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Charlotte Nichols Montgomery Papers, 1912-1986 (Bulk: 1954-1974)
109 ( 55.375 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0852 (LD 7098.5)

Montgomery, Charlotte Nichols, 1904-1994; journalist, columnist, author, consumer advocate. Papers date from 1912-1986 and consist of writings, speeches, correspondence, journals, diaries, research materials, publicity and press clippings, photographs, awards, scrapbooks, biographical materials, and ephemera which primarily document her professional life as a pioneering consumer advocate and columnist best known for the column "Speaker for the House" in Good Housekeeping magazine from 1955-1982.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:


Restrictions on use:

Use of the collection is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.).

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Charlotte Nichols Montgomery, journalist, columnist and consumer advocate, was born on March 31,1904, in Brooklyn, N.Y. to attorney Roswell Shepherd Nichols and Margaret Pellet Nichols. Raised in Westfield N.J., she graduated from the Hartridge School in nearby Plainfield in 1923 and matriculated to Vassar College where she concentrated on English, history and economics. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Montgomery received an A.B. in economics in 1927. Upon return from a student conference in Geneva and travels in Europe, Montgomery went to work as an advertising copywriter for the firm Lyddon, Hanford and Kimball of New York City, until being laid off in 1929. She was introduced to Harry M. Montgomery, an advertising executive, in 1926. After a two-year courtship, they were married in 1928 and had two children. She began working as a freelance advertising copywriter in 1931. From 1933-1935, Montgomery wrote society news for the Westfield Leader and from 1935-1937 she wrote short stories and topical essays that she submitted for publication with limited success. By 1938,Parents magazine and others periodicals had started publishing her articles which related primarily to the domestic life of a young family. During this period Montgomery also wrote two romance novels, both published in 1942, Summer Job and Keep Love Flying. When her husband enlisted in the Army in 1943 and went overseas, first to England and France, then to his final posting in Heilbronn, Germany, where he served as a Civil Administrator, Montgomery worked as an advertising executive in his stead for Ferry Hanly, a New York City advertising firm on Fifth Avenue. Montgomery's career as a columnist and consumer advocate was launched when she approached the advertising trade journal, Tide, with a proposal for the column that became "From the Woman's Viewpoint." From 1948 on, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor. By 1951 she was simultaneously writing columns for Redbook and Good Housekeeping and was a regular contributor to Fine Cars, the National Observer, Today's Woman, and other periodicals. The first woman to write a column about automobiles, the Good Housekeeping automotive column "Woman and Her Car" (1950-1956) became her third book, Handbook for Women Drivers (1960). In 1955 Montgomery began writing the column "Strictly as a Customer" for Good Housekeeping. The column was renamed in in 1957 to "Speaker for the House," a column that ran until her retirement in 1982. It was in this column for consumers that topics such as automobile safety, (child safety was a particular concern), services for the handicapped, fraudulent packaging, insurance, mail scams, and the Equal Rights amendment were addressed and advice for consumers dispensed. She was also a consultant to Bristol-Myers, Campbell Soup Co., Citgo, General Foods, Ford Motor Co., Proctor and Gamble, and RMDavis Productions, among others. Additionally, she gave many speeches to business and women's groups over the years and participated in professional, national and local organizations. She won numerous awards and commendations during her fifty-five year career as a journalist and pioneering consumer advocate. In 1982 Montgomery suffered a severe stroke but continued her life in Westfield until 1994, when she moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where she died at age ninety on November 10 of that year.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Charlotte Nichols Montgomery (1904-1994) span the years 1912-1986 with the bulk dating from 1954-1974. The collection documents Montgomery's career as an award-winning columnist and pioneering consumer advocate and is organized in the following series: Writings, Speeches, Research Materials, Consultant Work, Correspondence, Journals and Diaries, Civic Activity, Awards, Biographical Material, Professional Contacts, and Photographs.

The Writings (1912-1981) consist primarily of articles, tear sheets, drafts, proofs, research material and correspondence relating to her Good Housekeeping column "Speaker of the House" (1955-1982), originally titled "Strictly as a Customer." Most folders contain a copy of the column with handwritten edits, carbon copy drafts of each segment of the "Speaker for the House" columns, and the first proofs with further edits. Good Housekeeping materials also include the columns "Woman and Her Car" (1950-1956) and "The Better Way"(1957-1958), the columns "Young Folks at Home" (Redbook(1953), "From a Woman's Viewpoint" (Tide, 1948-1956) and "Over at the Montgomery's"(1955-1956) co-written with husband Harry M. Montgomery, articles written for the Ford Motor Co. publication Fine Cars, pamphlets, and articles Montgomery authored for over fifty periodicals. Industry journals and newsletters are also located in this series. The series includes copies of two romance novels: Summer Job (1942) and Keep Love Flying (1942) as well as a manuscript and copies of the non-fiction book Handbook for the Woman Driver (1960). Montgomery's early writings are represented with handwritten notebooks, advertising copy, newspaper articles, carbon copies of three dozen short stories, essays, and handwritten notes for new books. In addition are articles written under the pseudonyms "Shodie Nichols" and "Evelyn Bannen". Some of the articles are bound in the original magazines or pamphlets, others are tear sheets, drafts and proofs or displayed in scrapbooks.

The Research Materials (1950-1982) series is comprised of Montgomery's research for her writings and speeches and includes books, newspapers, notes, pamphlets, correspondence, clippings and photos. The materials cover a wide range of interests including but not limited to automobiles, safety, aging, insurance, fraudulent schemes, food, clothing, appliances, detergents and many additional topics.

The Speeches (1949-1981) include carbon copies, drafts, notes, photos, and programmes for the speeches and talks given by Montgomery. Her speeches addressed, and sometimes introduced, the issues that concerned women consumers to a wide variety of organizations ranging from advertising agencies to marketing companies to USO volunteers.

The Consultant Work (1954-circa 1972) series includes correspondence, notes, advertising campaign material, a book, pamphlets, clippings, recipes, scripts and photos documenting Montgomery's work as a consultant for Campbell Soup, Citgo, RMDavis Production, Bristol-Myers, Ford Motor Co., and General Foods.

The Correspondence (1943-1986) series is composed of business, reader, and personal correspondence. Business correspondence consists of letters from manufacturers or professional acquaintances, press releases, invitations, and memos from her editors John Mack Carter, Herbert R. Mayes and other co-workers. Reader correspondence consists of hundreds of letters and postcards written to Montgomery with compliments, complaints about merchandise and services, requests for Good Housekeeping pamphlets or suggestions for her column. Carbon copies of Montgomery's responses to each letter writer are interfiled with the business and reader letters. Personal correspondence contains family and courtship correspondence from 1926-1930 but the bulk of this material consists of letters written during World War II between Montgomery and her husband and their children Sarah Montgomery and Harry Montgomery, Jr. Also included are letters from friends and relatives and ephemera that date from Harry Montgomery's wartime duty in Europe. Letters from other long-term correspondents such as Zdenka Pitrova, a Czechoslovakian fan who became a friend, are included.

Journals and Diaries (1934-1984) are handwritten accounts of professional transactions. The Journals (1950-1982) record speaking engagements, business lunches and dinners, business letters sent and received and phone calls made and received. The Diaries (1934-1984) and detail personal and professional activities including a record of professional transactions prior to 1950.

The Civic Activity (1933-1980) series of correspondence, pamphlets, notes, clippings, and memorabilia documents Montgomery's engagement in professional, national and local organizations.

The Awards (1953-1984) consist of the national press awards, industry recognitions, and regional, academic, and comic certificates presented to Montgomery.

Biographical materials (1912-1927, 1961-1979) include Montgomery's passport, high school and college yearbooks, college memorabilia, books, alumnae notes, and ephemera.

The Professional Contacts (circa 1928-1983) series includes organizational membership lists, organizational directories and hundreds of file cards with the names, addresses and phone numbers of business contacts.

Photographs (circa 1928-1981) include formal group portraits of the Vassar College Class of 1927, black and white formal and informal portraits and proofs, negatives, book cover and publicity stills of Montgomery, as well as black and white and color photographs and snapshots of Montgomery speaking at events and with sponsors and event attendees.

This collection is organized into ten series:

  • Writings (1914-1982)
  • Speeches (1949-1980)
  • Research Material (1950-1982)
  • Consultant Work (1954-circa 1972)
  • Correspondence (1919, 1926-1930, 1943-1986)
  • Journals and Diaries (1934-1984)
  • Civic Activity (1933-1980)
  • Awards (1954-1984)
  • Biographical Materials (1912-1994)
  • Professional Contacts (circa 1928-1983)
  • Photographs (circa 1928-1981)

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:


Restrictions on use:

Use of the collection is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.).

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Charlotte Nichols Montgomery Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke.College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA

History of the Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Joyce Clifford, assisted by Kathryn Patrick and Aidan DuMont-McCaffrey. Surveyed by Oyinade Ogunbekun.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

Email Reference Form:

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Advice columnists--United States.
  • Automobile driving--United States.
  • Automobile industry and trade--United States.
  • Automobiles--Design and construction.
  • Automobiles--Safety measures.
  • Carter, John Mack.
  • Child rearing--United States.
  • Clayton, Jan.
  • Consumer education--United States.
  • Mayes, Herbert R. (Herbert Raymond), 1900-1987.
  • Montgomery, Charlotte Nichols, 1904-1994.
  • Montgomery, Harry M., 1898-1975
  • Montgomery, Jr., Harry M., 1932-
  • Montgomery, Sarah, 1930-
  • Newspapers--Sections, columns, etc.
  • Pitrova, Zdenka.
  • Soldiers--United States.
  • Vassar College--Alumni and alumnae.
  • Women authors, American--20th century.
  • Women consultants--United States.
  • Women consumers--United States.
  • Women journalists--United States.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.

Genre terms
  • Diaries.
  • Letters.
  • Magazines (Periodicals).
  • Photographs.
  • Press releases.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Speeches.

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