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Finding Aid for the Anna Howard Shaw Papers, 1917-1919

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Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) was a Methodist minister and an orator for women's suffrage and temperance. The Anna Howard Shaw Papers date from 1917 to 1919 and contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and speeches.

Administrative Information

Collection Number

MSS 082


0.25 linear ft., 1 box.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Anna Howard Shaw Papers (MSS 082), University Archives and Manuscripts, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Acquisitions Information

Items gathered from various sources. Some gifts of Josephine Hege (Class of 1927 and History faculty member) May 1985; some gifts of Arnette Hathaway (Class of 1919), date unknown; some items transferred from other areas of University Archives/Special Collections; some items provenance unknown

Biographical Note

Anna Howard Shaw was born February 14, 1847 at Newcastle upon Tyne, England. When she was four, her family moved to Massachusetts. In 1859 her father settled his wife and younger children in an unfinished cabin on Michigan’s frontier while he returned east. Shaw’s bitter recollections of the responsibilities that fell to her in the next decade make up the most powerful section of the memoirs she published as Story of a Pioneer (1915).

Vowing to avoid dependency, Shaw prepared herself for the ministry. Educated at Albion College and Boston University Theological School, Shaw earned a diploma in 1878, and was licensed the same year by the Methodist Episcopal church. The Methodist Protestant church ordained her in 1880. While ministering at East Dennis, Massachusetts, Shaw earned an MD from Boston University Medical School in 1886.

However, by the time Shaw acquired her credentials, she had lost interest in the professions they opened to her and instead desired to pursue her gift for oratory, lecturing for temperance and women's suffrage. Shaw chose Lucy E. Anthony, Susan B. Anthony’s niece, as her companion for life and “Aunt Susan” sponsored Shaw’s ascendancy in the National American Woman Suffrage Association as national lecturer in 1890 and vice president at large in 1892.

When the United States entered World War I, Shaw interrupted her tours for suffrage to lead the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. Congress awarded her the Distinguished Service Medal in May 1919. Shaw joined William Howard Taft and Abbott Lawrence Lowell on a national tour for the League to Enforce Peace in the late spring of 1919. At Springfield, Illinois, she collapsed with severe pneumonia and died July 2, 1919 at her home in Moylan, Pennsylvania.

Description of Collection

The Anna Howard Shaw Papers date from 1917 to 1919 and contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and speeches.

The correspondence in this collection includes several letters written by Anna Howard Shaw to students at the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG). One letter, dated Jan. 9, 1917 and addressed to Annie S. Peirson and members of the senior class, declines an invitation to speak at the college in February of that year: “Much as I appreciate the honor of having been invited to speak for you on February twenty-second, I think it is quite impossible for me to do so. The journey from southern Florida would be too long and fatiguing as well as too expensive for either your class or me for one lecture.” (Having suffered from pneumonia, Shaw is in Florida on doctor’s orders to rest and stay away from cold weather). Another letter, dated February 17, 1918, is written in appreciation of the flowers that students at the Normal sent Ms. Shaw for her birthday: “I thank you all with a very full heart not alone for the beauty and fragrance of your gift but for the quality of mind and heart which keeps alive among you all a spirit of kindly thoughtfulness and a desire to serve others."

Shaw gave the Commencement Address in 1919 when she received an Honorary Degree from this institution. Shaw Residence Hall was named for her.


Folder 1

(Gifts of Arnette Hathaway Avery)

1 autograph letter signed (ALS) written to AH Shaw from Arnette Hathaway and Mary Gordon, Feb. 14, 1918
1 ALS to Arnette Hathaway and Mary Gordon from AH Shaw, Feb. 17, 1918
1 signed photo of AH Shaw
1 souvenir photo of Susan B. Anthony with autographed card enclosed, dated June 22, ’87
1 typed note from Arnette Hathaway Avery explaining the origin of the gift

Folder 2

(Gifts of Josephine Hege, transferred from Charles B. Shaw Collection)

7 photos of Anna Howard Shaw
1 cut down portrait photo of Susan B. Anthony, inscribed
1 broadside, “The Spirit of Democracy” by Anna Howard Shaw

Folder 3

(Items gathered from various sources in University Archives and Special Collections)

1 ALS written to Annie S. Peirson and Members of the Senior Class from Anna H. Shaw, Jan. 9, 1917
1 typed letter signed (TLS) to Ruth Kernodle by AH Shaw, May 17, 1917
1 copy of typed letter to Louise B. Alexander removed from Anna Howard Shaw’s copy of Story of a Pioneer (w JK 1899 S6A3 c.5), Jan. 21, 1918
1 photocopy of a TLS written to J. I. [Foust] by AH Shaw, March 10, 1919 (original in Foust Papers)
1 photocopy of a news release re: gift of $1000 bond by Lucy Anthony (friend of the late AH Shaw) to set up scholarship for a student in the social sciences, dated Feb. 13, 1940
1 newspaper clipping, “Execrating Dr. Shaw”
3 pamphlets of speeches by AH Shaw
1 photocopy of pamphlet published by the League to Enforce Peace, "What the War Meant to Women,” by AH Shaw
1 photocopy of AH Shaw’s entry in the Suffrage Cook Book
1 photocopy of NY Times obituary of AH Shaw, July 4, 1919
1 photograph of AH Shaw at age 16 removed from Shaw’s copy of Story of a Pioneer

Folder 4

1 photograph of AH Shaw after delivering the commencement address in 1919 at North Carolina College for Women, transferred from the Gove Collection
1 photograph of AH Shaw plus 1 copy of same, source unknown

Related Materials

See more UNCG manuscript collections related to women's studies.

See Harvard University and Smith College for more Anna Howard Shaw papers.