Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
May Wright Sewall Scrapbooks

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Scrapbooks,
Creator: Sewall, May Wright, 1844-1920.
Inclusive dates: 1877-1907
Extent: 4 cubic feet (10 volumes in 7 flat boxes)
The collection documents the international women's rights organizations, including the National Council of Women and International Council of Women, both of which Wright served as president, and Wright's career as a writer, lecturer, reformer, pacifist, and feminist.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English, Greek, French, German, Italianand Danish
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:


Access Restrictions:

May Wright Sewall Scrapbooks are open for research.



Preferred Citation:

May Wright Sewall Scrapbooks, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is chronological.



Mrs. May Wright Sewall (1844-1920) of Indianapolis, Indiana, was an educator, founding the Girls’ Classical School of Indiana in 1882 with her husband, writer, lecturer, reformer, pacifist, and feminist. She was President of the National Council of Women (NCW) of the United States, 1897-1899, President of the International Council of Women (ICW), 1899-1904, chair of the Committee for Peace and Arbitration, 1904, a Commissioner to the Paris Exposition, 1900, and Chair of the Executive Committee of Women’s Suffrage Association, 1882-1890. An ardent suffragist, May co-founded the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society in 1878. She traveled extensively to most European countries in the course of her duties in various officer positions. May presided over the International Conference of Women Workers to Promote Permanent Peace in 1915. Also she was involved with numerous club and educational activities in Indiana.

May was the head of the girls’ school until June 1907, during which time she introduced dress reforms, physical education, and prepared hundreds of young women for college through rigorous ancient and modern language and mathematics courses.

She also edited several volumes dealing the woman’s movement and wrote newspaper articles in her column “Women’s Work.”

In 1872, May married Edwin W. Thompson (died 1875) from Paw Paw, Michigan. They later moved to Indianapolis. After Edwin died, May married Theodore Lovett Sewall (died 1895) in 1880. She did not have any children from either marriage. After 1907 May made her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She died in 1920 and was buried in Indianapolis. (This information is from Notable American Women 1607-1950, 269-271.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection is of great use to any person researching American, European, and International women’s rights organizations, including the ICW and NCW, among others; the women’s rights movement; pacifism; working women; literature on the women’s movement and prominent members of the movement, particularly May Wright Sewall. Other topics of interest are the Paris Exposition (1900) and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893), both of which she attended in connection with women’s rights meetings. His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Pu Lun of China who visited the ICW meetings in Indianapolis and became a patron to the girls’ school in documented in Vol. 4. Vol. 6 has a letter from Sewall to the Empress Frederick in Dresden, 1892. There are also materials describing the Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen ocean liners on which she sailed to meetings in Europe.

While most of the collection is in English, there are materials in Greek, French, German, Italian, and Danish. Issues no. 313, 314, and 316 (1893) of the first women’s suffrage journal in Greece, the title of which is translated as The Women’s Journal, are in v. 7. These are the only issues of the journal believed to be in the U.S. [This information from scholar Karen Offen in April 2006], and include an article about and photograph of Sewall.

Note: Photographs and newspaper etchings are scattered throughout most of the scrapbooks.

Subject Terms

    • Sewall, May Wright, 1844-1920.
    • Pu Lun, Crown Prince of China
    • Norddeutscher Lloyd.
    • Classical School for Girls (Indianapolis, Ind.)
    • International Congress of Women.
    • National Congress of Women, United States.
    • Women's Suffrage Association.
    • Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis.
    • World's Columbian Exposition (1892 : Chicago, Ill.).
    • Exposition universelle internationale de 1900 (Paris, France)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    May Wright Sewall Scrapbooks. [series]:
    Box   1 V   1
    Newspaper clippings from various public and women’s newspapers on women’s rights, the medical profession and women, suffrage, women at work, and articles probably written or edited by Sewall, 1877-1880
    Box   1 V   2
    Newspaper clippings of “Women’s Work” columns by Sewall, 1882-1883
    Box   1 V   3
    Newspaper clippings, including “Women’s Work” by Sewall, and others from various newspapers, cover topics such as nursing schools for women, members of the women’s movements, suffrage conventions and meetings, women physicians, etc., 1883-1884
    Box   2 V   4
    Newspaper clippings from numerous papers, rules, regulations, committee lists, maps, programs, brochures, and other materials relating to the on the World’s Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) at Chicago, 1893, its Department of Women, 1891-1892, and the ICW, 1891-1893
    Box   2 V   5
    Letters, poetry, pamphlets, invitations, programs, and newspaper clippings from a variety of newspapers describing Susan B. Anthony, NCW-US, and the NCW-Canada, 1897-1903. There is a letter on the first page from Sewall to the Empress Frederick in Dresden, 1892, 1892-1903
    Box   3 V   6
    Invitations and programs, covering topics such as the World’s Fair in Chicago, and many women’s and educational organizations or events, 1892-1897
    Box   4 V   7
    Souvenirs, program, notes, newspaper clippings, etc. covering topics such as: women’s rights, the Art Associations of Indianapolis (of which she was an officer), the World’s Fair in Chicago, 1893, and Women’s Building there. Some newspaper clippings are in Greek, including issues no. 313, 314, and 316 in 1893 of the first women’s suffrage journal in Greece, the title of which is translated as The Women’s Journal. These are the only issues of the journal in the U.S., and include an article about and photograph of Sewall. Materials in this scrapbook are in English, French, German, Italian, and Danish, 1892-1903
    Box   5 V   8
    Newspaper clippings about women’s activities and famous women, and numerous newspaper clippings about His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Pu Lun of China. Some of the newspaper clippings are in German from Berlin, 1904, 1899-1904
    Box   6 V   9
    Entitled “Social Scrapbook for London Season, 1899, Vol.1,” it includes announcements, invitations, letters, speeches, and programs for the ICW, 1899
    Box   7 V   10
    Entitled “Social Scrapbook for London Season, 1899 Vol. 2” it includes: newspaper clippings, programs, notes and telegrams, menus, souvenirs, etc. relating to the ICW, NCW in Paris, 1900, the Carnegie Hall Dedication, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1907, and the National Arbitration and Peace Dinner, New York in 1907. There are numerous souvenirs, some in German, from her trips on the Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen ocean liners. Some newspaper clippings and programs are in French, 1899-1907