The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America is the primary repository for the papers of early 20th-century American feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935). To celebrate the sesquicentennial of Gilman's birth, the Schlesinger Library digitized Gilman's papers, with the generous help of the Cynthia Green Colin '54 Fund.
The bulk of the Gilman papers are divided among the following two collections:
Correspondence, diaries, journals, manuscripts, articles, reviews, photos, and drawings provide information about Gilman's personal and public life. Largest group of letters, 1897-1900, is to her future second husband, George Houghton Gilman. Other correspondence includes a sizable group to her daughter Katharine between 1895 and 1934; letters from William Dean Howells, Jane Addams, Edward Bellamy, Susan B. Anthony, James Keir Hardie, and Florence Kelley; and items pertaining to her books and articles. Literary material includes manuscripts and typescripts of chapters for Sex in Civilization (1929) and Woman's Coming of Age (1930); the plays A Pretty Idiot (1889), Changing Hands (ca. 1890), and Three Women; the books Social Ethics, A Study in Ethics (1933), and "A Winter in California.
Addenda to the papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman consist mainly of family correspondence, photographs, poems, and printed material. Correspondence includes love poems and courtship letters to and from Charles Walter Stetson, her first husband, and letters to and from her daughter Katharine, who was raised by Stetson and his second wife, Grace Ellery Channing. Also included are genealogies, Gilman's 1894 divorce decree from Stetson, and clippings and ephemera from Gilman's lectures.
Smaller collections of Gilman papers have also digitized:
Not included in the digital collection:
If you have any questions about the Gilman Digital Collections, don't hesitate to Ask a Schlesinger Librarian.
How to Use the Gilman Digital Collections
For the two largest Gilman collections, you can access the digital content through the finding aid. For the smaller collections, just click on the links provided above to go to the catalog record which includes a link the content.
- Finding aids provide detailed descriptions of each collection. Reading the finding aid is highly recommended!
- The inventory section of the finding aid provides a folder-by-folder listing of the contents of the collection.
3. In the inventory section of the finding aid, click on "See digital image."
- Links to the digitized content is provided at the end of the folder title. The digitized content is delivered at the folder level.
4. Digital content is delivered through Harvard's page delivery service (PDS).
- After clicking on "see digital image," the digital content will open in a new window or tab in your browser. You can now review the content of the folder you chose.
- Use the red arrow to page through the folder. To browse the content of the folder, click on the "Show Thumbnails" link in the left hand navigation bar. For more information, see the PDS User Guide.
Images from the Schlesinger Library
Portrait of Charlotte Perkins Gilman at age 24.
For more photographs from the Gilman papers, click here.