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Blake Family Papers, 1872-1958, n.d.
1 box (.25 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 18

Abstract:
The Blake Family Papers contain material relating to Lillie Devereaux Blake and her daughter Katherine Devereaux Blake. Lillie Blake was a suffragist, writer, and women's rights advocate. Katherine Blake was a pacifist, suffragist, ERA activist, teacher, and a leader in the National Education Association. Materials include biographical and printed material, writings, and a scrapbook. The collection also contains correspondence with Mathilda Joslyn Gage, Isabel Howland, John Dewey, Anita Pollitzer, and James Shotwell.

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
First page of "The Fables of Lillie Devereux Blake," 1879

First page of "The Fables
of Lillie Devereux Blake," 1879

Lillie Devereux Blake (1833-1913) was a suffragist, a noted fiction writer, journalist, essayist, lecturer, and women's rights advocate. The daughter of planter George Pollock Devereux and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson, she was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. When her father died in 1837, her mother decided to leave his plantation in Roanoke, Virginia and return with her daughters to her relatives in New Haven, Connecticut. Lillie attended Miss Apthorp's School for Girls in New Haven until age fifteen, after which she studied with a private tutor in the Yale undergraduate curriculum. She married Frank Umsted, a lawyer from Philadelphia, in 1855. The birth of their first daughter, Elizabeth, in 1857 coincided with the publication of her first story in Harper's Weekly. The years 1858-59 were marked by the birth of her second daughter, Katherine, the publication of her first novel, Southwald, and the alleged suicide of her husband. She resisted remarriage. Instead, to support her family she wrote, using pseudonyms, for mass market magazines and was a Washington-based Civil War correspondent for one magazine and two papers. In 1866, she married Grinfill Blake, an employee at a manufacturing firm in New York. She continued to support herself by writing. Among her works are a collection of short stories, a collection of essays, hundreds of uncollected short stories and essays, and five novels.

Blake strongly supported equality of education for men and women. In 1876, along with Matilda Joslyn Gage and others, she signed the Centennial Women's Rights Declaration. She was a main contributor to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Woman's Bible (originally published in 1892 and 1895). After 1869 she began touring the United States, speaking on women's rights. Her accomplishments as a woman's rights activist included being the president of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (1879-1890) and the Civic and Political Equality Union of New York City (1898-1900), and founder of the National Legislative League (circa 1903). She led successful campaigns to establish pensions for Civil War nurses, open civil service positions to women, give women joint custody of their children, enable women to serve on school boards, and to work in public institutions where women were incarcerated. She was active in the National Woman Suffrage Association (after 1890, the National American Women Suffrage Association [NAWSA]). She failed in an attempt to succeed Anthony as president of NAWSA in 1900, losing to Carrie Chapman Catt, and thereupon withdrew to form her own National Legislative League. Ill health forced her retirement from public activity after 1905, and she died in Englewood, New Jersey on December 30, 1913.

Lillie Devereux Blake's daughter, Katherine Devereux Blake (1858-1950) was a pacifist, suffragist, ERA activist, teacher, and a leader in National Education Association. She was an advocate for progressive women's education. She was also the New York Chair of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She graduated from what later became Hunter College in 1876 and thereafter began her career as a New York City public school teacher. In 1894 she was appointed principal of the "Girls Department" of Public School 6 (renamed the Lillie Devereux Blake School in 1916). In 1911 she became the principal of the school, a position she held until her retirement in 1927. She served on a number of committees that promoted teacher benefits, night school for women, the election of women to the New York Board of Education (she was the first woman treasurer), and to the presidency of the National Education Association. She was one of nineteen teachers chosen to accompany Dr. John Dewey on his official visit to Russia in 1928. Blake devoted her summers during 1911-1919 to campaigning for woman suffrage in California, New York, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In New York, she was the head of nearly 15,000 teachers working for woman suffrage. Blake was also an active and outspoken advocate for peace and she was a member of the Ford Peace Expedition in 1915-16. She served on the national board of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and its international executive board, and was an active member for many years. She co-authored Champion of Women: The Life of Lillie Devereux Blake (1943), a memoir based on her mother's papers, with Margaret Louise Wallace. Blake died on February 2, 1950 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This small collection of the Blake Family Papers dates from 1872 to 1958 and consists of material relating to Lillie Devereux Blake and her daughter, Katherine Devereux Blake. The papers of Lillie Devereux Blake include a detailed list of the principal events of her life, correspondence, printed material by and about her, writings (speeches, articles, clippings), and a scrapbook. Correspondence includes incoming letters from Matilda Joslyn Gage (circa 1880s) and outgoing letters to Isabel Howland (1892-98). Her writings include public statements regarding the National Legislative League, articles on woman's position and suffrage, and appeals to legislation for the approval of women's suffrage. A scrapbook kept by Lillie Devereux Blake between 1872-75 contains newspaper clippings of articles on woman's position, in addition to miscellaneous and unrelated topics. The papers of Katherine Devereux Blake include a small number of speeches, clippings, autobiographical and historical notes, and correspondence. Notable correspondents include John Dewey, Anita Pollitzer, and James Shotwell.


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:

Blake Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The Blake Family papers were given to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1954 by Elizabeth D. Marriot, the granddaughter of Lillie Devereux Blake.

Processing Information

Finding aid revised in 2002 by Christine Jedziniak, intern.


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

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

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Lillie Devereux Blake
(1833-1913)


Lists of principal events in her life,
n.d.

Box 1: folder 1
Printed material by and about her,
1879-1906, n.d.

Box 1: folder 2
Note:
Correspondence



Curtiss, Julia E.,
1888

Box 1: folder 3
Gage, Matilda Joslyn,
1898, n.d.

Box 1
Hill, Mrs. Homer M.,
1899

Box 1
From Lillie to Isabel Howland,
1892-98

Box 1: folder 4
National Legislative League: public statements,
circa 1903, n.d.

Box 1: folder 5
"Articles about Woman's Position and Interesting Items": scrapbook of newspaper clippings,
1872-75, n.d.

Box 1: folder 6
Katherine Devereux Blake



Speeches, clippings, and biographical and historical notes,
1915-58, n.d.

Box 1: folder 7
Correspondence



Babcock, Caroline Lexow,
1939

Box 1: folder 8
Dewey, John,
1943

Box 1
Pollitzer, Anita,
1943

Box 1
Shotwell, James T.,
1940

Box 1
From Katherine to:



Emanuel Celler,
1944

Box 1
Mrs. Wiley,
1944

Box 1
Biographical article on Lillie Devereux Blake in Women's Illustrated World Supplement,
circa 1882

Flat File
Note:

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
  • Blake family
  • Blake, Katherine Devereux, 1858-1950
  • Blake, Lillie Devereux, 1833-1913
  • Family--United States--History--Sources
  • Howland, Isabel, 1859-1942--Correspondence
  • National Education Association of the United States--History
  • National Woman's Party--History
  • Peace movements--History--20th century--Sources
  • Suffragists--United States
  • Woman Suffrage League (New York, N.Y.)
  • Women and peace--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women--Education--United States-- History--20th century-- Sources
  • Women--Suffrage--United States--History--Sources


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