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Susan B. Anthony Papers, 1894-1979
2 boxes (.75 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 5

Suffragist, feminist, temperance leader, and abolitionist. Anthony began her political career with the Women's New York State Temperance Society, and became involved in women's rights, suffrage, and the abolitionist movements. The bulk of the collection consists of material by outside parties about Anthony, including biographical material; published writings by Anthony; memorabilia; correspondence; autograph collection; and photographs.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Susan B. Anthony was born 15 February 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. She was the second of seven children of Lucy Reed and Daniel Anthony. Her father was from a Quaker background and believed in the equal education of his daughters and his sons. His successful cotton manufacturing business prompted a family move to Battenville, New York in the summer of 1826. In the summer of 1835, Anthony obtained her first teaching position, and in 1839, she moved to Hardscrabble, New York, and continued to support herself through teaching. In November of 1845, she settled in Rochester, New York, which she considered home until her dying day. From 1846 to 1849 she was the headmistress of the female department at Canajoharie Academy in Rochester, New York.

Susan B. Anthony's name is synonymous with women's rights and the suffrage movement, but her activism began with participation in the Temperance and Abolitionist movements of the mid-nineteenth century. In 1848, Anthony joined the Daughters of Temperance, then founded the Woman's New York State Temperance Society in 1852. By 1856, Anthony was William Lloyd Garrison's primary representative in New York for the American Anti-slavery Society.

Susan Brownell Anthony at age 36, 1856

Susan Brownell Anthony at age 36, 1856

It is without a doubt that Susan B. Anthony was most passionate about the cause of women's rights. Securing the right to vote for women became her life's work. In 1848, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann McClintock, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martha Coffin Wright organized a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Although her father was there, Susan B. Anthony did not attend this historic event. She met Stanton in 1850, and they became lifelong friends and partners in the endeavor to guarantee women's rights. Both women maintained a very high-profile as leaders of the suffrage movement. In 1854, Anthony organized the first Women's Rights Society in New York State. In this same year, she collected signatures successfully petitioning the New York State legislature for an extension of the Married Women's Property Act, which was granted in 1860. In 1866, she collected signatures petitioning the U.S. Congress for women's suffrage.

Anthony and Stanton both maintained their commitment to the abolitionist cause as they increased their activity in women's rights organizing. In 1863, they formed the Women's National Loyal League, which demanded the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment. However, at the end of the Civil War, their opposition to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, which guaranteed black male suffrage but excluded women, caused the loss of some strong abolitionist allies. Opposition to Anthony and Stanton's controversial position, as well as to their methods of achieving the vote, caused a twenty year schism in the women's suffrage movement. The result was two separate suffrage associations, which maintained similar goals but employed very different strategies. Lucy Stone founded the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which supported the Fifteenth Amendment and continued to allow men's participation in the Association. The AWSA attempted to avoid all "irrelevant issues" that might alienate support for their cause. They focused on the suffrage question and sought the ballot on a state-by-state basis. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA). It was to be a "women only" organization and Stanton was elected the President while Anthony served as the Vice President.

Unlike the AWSA, the NWSA was not afraid to create controversy or draw attention. Its primary goal was to guarantee a woman's right to vote in the form of a national constitutional amendment. They acknowledged women's rights as encompassing other women's issues such as birth control, divorce law reform, and prostitution. They advocated for the organization of working women, criticized the subordinate role of women fostered by the church, took up a critical discussion regarding the societal double-standard, and addressed the issue of discrimination in employment and pay. NWSA publicly supported the notorious Victoria Woodhull, whose disregard for convention and eccentric behavior outraged many people. Association with such an extremist brought a fair amount of criticism to the NWSA.

NWSA also used relatively radical methods for achieving its objectives. Public protest and "overt actions" were staged by its members on a regular basis. Anthony was directly involved in many controversial actions taken by NWSA. In 1872, Anthony was arrested, convicted, and fined for illegally voting in the Presidential election. On 4 July 1876, she staged a suffrage protest at the Centennial Celebration being held in Liberty Square, Philadelphia. Anthony was constantly at the front lines in the battle for woman suffrage. She toured the country giving speeches and passionately rallying support for her cause. By 1890, the tensions that caused the division within the suffrage movement had eased, and the AWSA and the NWSA reconciled. They merged to form one organization called the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Susan B. Anthony served as president of NAWSA from 1892-1900. She continued to organize and lead the national grassroots movement. She extended her work further by contributing her knowledge and effort to the International Women's Suffrage Movement. She traveled to Berlin, Germany in 1904 to help found the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. Anthony participated in the successful campaign to open the University of Rochester to women (1900). From 1881-1902, she initiated and published the first four volumes of History of Women's Suffrage.

Susan B. Anthony died 13 March 1906 in Rochester, New York. She was eighty-six years old and had devoted over half of her lifetime to the women's suffrage movement. On 26 August, 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. This federal legislation secured women's right to vote in every state in the country, and it was referred to by some as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. In recognition of her incredible contribution to the woman suffrage movement, various states have declared 26 August or 15 February---her birthday---as Susan B. Anthony Day.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Susan B. Anthony Papers consist of .75 linear feet of material. They contain primarily miscellaneous information regarding her professional achievements and the efforts by others to memorialize her work (1894-1970). Series I contains Biographical Material and Writings. This is the most extensive series, and it includes a wide range of miscellaneous items.

There are various copies of clippings (1876-1979), which provide information about her involvement and contribution to the women's rights movement. Postcards, an original portrait painted by her nephew (1907), and some original photographs (1875-1906) (as well as numerous copies of photographs (1850-1906)) documenting Anthony from youth to old age are also included.

Also found in Series I is a good deal of material regarding the efforts by others to memorialize Anthony. Included are: clippings concerning her birthplace at Adams, Massachusetts (1927-70); and clippings, photographs, and printed matter regarding the memorial in her Rochester, New York home (1948). There are also various original commemorative postage stamps, as well as extensive correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, news releases, and photographs of the First Day Women Suffrage Stamp ceremony in Adams, Massachusetts (26 August, 1970). The stamp was issued to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. The League of Women Voters initiated this event and organized this celebration, choosing Adams, Massachusetts because it was Anthony's birthplace. This material documents the detailed process undertaken to bring such an event to fruition.

There is other material describing assorted Anthony memorials across the United States, including information regarding her entry in to the New York University Hall of Fame (1950), Smithsonian Institution (1920-41), Susan B. Anthony memorial libraries (1941-50), Susan B. Anthony Day (1939-7), the Tree Project (1938), and other miscellaneous memorial efforts (1940-71).

Documents of Edwin T. Marsh, inspector of polls, detailing his arrest for permitting Anthony to register to vote (1872), provide insight into the illegal voting scandal for which Anthony was also arrested.

Series II consists of a limited amount of assorted personal and professional correspondence. There are some typed copies of letters to family and friends (1872-1905), as well as typed copies of third party correspondence by those who knew Anthony (1894-1944). A collection of original autographs and a few handwritten letters finish this series.

This collection is organized into two series:

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

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

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

Susan B. Anthony Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The Susan Brownell Anthony Papers came to the Sophia Smith Collection by way of several donors. The bulk were given by Una R. Winter, Director of the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Committee of California, from 1947 through 1955. The following people added to the collection: S. Elizabeth Smith in 1962; Robert E. Lamb in 1971; and Dorothy Wilson in 1972 and 1978.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Burd Schlessinger, 2001.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

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