Five College Archives and Manuscript
                        Collections
Home >> Sophia Smith Collection >> Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1880-1958
Smith College seal
Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1880-1958
4 boxes (1.75 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 31

Abstract:
Suffragist, president, National American Women Suffrage Association, and pacifist. Papers relate primarily to Catt's public life, primarily her work as president of both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. There is a significant amount of material pertaining to her peace activities. There is also a rich collection of photographs, including many of the Women's Land Army, created in Great Britain during World War II to aid in the war effort.

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The copyright owner of this collection is unknown, though it is likely that the unpublished writings of Carrie Chapman Catt are in public domain. The Library of Congress, which holds the bulk of the Catt Papers states that "copyright in the unpublished writings of Carrie Chapman Catt in these and in other collections of papers in the custody of the Library of Congress has been dedicated to the public." Copyright to works by others in this collection may be owned by their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
"One of longshore girls driving an auto truck."
            Photo by Underwood and Underwood, 1917

"One of longshore girls driving an auto truck."
Photo by Underwood and Underwood, 1917

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt was born on January 9, 1859 in Ripon, Wisconsin, the second of three children of Lucius Lane and Maria Clinton. When Carrie was seven years old the family moved to Charles City, Iowa, where she spent the rest of her childhood. She taught at a country school until she saved enough money to pay for college, and entered Iowa State College in 1877. In 1880, following her graduation, she studied law before becoming principal of the high school in Mason City, Iowa. She later became the first female superintendent of the district.

In 1885, Catt married Leo Chapman, editor-owner of the Mason City Republican, which she helped him manage. Following his death in 1886, she was employed in the newspaper business in San Francisco, where she became increasingly aware of the inequalities facing women in the business and industrial arenas. Leaving San Francisco less than a year later, she returned to Iowa where she began lecturing on the status of women in the United States. Catt was convinced that women's inequality was based on their lack of political power, and she focused her efforts on women's suffrage. She joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association and was elected State Organizer in 1887. In 1890 she was invited to address the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in Washington, D.C., where she met important suffrage activists, among them Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Julia Ward Howe. Following the convention, she married George W. Catt, a successful hydraulic engineer. When Susan B. Anthony retired as president of NAWSA in 1900, she named Catt her successor. Catt used her position to forge new alliances with women across the world, calling an international suffrage conference in 1902. The conference was attended by representatives from nine countries and led to the founding of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. By the time Catt retired as president of NAWSA twenty-one years later, forty countries had branches of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and twenty of these had enfranchised women fully.

After 1904, when she was forced to step down from the NAWSA presidency because of her husband's poor health, Catt turned her attention to achieving suffrage in New York State, which she felt was critical to passage of a federal suffrage amendment. Due largely to her efforts, which included consolidating disparate city groups into the Woman Suffrage Party (1910), and organizing and chairing the Empire State Campaign (1913-14), in 1917 the New York State Legislature finally passed a referendum granting women the right to vote.

From this point, the struggle for national women's suffrage became more intense and Catt was an increasingly charismatic symbol of the movement. During World War One she was asked to take on the presidency of NAWSA once again, in part to facilitate keeping the idea of women's suffrage in the forefront of American politics. As a member of the Woman's Division of the Council for National Defense, she was able to push Congress to submit the Nineteenth Amendment in June of 1919, and on August 26, 1920, the federal amendment granting women's suffrage was signed into law. After suffrage was won, Catt founded the National League of Women Voters to help newly-enfranchised women navigate the election process.

Throughout the rest of her life, Catt worked tirelessly for pacifism, disarmament, and the peaceful settlement of international disputes, most notably by attempting to create a common international program of peace. In 1925, she invited international women's organizations to work together to form a disarmament program at the First Conference on the Cause and Cure of War in Washington, D.C. At this conference, a permanent Committee on the Cause and Cure of War was formed, comprised of the chief officers of the member organizations. Catt served as chairman until 1933, when she retired. The committee specialized in "marathon round tables" for the study of international conflicts.

In addition to being a prolific writer of editorials, speeches and pamphlets on the women's movement, she collaborated with Nettie Rogers Shuler in writing Woman Suffrage and Politics (1923) and on her own wrote a book, Why Wars Must Cease (1935).

Catt was given honorary doctorates from the University of Wyoming, Iowa State College, Smith College, and Moravian College for Women. In 1936, during her fiftieth anniversary celebration as a suffragist and pacifist, she was escorted to the White House by the presidents of several national women's organizations where President and Mrs. Roosevelt received her.

In 1940, Catt organized the last event of her career, the Woman's Centennial Conference in New York, which celebrated the first one hundred years of the feminist movement in the United States. Carrie Chapman Catt died at home in New Rochelle, New York on March 9, 1947 at age 88.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Carrie Chapman Catt Papers date from 1880 to 1958 and consist of 1.75 linear feet of material relating primarily to her public life. Types of material include correspondence, speeches, pamphlets, photographs, reports, journal and newspaper articles, and political cartoons. The bulk of the papers surround Catt's work as president of both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. There is also a significant amount of material pertaining to her peace activities, including the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. Major topics include federal- and state-level suffrage for women, the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and building an international network promoting women's equality. The collection is compelling as a record of the lengthy struggle for women's suffrage in the United States, and the powerful network of women's organizations that sprang out of that struggle. Catt published many short pamphlets describing her vision of feminism and women's suffrage that may be of particular interest to scholars. The papers also contain a rich collection of photographs, including many of the Women's Land Army, created in Great Britain during World War II to aid in the war effort. Most women lived at home and were transported each day to farms, where they hoed, weeded, thinned, and harvested crops of all kinds; many supervised youth platoons, especially teachers out of school for the summer. A few worked year round, especially on poultry and dairy farms, while others worked in canneries or were leaders for recruiting other women.


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, though it is likely that the unpublished writings of Carrie Chapman Catt are in public domain. The Library of Congress, which holds the bulk of the Catt Papers states that "copyright in the unpublished writings of Carrie Chapman Catt in these and in other collections of papers in the custody of the Library of Congress has been dedicated to the public." Copyright to works by others in this collection may be owned by their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

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

Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The majority of the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers were donated in 1947 by her friend and biographer, Mary Grey Peck. Additional donations were later received from Ruhe V. Linn, Catt's niece, in 1969; Louisa K. Fast, in 1963; and the American Jewish Historical Society, in 1977.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Burd Schlessinger, 2002.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

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

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
(1880-1958)
.75 linear feet

This series includes several biographical sketches as well as clippings about Catt's political activities, including women's suffrage and pacifism; her obituaries; information regarding the Carrie Chapman Catt memorial fund; and personal photographs.

(1892-1947)
.5 linear feet

Correspondence comprises roughly a quarter of the collection. Of particular interest to scholars may be Catt's involvement in political machinations surrounding the naming of a new police chief in Washington, D.C in 1919. In addition, there is correspondence with state senators and representatives regarding support for a federal amendment granting women's suffrage; with President Woodrow Wilson; with colleagues within the National American Woman Suffrage Association; and regarding her peace activism. This series offers insight into the skilled political organization that was required, and achieved in large measure by Catt, in order for the women's suffrage movement to be successful.

(1902-44)
.5 linear feet

Catt's writings are extensive and include pamphlets, articles, brochures and speeches written on behalf of the National American Woman Suffrage Movement, the National League of Women Voters, the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship, and the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. Also included are speeches promoting the adoption of a federal women's suffrage amendment; memoranda regarding charges that Catt had "communist sympathies"; and the Carrie Chapman Catt Citizenship Course, a year-long segment appearing in The Woman Citizen, designed to educate women voters.

(1914-34)
.5 linear feet

These files are comprised of a collection of photographs documenting the Women's Land Army, a collection of suffrage cartoons, and miscellaneous writings and reports on subjects and activities pertaining to women's suffrage. The photographs are arranged in two folders with copies appearing first and originals in the second folder. Similarly, the cartoons are arranged in five folders; dated copies appear first, followed by dated originals. Undated copies are arranged in alphabetical order by title or by first word of text. Writings include the Report of the Eighth Conference for the International Woman Suffrage Alliance; miscellaneous writings on women's suffrage, including an article appearing in The Woman Citizen; and a program of the Women's Centennial Congress.

Contents List
SERIES I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
(1880-1958)


Biographical sketch: articles and clippings,
n.d.

Box 1: folder 1
Obituaries,
1947

Box 1: folder 2
Clippings



"King business,"
1918

Box 1: folder 3
Peace activism,
1918-45, n.d.

Box 1: folder 4
1915-34, n.d.

Box 1: folder 5
Memorials,
1941-58, n.d.

Box 1: folder 6
Memorial Fund,
1948-58, n.d.

Box 1: folder 7
Personal photographs



Photocopies and duplicates,
1890-1938, n.d.

Box 1: folder 8
Originals,
1880-1938, n.d.

Box 1: folder 9
Book: Carrie Chapman Catt by Mary Grey Peck,
1944

Box 1: folder 10
Miscellaneous


Box 1: folder 11
Bookplate,
n.d.

Box 1
Menu,
1934

Box 1
Clippings and poster,

[see also Oversize materials]

1923, 1939, n.d.

Box 1
SERIES II. CORRESPONDENCE
(1892-1947)


Outgoing



A-Z,
1892-1947

Box 2: folder 1
Brown, Gertrude F.,
1916-46, n.d.

Box 2: folder 2
Fast, Louise K.,
1934-43

Box 2: folder 3
National American Woman Suffrage Association,
1920-47

Box 2: folder 4
Park, Maud Wood,
1918-44

Box 2: folder 5
Wilson, Woodrow and Cabinet members,
1919-20

Box 2: folder 6
Shuler, Marjorie,
1918-20

Box 2: folder 7
U.S. Delegates to U.N. Conference,
1945

Box 2: folder 8
U.S. Senators and Representatives,
1918-20

Box 2: folder 9
Incoming



A-Z,
1918-47, n.d.

Box 2: folder 10
Park, Maud Wood,
1918

Box 2: folder 11
Reilly, Caroline,
1919

Box 2: folder 12
Shuler, Marjorie,
1918-19, n.d.

Box 2: folder 13
White, Ruth,
1918, n.d.

Box 2: folder 14
Wilson, Woodrow,
1917-20

Box 2: folder 15
U.S. Senators and Representatives,
1918-19

Box 2: folder 16
Willard, Mabel,
1918-19, n.d.

Box 2: folder 17
Telegrams to and from Catt,
1918-20

Box 2: folder 18
Miscellaneous,
1918-41

Box 2: folder 19
SERIES III. WRITINGS
(1902-44)


Book: Woman Suffrage and Politics, by Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler,

[See Box 1]

1926

Box 2
Pamphlets and articles: NAWSA and others,
1908-43, n.d.

Box 3: folder 1-2
Speeches



General,
1921-44, n.d.

Box 3: folder 3-4
"The Cause and Cure of War,"
1921-39, n.d.

Box 3: folder 5-6
Federal Amendment for Women's Suffrage,
1904-19, n.d.

Box 3: folder 7
League of Women Voters,
1920-30

Box 3: folder 8
NAWSA,
1902-19

Box 3: folder 9
International Woman Suffrage Alliance,
1908-23

Box 3: folder 10
Confidential memos re: charges of communist sympathies,
1924

Box 3: folder 11
Carrie Chapman Catt Citizenship Course, The Woman Citizen,
3 Apr 1920-23 Apr 1921

Box 3: folder 12-19
SERIES IV. SUBJECT FILES
(1914-34)


Suffrage



Cartoons



Photocopies



1914-1920

Box 4: folder 1
Undated, A-Z


Box 4: folder 2
Originals

Please use photocopies.




1914-1920

Box 4: folder 3
Undated A-Z, untitled


Box 4: folder 4-5
International Woman Suffrage Alliance: Report of Eighth Congress,
1920

Box 4: folder 6
Miscellaneous notes,
1917-18, n.d.

Box 4: folder 7
Women's Land Army: photographs



Photocopies,
1917-18, n.d.

Box 4: folder 8
Originals,

[Please use photocopies]

1917-18, n.d.

Box 4: folder 9-9a
Women's Centennial Congress: program, mission, and clippings,
1940

Box 4: folder 10
OVERSIZE MATERIALS



Poster: Omaha League of Women Voters,
4 Dec 1923

Flat File
Clipping: New York Herald Tribune,
15 Jan 1929

Flat File
Article: New York Times Magazine,
7 Jun 1934

Flat File

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.

Subjects
  • Women--Suffrage--History--Sources
  • Women--Suffrage--New York (State)--Sources
  • Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906
  • Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
  • International Woman Suffrage Alliance
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association--History--Sources
  • National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War (U.S.)
  • Peace movements--History--20th century--Sources
  • Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence
  • Women and peace--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women's rights--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women's Land Army (Great Britain)--Photographs


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
Home | Help | About | Search