Montgomery, Charlotte Nichols, 1904-1994

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Charlotte Nichols Montgomery, journalist, columnist and consumer advocate, was born on March 31,1904, in Brooklyn, N.Y. to attorney Roswell Shepherd Nichols and Margaret Pellet Nichols. Raised in Westfield N.J., she graduated from the Hartridge School in nearby Plainfield in 1923 and matriculated to Vassar College where she concentrated on English, history and economics. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Montgomery received an A.B. in economics in 1927. Upon return from a student conference in Geneva and travels in Europe, Montgomery went to work as an advertising copywriter for the firm Lyddon, Hanford and Kimball of New York City, until being laid off in 1929. She was introduced to Harry M. Montgomery, an advertising executive, in 1926. After a two-year courtship, they were married in 1928 and had two children. She began working as a freelance advertising copywriter in 1931. From 1933-1935, Montgomery wrote society news for the Westfield Leader and from 1935-1937 she wrote short stories and topical essays that she submitted for publication with limited success. By 1938, Parents magazine and others periodicals had started publishing her articles which related primarily to the domestic life of a young family. During this period Montgomery also wrote two romance novels, both published in 1942, Summer Job and Keep Love Flying . When her husband enlisted in the Army in 1943 and went overseas, first to England and France, then to his final posting in Heilbronn, Germany, where he served as a Civil Administrator, Montgomery worked as an advertising executive in his stead for Ferry Hanly, a New York City advertising firm on Fifth Avenue. Montgomery's career as a columnist and consumer advocate was launched when she approached the advertising trade journal, Tide, with a proposal for the column that became From the Woman's Viewpoint. From 1948 on, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor. By 1951 she was simultaneously writing columns for Redbook and Good Housekeeping and was a regular contributor to Fine Cars, the National Observer, Today's Woman, and other periodicals. The first woman to write a column about automobiles, the Good Housekeeping automotive column Woman and Her Car (1950-1956) became her third book, Handbook for Women Drivers (1960). In 1955 Montgomery began writing the column Strictly as a Customer for Good Housekeeping . The column was renamed in in 1957 to Speaker for the House, a column that ran until her retirement in 1982. It was in this column for consumers that topics such as automobile safety, (child safety was a particular concern), services for the handicapped, fraudulent packaging, insurance, mail scams, and the Equal Rights amendment were addressed and advice for consumers dispensed. She was also a consultant to Bristol-Myers, Campbell Soup Co., Citgo, General Foods, Ford Motor Co., Proctor and Gamble, and RMDavis Productions, among others. Additionally, she gave many speeches to business and women's groups over the years and participated in professional, national and local organizations. She won numerous awards and commendations during her fifty-five year career as a journalist and pioneering consumer advocate. In 1982 Montgomery suffered a severe stroke but continued her life in Westfield until 1994, when she moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where she died at age ninety on November 10 of that year.

From the guide to the Charlotte Nichols Montgomery Papers MS 0852., 1912-1986, 1954-1974, (Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Charlotte Nichols Montgomery Papers MS 0852., 1912-1986, 1954-1974 Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Women's Project of New Jersey. Records, 1984-2004 Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Carter, John Mack. person
associatedWith Clayton, Jan. person
associatedWith Mayes, Herbert R. (Herbert Raymond), 1900-1987 person
associatedWith Montgomery, Harry M., 1898-1975 person
associatedWith Montgomery, Jr., Harry M., 1932- person
associatedWith Montgomery, Sarah, 1930- person
associatedWith Pitrova, Zdenka. person
associatedWith Vassar College corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Project of New Jersey corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Advice columnists
Women authors, American
Automobile driving
Automobile industry and trade
Child rearing
Consumer education
Women consultants
Women consumers
Women journalists
World War, 1939-1945


Birth 1904

Death 1994

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Ark ID: w6kj5bxr

SNAC ID: 40822438