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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 953: DVD-144: MP-82: T-320: Vt-313

Papers of Frances Humphrey Howard, 1923-2003 (inclusive), 1961-2002 (bulk)


Correspondence, oral history transcripts, audiovisual material, photographs, and scrapbooks of Frances Humphrey Howard, sociologist, civil servant, and United States Foreign Service Officer.


  • Creation: 1923-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1961-2002

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Frances Humphrey Howard 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.


38.57 linear feet ((92 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 4 folio boxes, 22 photograph folders, 47 audiotapes, 4 videotapes, 2 DVDs, 3 motion pictures)
368.3 Megabytes (2 files)

The papers of Frances Humphrey Howard document her personal and professional life. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, photographs, reports, memoranda, scrapbooks, genealogies and family histories, interview transcripts, articles by and about Howard, speeches, and audiovisual material. This collection documents Howard's life-long career in public service, including her work with the United States Agency for International Development and the National Library of Medicine.

Material throughout the collection highlight the close relationship between Howard and older brother, Hubert H. Humphrey. During his lifetime, they corresponded very frequently through letters, notes, and memoranda. Howard campaigned for Humphrey several times; during the 1968 presidential election she quit her job to campaign full-time for him. This collection includes correspondence and articles reflecting her campaign work, as well as speeches she gave on the campaign trail. These documents also reflect the effort put forth by Howard to honor Hubert H. Humphrey's memory, including her support of the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, and the multiple Humphrey Cancer Centers in the United States. These records also show her efforts to promote the social programs that Humphrey endorsed, such as comprehensive health care and civil rights.

Howard's correspondence, which is located throughout the collection, often mixes business and personal information. Correspondents include author Mary Higgins Clark; Senator Claude Pepper; Greek artist Niki Goulandris; Mayoress of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Felisa Rincón de Gautier; professor Lois DeBakey; peace activist York Langton; educator Katherine Whiteside Taylor; business woman Janet Howard; environmentalist Patrick Horsbrugh; and actress and activist Marsha Hunt Presnell. Topics include political and professional favors asked of Howard and Hubert H. Humphrey, world travel, Howard's professional and volunteer work, Howard's children and grandchildren, and above all, Hubert H. Humphrey's legacy.

This collection was arranged by archivists Maida Loescher and Nancy Sahli in 2003 before it arrived at the Schlesinger Library. They grouped records into categories, and produced a container list. Howard's original folder titles were retained by the archivists, but categories were consolidated, and unsorted materials were added to existing folders or, when needed, new folders were created. These folder headings were maintained during processing in 2018; titles in brackets were created by the archivist. Electronic records were received on one photograph CD. The photograph CD was imaged using FTK Imager and Duke Data Accessioner. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1923-2002 (#1.1-9.11, 94FB.1v-96FB.1v, E.1), includes calendars, address books, scrapbooks, genealogies, obituaries, articles by and about Howard, and interview transcripts. The scrapbooks located in this series were created by Howard, and include clippings, photographs, programs, and other material related to Howard's time in high school, her career with the American Association for United Nations, United Nations Association of Maryland, and several trips to Latin America taken in the 1960s.

This series also includes material related to various projects that Howard was involved with or consulted on to honor the memory of Hubert H. Humphrey, such as book proposals, documentaries, building dedications, and public art. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Also found in this series are transcripts from several oral history interviews of Howard, which describe her childhood, her relationship with her brother, Hubert H. Humphrey, and family life, and her long career in public service. Although Howard does discuss her marriage to Iris Ray Howard in these oral history interviews, she does not mention their divorce. Audio recordings of some of these oral histories can be found in Series V.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1940-2003, n.d. (#10.1-49.10, E.2), includes Frances Humphrey Howard's correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues. Letters between Howard and her brother, Hubert H. Humphrey, reflect their close relationship, as well as their shared passion for helping others. Topics include campaign and travel arrangements, the 1968 presidential election, speaking engagements, mutual friends, family life, and Howard's employment at the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the National Library of Medicine. Also found here are a few letters sent to Humphrey at the office of the Vice President, which Humphrey shared with Howard. This series also contains Howard's correspondence with other members of her family, including her daughter Anne, son William, her grandchildren, aunts and uncles, her nieces and nephews, and her cousins in Norway. Topics include politics, Howard's health, travel, family life, the campaigns of nephew Hubert "Skip" Humphrey, and sister-in-law Muriel Humphrey's term as Minnesota Senator after Hubert H. Humphrey's death in 1978.

Howard's correspondence with friends and professional colleagues, which included presidents, ambassadors, and senators, often mention of Hubert H. Humphrey's accomplishments, campaigns, ideals, and legacy. Other topics include travel, events, fellows of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, awards received, and Howard's activities on various boards, such as the Washington Opera and Environic Foundation International. Howard's correspondence also includes details of her extensive travels around the world, including trips to Latin American, Greece and other parts of Europe, and Russia. Also found throughout this series and Series III are records documenting Howard's involvement with the founding of the National Museum of African Art, as well as its eventual purchase by the Smithsonian. These records also document the removal of the Museum's founder, Warren Robbins, several years after the merger.

Frances Humphrey Howard kept carbon copies of her outgoing personal and professional correspondence, which are found in this series. These copies are not always filed with the relevant incoming correspondence. Howard kept general and named correspondence. Howard's general correspondence can be found under folders titled "Name file," "Correspondence," "Incoming letters," and "Outgoing letters"; all of which are arranged chronologically. Howard's named correspondence files are arranged alphabetically. This series is arranged with folders of named correspondence first, followed by general files. There is overlap between Series II and Series III.

Series III, ORGANIZATIONS AND CAMPAIGNS, 1937-2002, n.d. (#49.11-84.2), includes correspondence, reports, notes, memoranda, programs, itineraries, and other documents related to the various organizations for which Frances Humphrey Howard worked or volunteered. These institutions include the United Nations Association of Maryland, the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Library of Medicine, the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, the National Museum of African Art, and the Democratic National Party. This series includes small amount of material related to Howard's position at the Office of Civil Defense (#61.6), as well as her adjunct teaching positions at the University of Maryland, Graduate School of Social Work (#82.14), and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#82.15). This series also contains documents related to the "People to People" tours led by Howard in 1958 and 1960 (#61.14-62.3). The material from the 1958 trip includes detailed accounts by Howard, describing each leg of the trip.

This series also includes records related to Howard's position as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. This material highlights Howard's multiple trips to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Brazil, and Chile, during which she worked with multiple voluntary agencies within Latin America to combat the worldwide war on hunger. Material related to Howard's work for refugees in Vietnam can be found both in the documents related to United States Agency for International Development, as well as records from her work with the United States Committee for Refugees (#81.4-82.3).

Also found in this series is material related to Howard's position as special assistant to the Associate Director at the National Library of Medicine, including an internal investigation in 1988 into the misuse of governmental resources and annual leave at the National Library of Medicine (#57.8-58.4, 60.4); Howard was eventually cleared of all charges.

This series also documents the various political campaigns for which Howard volunteered, including those of her brother, Hubert H. Humphrey; her nephew, Hubert "Skip" Humphrey; her great-nephew Hubert "Buck" Humphrey; Bill Clinton; and Walter Mondale. Also found in this series are documentation of Howard's work for the Democratic Party. These records also contain material related to the various boards Howard served on, including the National Theatre (#61.4), the Washington Opera (#83.8-83.9), Choral Arts Society of Washington (#52.1). There is overlap between Series II and Series III. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, SPEECHES, ca.1941-2002, n.d. (#84.3-93.4), includes speeches, remarks, greetings, outlines, and notes from throughout Howard's career. Howard addressed a variety of groups, including schools and institutes, women's clubs, professional organizations, churches, community organizations, and legislators. Howard's speeches encompass a wide range of topics, including the United States Agency for International Development, the war on hunger, foreign aid, the role of women around the world, Howard's work with Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hubert H. Humphrey. Folders contain either the full text of the speech, or an outline of the talk. Many folders contain correspondence. Audio recordings of some speeches can be found in Series V.

This series also contains some material collected by Howard for speeches, but not the related text. These folders are titled "Speech material." Also found in this series are tributes and introductions of Howard by others (#88.7). This series was created by the archivist; folder titles are original. When known, speech titles are given in quotation marks. This series is arranged chronologically by speeches first, followed by speech material.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOVISUAL, ca.1950-2002, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.22, 97FB.1v, T-320.1-T-320.47, DVD-144.1-DVD-144.2, MP-82.1-MP-82.3, Vt-313.1-Vt-313.4), includes photographs, 47 audiotapes, four videotapes, two DVDs, and three motion pictures related to Frances Humphrey Howard. This series contains recordings of several oral history interviews conducted by others, during which Howard discusses her family background, her career in sociology and public service, her ex-husband and children, and her brother, Hubert H. Humphrey. Sondra B. Gair's oral history interview of Howard was used for her January 1991 article, "Grande Dem" in Dossier magazine.

This series also contains many speeches given by Howard to various organizations during her career, as well as speeches she gave while campaigning for Hubert H. Humphrey. Transcripts of the oral history interviews can be found in Series I, and the text of many of Howard's speeches can be found in Series IV. A video-recording from Howard's memorial service and the reception held afterward can be found here. This series is arranged by format, then chronologically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Frances Estella Humphrey Howard was born on February 18, 1914, to Hubert and Christine (Sannes) Humphrey in Wallace, South Dakota. The Humphrey's ran a pharmacy in Doland, South Dakota, until 1932, when they moved the business to the larger town of Huron, South Dakota. Frances Humphrey Howard graduated from Huron High School in 1934, and then attended Huron College in South Dakota, for two years.

In 1936, Frances Humphrey Howard moved to Cabin John, Maryland, to live with her aunt and uncle, Harry and Olive Humphrey while she attended George Washington University (B.A. 1937, M.A. 1941). Howard served as secretary for the George Washington University Student Council, where she met Iris Ray Howard, president of the student council and a medical student.

Frances Humphrey Howard worked for the Washington Council of Churches as assistant director of social welfare while in graduate school. In 1941, Frances Humphrey Howard was hired by Eleanor Roosevelt to work in the Office of Civilian Defense to arrange housing, recreation, and church affiliations for women coming to Washington, DC, to join the war effort.

Frances and Iris Ray (I. Ray) Howard were married on December 7, 1942; they had two children, William Ray Howard (born 1945) and Anne Louise Howard-Tristani (born 1949). The marriage ended in divorce.

After their marriage in 1942, the Howards moved frequently for I. Ray Howard's job as a surgeon for the United States Public Health Service. During that time, the Howards lived in Baltimore, Maryland; Seattle, Washington; Savannah, Georgia; Leavenworth, Kansas; and eventually moved back to Baltimore, Maryland. Before the birth of her son William, Frances Humphrey Howard continued to work for the Office of Civilian Defense in the Civilian Personnel Branch both in Savannah, Georgia, and Leavenworth, Kansas. Her responsibilities included providing support for clients requiring child care, financial assistance, psychiatric problems, foster care, and marriage counseling.

Frances Humphrey Howard briefly worked for the newly created United Nations Association of Maryland. In the early 1950s, the Howards moved to Frances Humphrey Howard's hometown of Huron, South Dakota, so that Iris Ray Howard could open a private medical practice above Humphrey's Drug Store. In 1953, Frances Humphrey Howard served as executive secretary for the United Nations Association of South Dakota.

In 1956, the Howards separated, and Frances Humphrey Howard moved back to Baltimore, Maryland, with her two children. She became Executive Director for the United Nations Association of Maryland, where she supervised programs in community education and world affairs, the speakers' bureau, hospitality programs for foreign students and visitors, and fundraising programs. In 1958, she led a "People to People" tour of business and professional women to Denmark, Finland, Russia, Germany, Austria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Belgium. Members of the group met with United Nations agency leaders, radio personalities, journalists, and political leaders.

In 1960, Howard joined the International Cooperation Administration of the United States Department of State, which was renamed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in September of 1961. As a career Foreign Service Officer, Howard served both as chief liaison officer to non-governmental organizations, and as director of the special project branch in the Office of the War on Hunger.

While with the United States Agency for International Development, Howard traveled to several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, where she helped develop projects related to economic and community development and children's social programs. Howard also traveled to the Philippines, where she co-conducted a special economic development study of women in Southeast Asia.

In 1964, Howard worked part-time on her brother Hubert H. Humphrey's vice-presidential campaign. And, in the spring of 1968, after Humphrey announced his candidacy for president, Howard resigned her foreign service position at the United States Agency for International Development to campaign full time for her brother. She traveled around the country, giving speeches on Humphrey's behalf. Howard also campaigned part-time for Humphrey when he ran for president a second time in 1972.

Frances Humphrey Howard returned to public service in 1969, serving as chief liaison officer for voluntary health programs in the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. There she helped develop strategies to promote broader health care programs, such as neighborhood health centers, in low-income neighborhoods. In 1970, Howard took a job as special assistant to the Associate Director of the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, where she acted as liaison to other federal agencies within the library's extramural division. Howard's focus included developing outreach programs, which were intended to provide access to current medical research and periodicals to under-funded medical libraries around the world. Howard served in her role as special assistant until her retirement in 1999.

Throughout her career in public service, Howard also lectured on sociology and social work at the University of Maryland's Graduate School of Social Work, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Johns Hopkins University.

Frances Humphrey Howard served on numerous boards in the Washington, DC, area, including the Capitol Children's Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the United States Committee for Refugees, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Howard also served on the advisory board for the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs (University of Minnesota). She received many awards recognizing her five decades of public service, including honorary degrees from the University of Maryland, Seton College (Greensburg, Pennsylvania), and Lane College (Jackson, Tennessee).

Howard died of congestive heart failure on September 23, 2002.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1923-2002 (#1.1-9.11, 94FB.1v-96FB.1v, E.1)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1940-2003, n.d. (#10.1-49.10, E.2)
  3. Series III. Organizations and campaigns, 1937-2002, n.d. (#49.11-84.2)
  4. Series IV. Speeches, ca.1941-2002, n.d. (#84.3-93.4)
  5. Series V. Photographs and audiovisual, ca.1950-2002, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.22, 97FB.1v, T-320.1-T-320.47, DVD-144.1-DVD-144.2, MP-82.1-MP-82.3, Vt-313.1-Vt-313.4)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 89-M117, 2003-M115, 2004-M83

The papers of Frances Humphrey Howard were given to the Schlesinger Library by Frances Humphrey Howard in 1989, and by her children, William Ray Howard and Anne L. Howard-Tristani, in September 2003 and July 2004.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Minnesota Historical Society; see Hubert H. Humphrey papers, [1883?]-1982 (bulk 1940-1978) (006951607).

Processing Information

Processed: January 2019

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Ella Lesatele and Ashley Thomas.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

General processing procedures in place at the Library include the following material not normally retained: clippings that are not by or about the collection's creator, invoices, receipts, and envelopes (when they do not contain additional information).

Howard, Frances Humphrey. Papers of Frances Humphrey Howard, 1923-2003 (inclusive), 1961-2002 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Zetlin Sisters Fund and the Jane Rainie Opel '50 Fund

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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