Charlotte Nichols Montgomery Papers
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: