Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937

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Social reformer Elizabeth Glendower Evans was involved in prison reform, support of striking workers, the Massachusetts campaign for the first minimum wage act for women, the movement for women's suffrage, and peace. She was a contributing editor and financial supporter of La Follette's Magazine and the Progressive, and national director of the American Civil Liberties Union (1920-1937).

From the description of Papers, 1859-1944 (inclusive), 1882-1944 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232006675

Elizabeth Glendower Evans (February 28, 1856 - December 12, 1937), was born Elizabeth Gardiner in New Rochelle, New York, the fourth of five children of Edward and Sophia Harrison (Mifflin) Gardiner. EGE's father died when she was three years old and, as she writes in her "Memoir," "We were imported to Boston by my father's father, William Howard Gardiner, where we grew up as poor relations of a very aristocratic family." After two years in Brookline Mrs. Gardiner moved her family into Boston . EGE attended private schools; in her teens, "Going to church became my one interest." She attended Trinity Church, where she was inspired by the teachings of Phillips Brooks. EGE taught Sunday school and planned to become a missionary until, in 1877, she met Glendower Evans, then a student at Harvard College and a close friend of William James. They were married in 1882, after GE had finished Harvard Law School and entered a Boston law firm.

Their marriage was brief because GE died suddenly in 1886. During these four years, according to EGE's "Memoir," the "doors were always open to the friends he made. In those days I don't think I ever talked at all. I used to sit by the fire and listen and listen...." The friends she listened to included Louis Brandeis and William James, but it was her husband who had the greatest influence on EGE. From their first meeting he encouraged her to read more widely; literature, politics, social issues, and public service were the major topics of his letters and their discussions. After GE's death EGE added his name to hers and, as the following chronology shows, dedicated her life to studying social conditions and helping others.

  • 1886 - 1914 : trustee, Massachusetts State Reform Schools
  • 1890's: attended philosopher Josiah Royce's courses at Radcliffe College
  • 1891: appointed by Boston Mayor Nathan Mathews to a special committee to inspect the public institutions
  • 1903: met Florence Kelley
  • 1905: helped raise money for strikers in Haverhill, Mass.
  • 1907: visited Georgia and Alabama to study child labor conditions
  • 1908 - 09 : went to England to study the socialist movement, met Margaret Bondfield, John and Katherine Bruce Glasier, J. Ramsay MacDonald
  • 1909: attended Women's Trade Union League convention in Chicago, and met Robert M. and Belle La Follette in Wisconsin
  • 1909 - 35 : contributor to LaFollette's Weekly (later Magazine) and it's successor, The Progressive
  • 1910 - : made first suffrage speech; joined Roxbury, Mass. carpet workers' strike
  • 1911: appointed by Massachusetts Governor Eugene N. Foss to the minimum wage commisson
  • 1911: observed first Lawrence, Mass. Strike, met William D. ("Big Bill") Haywood
  • 1912 - 14 : spoke in support of suffrage in Massachusetts, the Midwest, and to President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, D.C.
  • 1914: traveled to Panama with Belle La Follette
  • 1915: U.S. delegate to the International Congress of Women in The Hague
  • 1916: campaigned for President Wilson
  • 1919: joined the picket line at the second Lawrence, Mass. strike
  • 1919 - 20 : trip to England and continent
  • 1920 - 37 : national director, American Civil Liberties Union
  • 1920 - : put up liberty bonds to bail out aliens held at Deer Island; met Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti and became their personal friend and a leading supporter of their cause
  • 1929: provided the funds for the Voluntary Defenders Committee
  • 1931: installed radios for the prisoners at the state prison in Charlestown, Mass.
  • 1933: was awarded the first annual Ford Hall Forum medal for "prominent service to human welfare"

EGE was extremely generous with the money she inherited, often sacrificing her own needs to help both individuals and the causes she supported. She died in 1937 at the age of 81 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

More biographical material is available in this collection (see Series I for EGE's "Memoir," diaries, articles, and tributes by others). See also the article in Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources. In the Jessie Donaldson Hodder papers (A-23) at the Schlesinger Library there are ten folders of EGE material, including correspondence and a diary . There is EGE correspondence in the La Follette Family collection in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

From the guide to the Papers, 1859 (1882-1944), (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Papers in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1915-1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Nichols-Shurtleff family. Papers, 1780-1953, (bulk: 1850-1940) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Van Waters, Miriam, 1887-1974. Papers, 1861-1971 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dana, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1881-1950. Papers on Henri Barbusse and Sacco-Vanzetti, 1913-1949. Houghton Library
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
referencedIn Stantial, Edna Lamprey. Series XI of the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1893-1944 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn La Follette family papers, 1781-1988 (bulk: 1910-1953) Library of Congress
referencedIn Barrows family papers, 1861-1931. Houghton Library
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Trip diaries, 1882-1930 San Diego State University Library, SDSU Library and Information Access
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers and correspondence from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. Women in America: Series 1, 1874-1937 Cornell University Library
referencedIn Putnam, James Jackson, 1846-1918. Letter, 1907. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Diary, 1915 and 1919-1920 San Diego State University Library, SDSU Library and Information Access
referencedIn Hamilton, Alice, 1869-1970. Papers, 1909-1987 (bulk: 1909-1965) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers, 1859-1944 (bulk: 1882-1944) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933. Additional papers, 1841-1940 Houghton Library
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Ehrmann, Sara Rosenfeld, 1895-1993. Papers, 1859-1997 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee. Aldino Felicani collection: Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee records, 1915-1977 (bulk: 1920-1927) Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
referencedIn Essay collection of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, 1952-1976 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers and correspondence from Radcliffe College, 1882-1944 Mount Saint Vincent University Library, Mount Library
referencedIn Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886-1960. Papers, 1894-1960 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Manny, Frank Addison, 1868-1954. Papers, 1890-1955 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Papers, 1893-1962 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Woman's rights collection, 1853-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn James, William, 1842-1910. Papers, 1803-1941 (bulk: 1862-1910) Houghton Library
creatorOf Baldwin, Roger Nash, 1884-1981. Sacco-Vanzetti case records, 1920-1928. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn American Association for Labor Legislation. Series 1, Subseries 2, part a. Correspondence (A-G) 1910-1915. [microform]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn Ehrmann, Herbert B. (Herbert Brutus), 1891-1970. Papers, 1906-1970 Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
creatorOf Lawrence, William, 1850-1941. Draft petition to Governor Fuller, 1927 April 11-12. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers, 1847-1968 (bulk: 1909-1929) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn O'Sullivan, Mary Kenney, 1864-1943. Papers, 1892-1943 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Woman's rights collection, 1853-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hodder, Jessie Donaldson, 1867-1931. Papers, 1873-1931 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers, 1936-1940. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Chafee, Zechariah, Jr., 1885-1957 person
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associatedWith Community Church, Boston corporateBody
associatedWith Consumers' League of Massachusetts corporateBody
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correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
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associatedWith Ehrmann, Sara (Rosenfeld), 1895- person
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correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Hodder, Jessie Donaldson, 1867-1931. person
associatedWith Holcombe, Arthur Norman, 1884- person
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correspondedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union corporateBody
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correspondedWith Kent, Elizabeth person
associatedWith Kittredge, Mabel Hyde 1867-1955 person
associatedWith La Follette, Belle, 1859-1931 person
correspondedWith LaFollette family family
associatedWith La Follette, Fola, 1882-1970 person
associatedWith La Follette, Philip, 1897-1965 person
associatedWith La Follette, Robert M., Jr., 1895-1953 person
associatedWith Lawrence, William, 1850-1941. person
associatedWith Lee, Jennie, 1904- person
associatedWith Lee, Joseph, 1862-1937 person
associatedWith Lee, Margaret Cabot, 1866-1920. person
associatedWith Livingstone, Alice person
correspondedWith Long, Cedric person
associatedWith Lowell, Josephine Shaw, 1843-1905 person
associatedWith Lurie, Reuben L. person
associatedWith Luscomb, Florence Hope, 1887- person
associatedWith Lyman, Arthur T., 1894- person
associatedWith Lyman, Susan Channing Cabot. person
associatedWith MacDonald, James Ramsay, 1866-1937 person
associatedWith Manny, Frank Addison, 1868-1954. person
associatedWith Massachusetts Cotton Mills corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts. Dept. of Correction. corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts. Dept. of Mental Diseases. corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts State Reform Schools corporateBody
associatedWith McNulty, William J. person
associatedWith Mead, Lucia Ames, 1856-1936 person
associatedWith Miller, Dickinson Sergeant, 1868-1963 person
associatedWith Mirabehn, 1892-1982. person
associatedWith Moors, Ethel person
associatedWith Morse, Francis Rollins, 1850-1928 person
associatedWith Murray, Lady Mary, -1956 person
associatedWith Mussey, Henry Raymond, 1875-1940 person
associatedWith Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967 person
associatedWith Nichols family. family
associatedWith NICHOLS-SHURTLEFF FAMILY family
associatedWith Niles, David K., 1892-1952 person
associatedWith O'Sullivan, Mary Kenney, 1864-1943 person
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associatedWith Peabody, Francis Greenwood, 1847-1936 person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965 person
associatedWith Porter, Margaret (Peggy) person
associatedWith Putnam, Charles P -1914 person
associatedWith Putnam, Elizabeth Cabot, 1836-1922. person
associatedWith Putnam Family family
associatedWith Putnam, James Jackson, 1846-1918. person
associatedWith Raushenbush, Elizabeth Brandeis, 1896- person
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associatedWith Roehrer, Joseph person
associatedWith Rogers, Annette Perkins, 1841-1920. person
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associatedWith Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee. corporateBody
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Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Great Britain
United States
Physician and patient
Child labor--Law and legislation
Family--19th century--History
Labor unions
Women social reformers--Correspondence
Working class
Capital punishment
Women social reformers--Diaries
Strikes and lockouts
Freedom of speech
Old age pensions
Women's rights--History--Library resources
Women--History--Library resources
Prison reformers
Social reformers


Birth 1856

Death 1937


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SNAC ID: 85046987