This collection is comprised of selected folders from the larger Ada James Papers (Wis Mss OP) housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Ada James (1876-1952) was a leading social reformer, humanitarian, and pacifist from Richland Center, Wisconsin and daughter of state senator David G. James. The Ada James Papers document the grass roots organizing and politics that were required to promote and guarantee the passage of women’s suffrage in Wisconsin and beyond. Three out of thirty boxes of the popular Ada James Papers were digitized in 2006 as an experiment in making the process of digitizing archival manuscript materials more efficient. As such, the organization of the materials varies from other archival collections in the UWDC.
The selected boxes—numbers 18, 19 and 20—contain incoming correspondence documenting James’s role in the suffrage movement in the last years leading up to the passage of the nineteenth amendment. At that time, James was the former president of the Wisconsin Political Equality League, a member of the Wisconsin Woman’s Suffrage Association and of the National Woman’s Party. Ms. James was a correspondent with many major leaders both in state and nationwide in the suffrage and social welfare movements including Jane Addams, Olympia Brown, Carrie Chapman Catt, Jessie J. Hooper, Belle Case La Follette, Catharine Waugh McCulloch, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Theodora W. Youmans.
The three boxes selected to be digitized are the most requested of the collection by researchers statewide through the Area Research Center system. The recommended approach to accessing the records is via the collection’s on-line finding aid. Unlike other UWDC collections, the pages of correspondence and other materials are presented simply one after another, in order, as they appear in the folder. No attempts were made to isolate individual letters from one another. While not paginated in the original form, the digital contents of each folder have had page numbers added to facilitate on-line browsing. Researchers can examine the contents of the folder by either paging through page by page or by jumping ahead or back by using the “go to page #” box at the top of each page. Keyword searching is also possible for typewritten material. Images of the typewritten documents were converted into electronic text through optical character recognition (OCR) software. Please note that a majority of the Ada James correspondence is handwritten and therefore not searchable.
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