Out of the blue, a call came in last March from a young woman who identified herself as the great-granddaughter of Edna Lamprey Stantial. While Stantial’s name is familiar to those who study women’s suffrage, there’s no significant collection of her papers in any archives, so interest at the Schlesinger was immediate. For many years, Stantial was the archivist of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the family had several cartons of material she had saved. The caller had learned about the library’s suffrage-related collections from an online search and wondered whether we would be interested in this material as a gift. The answer was easy—yes!
When the cartons arrived in June, it became clear just how great a gift—to the library and to scholarship—the Stantial papers are. They include dozens of letters from leading American suffragists such as Alice Stone Blackwell and Carrie Chapman Catt. Stantial long served as secretary to the suffragist and women’s rights advocate Maud Wood Park ’98, so the papers also include hundreds of letters to Park from an array of notables, plus articles, photographs, clippings, and rare ephemera.
The Stantial papers tell the story of the struggle for women’s rights in the decades beyond passage of the 19th Amendment, offering insight into the issues with which these women wrestled, the strategies they employed, and the personal relationships they forged and sometimes fractured.