March 18, 2019 Archival Materials of Suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt Now Online

Collection Includes Diaries, Letters and Speeches Relating to Fight for Voting Rights; Crowdsourcing Campaign Underway for Mary Church Terrell and Clara Barton Papers

Press Contact: Brett Zongker (202) 707-1639
Website: Carrie Chapman Catt Papers

Carrie Chapman Catt is pictured circa 1908 as president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. Credit: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

The papers of suffragist and political strategist Carrie Chapman Catt, including her time as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, have been digitized and are now available online for the first time from the Library of Congress.

The collection includes about 9,500 items dating primarily from 1890 to 1920 as Catt helped lead the fight for a federal suffrage amendment. The Catt Papers are online at: loc.gov/collections/carrie-chapman-catt-papers/about-this-collection/.

Catt is perhaps best known for her second stint as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association beginning in 1915. She soon unveiled a two-pronged strategy to coordinate both state-by-state advocacy to win voting rights for women along with an aggressive lobbying effort in Washington for a federal suffrage amendment. Catt also helped found the International Woman Suffrage Association.

Catt and Alice Paul, who was president of the National Woman’s Party at the time, received much credit for securing passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment. 

This year, the Library will explore the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage in a new exhibition, “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote,” opening June 4. The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collections of personal papers and organizational records of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Catt, Mary Church Terrell, Lucy Stone, Harriot Stanton Blatch, the Blackwell and Breckinridge families, the National Woman’s Party, the National American Woman Suffrage Association and others.

“Shall Not Be Denied” is part of the national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, marking major milestones in 2019 and 2020. The exhibition is also part of a yearlong initiative inviting visitors to Explore America’s Changemakers.

Highlights of the Catt papers include:

  • A ratification notebook with Catt’s handwritten notes tracking ratification of the 19th Amendment in each state, recording the strategy and results;
  • A 1918 speech arguing for women’s voting rights based on women’s contributions to the nation during World War I;
  • A 1916 letter outlining plans to travel the country to push for a federal suffrage amendment, including demonstrations at the Republican and Democratic conventions;
  • Diary entries recording visits with women’s groups in various countries during Catt’s world tour for the suffrage cause from 1911 to 1912; and
  • Correspondence and speeches documenting her founding of the National League of Women Voters and her lifelong work on behalf of pacifism and disarmament, including the creation of the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War.

Also during Women’s History Month, the Library is running a crowdsourcing campaign online, enlisting the public to help transcribe the papers of Mary Church Terrell, a suffragist and advocate for African Americans and women, as well as the papers of Clara Barton, an advocate for women’s suffrage and founder of the American Red Cross, to make them more searchable and accessible online. More information on the Library’s crowdsourcing initiative, “By the People,” can be found at crowd.loc.gov.

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PR 19-030
2019-03-18
ISSN 0731-3527