This collection contains the papers of American suffragist, reformer, and social activist
Caroline Severance (1820-1914) including 631 manuscripts; 10,634 pieces of correspondence; and 9,007 pieces of ephemera.
The manuscripts, correspondence, and ephemera cover the following subjects:
African American women suffrage and clubs, Susan B. Anthony, Jessie Benton Frémont,
Isabella Beecher Hooker, Julia Ward Howe, child labor reform, Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Friedrich Fröbel and the Kindergarten movement, Charles Fletcher Lummis and the
Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, Helen Modjeska, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone,
dress reform, suffrage, temperance, Unitarianism, women's rights, women's clubs, and
the history, politics and social life of 19th and 20th century Los Angeles,
Caroline Maria Seymour Severance, suffragist, reformer, and social activist, was born
in Canandaigua, New York, in January 1820. She graduated from the Female Seminary of
Geneva, New York, in 1835, and in 1840, she married Theodoric Severance; they had
five children, Orson Seymour (born and died in 1841), James Seymour (1842-1936),
Julia Long Burrage (born in 1844), Mark Sibley (1846-1931), and Pierre Clarke
(1849-1890). The Severances spent their first fifteen years together in Cleveland,
Ohio, but moved to Boston in 1855 when Theodoric accepted a position with the North
Bank of Boston. At the outbreak of the Civil War the Severances moved to Port Royal,
South Carolina, where Theodoric was Collector of Customs. Caroline Severance, who
was actively involved in the abolitionist movement before and during the war, became
involved in several reform movements and was a member of the boards of the Sanitary
Commission, the Freedom Bureau, and the New England Hospital for Women and Children.
She also became a supporter of the suffrage movement and in 1866 helped organize the
Equal Rights Association with Susan B. Anthony. In 1868, Caroline Severance founded
the New England Women's Club, the first women's club in the United States; although
this fact would later be disputed, she is always referred to as the "Mother of
Clubs." She also helped found the American Woman Suffrage Association with Lucy
Stone in 1869.
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