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General correspondence, 1913-1914

 File — Box: 5, Folder: 1

Scope and Content

From the Collection:

The Papers of Martha McClellan Brown and Rev. William Kennedy Brown are a rich source of primary materials for research relating to the American temperance movement, the women's rights and suffrage movements, women's education, Methodism, and Spiritualism. The collection also provides an interesting look at a unusually egalitarian l9th century marriage.

Series I, Correspondence, is divided into family and general correspondence. Family correspondence consists of letters exchanged by the Browns, their six children, grandchildren, and in-laws. Especially interesting is an early group of letters between Mrs. Brown and her husband while she attended the Pittsburgh Female College as a boarding student in the early 1860's. General correspondence includes mainly letters to Mrs. Brown from her friends, colleagues in the temperance movement, and people she met in her travels and on her lecture tours. Topics include temperance, education, reform movements, publications, and various social and business matters. Span dates for the correspondence series are 1860-1916. Unfortunately, there is a large gap in family correspondence from 1867-1891.

Rev. Brown's papers in Series II consist of handwritten and typed copies of many of his talks and articles on such subjects as temperance, religion, education, and women's rights. There is also a small collection of handwritten sermon excerpts and notes. A file of newspaper clippings and a clipping scrapbook contain press notices of Rev. Brown's talks as well as articles on temperance and the "women question". Also included in this series is Brown's book, published in 1887, Gunethics or the Ethical Status of Women, and the manuscript of an unpublished religious novel, The Four Daughters of Galilee, written by Brown ca. 1900. Finishing out Series II is a small collection of religious periodicals, pamphlets and literature, some miscellaneous financial papers, and an unsigned manuscript of unknown authorship relating Civil War experiences. Span dates for this series are 1858-1915.

Martha McClellan Brown's papers in Series III fall naturally into six groupings or subseries. Subseries IIIA, Temperance, contains correspondence pertaining to Mrs. Brown's activities in the temperance movement and materials from the temperance organizations she was involved in, mainly International Order of Good Templars (IOGT), the National Prohibition Party, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). IOGT papers include publications from national and international lodges, proceedings of the National Grand Lodge, pamphlets, administrative papers, and materials from the College of Good Templary Course of Study. Prohibition Party materials consist mainly of printed programs and party platforms. The most significant material in this subseries is a file of papers pertaining to Mrs. Brown's role in founding the WCTU. Included are clippings, articles by the Rev. and Mrs. Brown, correspondence, and a copy of the call for the convention, written by Mrs. Brown, which saw the founding of the WCTU. Finishing out the temperance material is a file of broadsides announcing Mrs. Brown's temperance lectures and a small collection of miscellaneous temperance leaflets, pamphlets, and periodicals. Of particular note is the temperance scrapbook, which consists primarily correspondence and seems to relate closely to Mrs. Brown’s work with the National Prohibition Alliance. The scrapbook includes letters from such individuals as U.S. Congressmen Henry W. Blair and J. D. Taylor, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Stewart, John Lloyd Thomas (secretary of National Prohibition Bureau), Gideon Stewart (Chairman of Prohibition Reform Party National Committee), and Ohio Governor Joseph B. Foraker, among others. Span dates for Subseries IIIA are 1868 1916. Selected items from the Temperance subseries have been digitized and are available online in CORE Scholar.

Subseries 2 and 3 contain material relating to Mrs. Brown's activities with the woman suffrage movement and women's clubs. Included are broadsides, correspondence, literature, programs, and women's club constitutions and directories. Major topics covered are fund raising, suffrage demonstrations, political theory and strategy movement, and women's club activities. Span dates are 1894-1916.

Subseries 4, Published Writings, and Subseries 5, Unpublished Writings, contain Mrs. Brown's lectures and articles. Subjects range across her many interests - temperance, suffrage and women's rights, religion, education, travel, philosophy and art. There is also a scrapbook containing clippings of her editorials in the Alliance Monitor. These two subseries are the heart of Mrs. Brown's papers for they reveal her views on various subjects, her interests, her style and philosophy. Also included in Subseries 5 is a file of press clippings with reports of Mrs. Brown's public lectures. Span dates for these two series are 1869-1914.

Subseries 6, Miscellaneous, contains a file of biographical articles, many written by Rev. Brown, Mrs. Brown's autograph and address books, and two large files of her newspaper clippings. The clippings cover such topics as temperance, suffrage, and education. There are also articles about prominent women and temperance leaders, temperance meetings, and press notices about Mrs. Brown's activities. Span dates are 1874-1914.

Series IV, Educational Institutions, contains papers relating to the Browns' tenure (1882-1892) as president and vice-president of the Cincinnati Wesleyan College, one of the country's oldest women's colleges. There is also a small amount of material, mainly school catalogues, from the Miami Military Institute, a Germantown school run by their son, Orvon Graff Brown. The Cincinnati Wesleyan material includes college catalogues, articles of association, alumnae programs, clippings, correspondence, and files on the college's financial crisis of the early 1890's, its closing and subsequent lawsuits. The material in this series covers the years 1860-1916.

Undoubtedly, the most unusual series in this manuscript collection is Series V, Edward Shippen's Spiritualism Papers. Shippen was a prominant businessman and also the father-in-law of the Brown's second daughter, Charme Brown Shippen. Papers in this series reflect his involvement with Spiritualism, a late l9th century religious movement based on communication with the spirits of dead persons. Materials consist of letters to Martha McClellan Brown, which are mainly transcripts of seances, two notebooks containing records of seances, published articles by Shippen on Spiritualism, and an issue of the Spiritualist periodical, Banner of Light. The final items in this series are an obituary for Shippen and an original 18th century letter from Thomas Penn, a colonial governor of Pennsylvania, to one of Shippen's ancestors, William Shippen. Span dates for Series V are 1764-1904.

The photographs in Series VI are mainly of the Browns, their children and grandchildren including several portraits of Martha McClellan Brown spanning the years 1870-1916. Also included in this series is an album of snapshots taken at the Miami Military Institute, 1902-1904, and photographs of Grafton Shoals, South Carolina, where the Brown's youngest son, Kleon, worked in 1907. The photographs from Kleon Thaw Brown's years at the Miami Military Institute can be viewed online in Wright State University's Campus Online Repository (CORE Scholar):

Series VII contains 70 ribbons, badges and buttons reflecting the Browns' social, political, religious and community causes 1886-1916. Two of the items date to 1940. This associates them with Katharine Kennedy Brown (MS-146) rather than with Martha McClellan Brown (MS-147).


  • Creation: 1913-1914


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.


From the Collection: 8.75 linear feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA