Julia Ward Howe Papers
Scope and Contents
- 1891-1898 and undated
- Howe, Julia Ward (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.
Biographical or Historical Information
Howe was born in New York City to Samuel Ward, Jr., a stockbroker, and Julia Rush, a poet who died of tuberculosis when Julia was just five years old. Howe was educated at schools for young ladies and by tutors at home until the age of sixteen. Her father died in 1839. Julia married Samuel Gridley Howe, head of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, in 1843; the couple had six children, the last of which was born in 1859.
In South Boston Julia cared for her household and children while her husband participated in prison reform, school reform and abolitionist activities. Unhappy in her new surroundings and prohibited by her husband from participating in public reform work, she attended lectures, privately studied foreign languages, religion, and philosophy, and wrote poetry and drama. Her husband's resistance to her growing public life and reputation led to difficulties in their marriage, and Julia contemplated divorce more than once during the 1850s.
By far Howe's most famous work, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, was published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. She wrote the poem in 1861 while in Washington, DC with her husband, who was helping distribute supplies to Massachusetts regiments. Set to the music of "John Brown's Body," her poem became the rallying song for the North during the final year of the Civil War.
By 1868, when Howe's husband no longer opposed her involvement in public life, she seized the opportunity to become active in reform after years of relative isolation. Founder and president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association, she became co-leader, with Lucy Stone, of the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. In January 1876, when her husband died, Howe's public involvement expanded rapidly. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s (and until her death in 1910 at the age of ninety-one), she founded and presided over numerous organizations dedicated to improving opportunities for women in education, politics, and the professions. She also went on speaking tours not only in the United States, but in Europe and the Middle East as well.
0.01 Linear Feet (1 folder)
Language of Materials
Method of Acquisition
Offensive Language Statement
Our finding aids and other collection descriptions may occasionally re-use language provided by creators or former holders of the materials, but we strive to place outdated or offensive terminology in context. That said, we recognize that we may not always make the right decision and welcome feedback from all sources so we can learn and adjust our practices. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you encounter problematic language in our finding aids or other collection description. We will review the language and, as appropriate, update it in a way that balances preservation of the original context with our ongoing commitment to describing materials with respectful and inclusive language.
- Julia Ward Howe Papers
- Archives staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note