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Charlotte Perkins Gilman Digital Collections

Images from the Schlesinger Library

Portrait of Charlotte Perkins Gilman at age twenty four

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Start your archival research on Charlotte Perkins Gilman with this guide. 

Use the menu on the left to view additional material related to this topic. 

Take Note

Many of our collections are stored offsite and/or have access restrictions. Be sure to contact us in advance of your visit.


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:

Letter of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1908.

Papers, 1894-1939 (inclusive).

Papers, 1899-1992 (inclusive).

Papers, 189?

Not included in the digital collection:

Grace Ellery Channing Papers

Additional Papers of Grace Ellery Channing

Charles Walter Stetson Papers

Katherine Beecher Stetson Papers


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.


 1. To begin, access the finding aids Screenshot of finding aid for call #177

Call #177 

Call # MC 588

  • Finding aids provide detailed descriptions of each collection. Reading the finding aid is highly recommended!








Screenshot of finding aid for call #1772. Click on the "Inventory" link in the left-hand navigation bar in the finding aid.

  • The inventory section of the finding aid provides a folder-by-folder listing of the contents of the collection.









Screenshot of Inventory for call #177

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.









Screenshot of Page Delivery Service (PDS)

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.











5. Navigate through the folder contentsScreenshot of how to navigate through the folder contents.

  • 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.










Screenshot of navigating the page delivery service6. To advance to the next folder, go back out to the finding aid by clicking on your browser tab.