29, 30?, 31*-34*, 39, 40, 45, 47-49, 52, 54, 55, 57, 58, 75
  13. Burrows, Roxana 6, 7, 10, 12*, 13, 22, 25*, 35?, 45
  14. Cannon, Jenny Curtis 7, 8?, 10*, 11*, 13, 14*, 15, 18, 21*-23*, 25*, 26, 27*, 28*, 29, 30*, 32*, 33, 34*, 36*, 37, 43-51, 53*, 54-57, 75
  15. Catt, Carrie Chapman 7, 12, 13*-15*, 19*-23*, 24, 25*, 26, 27, 28*, 30?, 32*-35*, 36, 37*, 38-40, 41*-43*, 44, 45*-47*, 48, 49, 50*, 52*-54*, 55-58, 122
  16. Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage 19, 22, 25
  17. Dakin, Pauline M. 8*, 10*, 11?, 12, 15
  18. Dean, Addie M. 8*, 10*, 16?, 19, 27, 29, 34
  19. Decker, Janet 12, 13, 19*, 20*, 28?, 38
  20. Denison, Lotta Jones 17, 18, 20*, 21, 22*, 23-27, 28*, 30*-32*, 33, 34*, 36, 37*, 38-41, 43-45, 46*, 47, 48, 50, 51*, 52, 53*, 54, 55, 58
  21. Dennett, Mary Ware 6, 13, 19, 20, 49, 50?, 56
  22. Dreier, Katherine S. 47, 51*, 52
  23. Eacker, Helen N. 7, 46*, 47, 48*-50*, 51, 52, 53*, 54-56, 79
  24. Empire State Campaign Committee 14-55, 58
  25. Equal Franchise Society 10-14, 17, 19, 20, 38, 48, 58
  26. Farrar, Frances 8?, 9*-11*, 17*, 18, 19, 20*, 21, 22*, 23, 24*, 25, 27, 29*, 42
  27. Farrington, Anna C. 7, 12, 13, 18, 33
  28. Fisher, Anna W. 26, 32, 33?, 47, 53?
  29. Funk, Antoinette 22-24, 29, 31
  30. Gapen, Flora 13, 17, 18*, 19?, 20, 26, 27, 56, 58
  31. Gitchell, Ida A. 31?, 45, 46?
  32. Gore, Frances Field 7, 8*, 9*, 11, 12, 15*, 19?, 24, 43
  33. Greene, Antoinette 9?, 10*, 29
  34. Hamilton, Cora Perry 25, 27-29, 31, 32, 33*, 34*, 35?, 36, 37, 41-47, 51
  35. Hansl, Eva Elise (vom Baur) 126
  36. Hopewell, Florence 38, 41, 44, 46, 47
  37. Howes, Ethel Puffer 54
  38. Huffcut, Lillian 16*, 18, 19, 20*, 23, 28, 29, 31*, 34*, 35, 36*, 37, 39-45, 47*, 48*, 50, 52, 54-57
  39. Ingalls, Mary L. 10, 12, 52
  40. International Woman Suffrage Alliance 7, 13, 14
  41. Johnston, Lucy B. 79
  42. Kansas Equal Suffrage Association 79
  43. King, Florence M. 14, 36*, 37, 38*
  44. Laidlaw, Harriet B. 10*, 36?, 79
  45. Laidlaw, James Lees 45, 46
  46. Lee, Helen K. 28?-30?, 31, 33, 34?, 35, 37*, 40, 42, 44, 45, 48, 51, 52, 53*, 54, 58*
  47. Lemmi, Elizabeth C. 18, 19, 24, 25, 31?, 32*, 33*
  48. Lexow, Mrs. Clarence 2
  49. Livermore, Henrietta W. 7, 8?-11?, 12, 13*, 14
  50. Livermore, Leila J. 17, 18
  51. McCormick, Ruth 20, 22, 25, 40
  52. McCulloch, Catharine Waugh 2, 12*, 14, 51, 58, 79
  53. McEwan, Katherine L. 10?, 13, 16, 26, 27?, 44, 58?
  54. McKinnon, Mary L. 43, 45, 46, 48
  55. McNamara, Helen C. 12, 13*, 14?, 26, 27?, 31*, 32*
  56. Mansfield, Helen C. 17, 18?, 42*, 44, 45
  57. Manus, M. T. 8?, 9
  58. Manus, Maye W. 9?, 10*, 18, 25
  59. Matteson, Florence M. 19*, 20*, 25?
  60. Men's League for Woman Suffrage 45, 46
  61. Menzie, Frances B. 8*-10*, 11
  62. Mills, Frances Park 6
  63. Mills, Harriet May 6, 7, 8*, 9*, 10, 11*, 12, 13, 16*, 19, 20*, 21, 22*, 23*, 26, 31*, 32, 33?, 36, 37, 41, 43, 46?, 48?, 49, 55
  64. Mott, Isabella 9?, 10?, 11*, 12, 16, 29?
  65. Mott, Ruth N. J. 12
  66. Nathan, Maud 79
  67. National American Woman Suffrage Association 6, 7, 9-13, 14?, 18?, 19, 20, 22-25, 29, 31, 35?, 37*, 52-54
  68. National Broadcasting Co., Inc. 127
  69. National College Equal Suffrage League 6, 54
  70. New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage 19, 20
  71. New York State Woman Suffrage Association 6-16, 18, 20-23, 26-34, 36, 38-41, 43-49, 52-57, 75
  72. Norton, Jessie 10, 12*, 14*, 15, 16*, 18, 19?, 20*, 21*, 22-26, 28?, 29, 30*, 31?, 32?, 33*, 34, 35, 37-39, 41, 43- 47, 48*, 49-52, 54, 55, 58
  73. Olcott, Alice G. 41
  74. Olcott, Jane 18, 20, 23?, 25?, 26*, 27*, 28, 29?, 30?, 31*, 32*, 33, 34*, 35*, 36, 38-40, 41*, 43, 44, 45*, 47, 48, 49*, 50*, 53, 54
  75. Owens, Frederick William 2?, 79?
  76. Page, Emily Benton 31*, 39, 50
  77. Paul, Alice 10, 11, 19, 22
  78. Peck, Mary Gray 49-53, 58
  79. Putnam, George Haven 48
  80. Ryan, Agnes E. 10?, 18, 41, 46, 49, 50, 55
  81. Seabring, Lena S. 10, 11*, 46, 47, 48?, 50-55, 57
  82. Schlingheyde, Clara M. 15, 16*-18*, 19, 20*-25*, 27*-32*, 34*, 35*, 36, 37*, 38, 39*, 41?, 43-49, 54, 55, 58
  83. Shaw, Anna Howard 6, 16?, 17*
  84. Shuler, Nettie R. 39-41, 42*, 44, 45*, 46*, 48*, 51*, 57, 58
  85. Topliff, Margaret Cameron 8*, 9?-11?, 12, 13*, 17, 21*, 22*, 23, 24, 25*, 29*, 32*, 33*, 34?, 36-40, 43, 46, 47, 49, 50
  86. VanDer Cook, Frances 12, 13, 16*, 17, 19*, 20, 21*, 22, 23, 45
  87. vom Baur, Eva Elise, see Hansl, Eva Elise (vom Baur)
  88. Washington, Booker T. 79?
  89. Welles, Mary Sayre 33, 40-46, 48, 50-52, 53*, 54, 55, 58
  90. White, William Allen 21, 22
  91. Whitehouse, Vira Boarman 56, 57*, 58
  92. Woman Suffrage Party of the City of New York 13, 18, 47
  93. Woman Voter 17, 18?, 20, 26, 27, 48, 49, 56, 58
  94. Woman's Centennial Congress 122, 123
  95. Woman's Christian Temperance Union 48, 52
  96. Woman's Journal 10*, 18, 41, 46, 49, 50, 55
  97. Women's Political Union 15, 30, 32, 41?, 54
  98. Woodhouse, Chase Going 122
  99. Woolston, Florence 48, 49
  100. World Center for Women's Archives, Inc. 126
  101. Wyckoff, Alice Brooks 30?, 32, 33
  102. Yeomans, Mabel Ford 8?, 9*, 10*, 11?, 12, 15*-17*, 18, 19*-22*, 30*, 31*, 51, 58?
  103. Young, Rose 48, 54

Processing Information

Reprocessed: December 1988

By: Bert Hartry
Link to catalog
Title
Owens, Helen Brewster, 1881-1968. Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1968: A Finding Aid
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
EAD ID
sch00069

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.

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