Skip to main content

Carrie Chapman Catt papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 21/7/3

Scope and Content

This collection (1878-2007) contains biographical data, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, bibliographies, publications, reviews, addresses, awards, scrapbook of tributes, material relating to the Woman's Centennial Congress, artifacts (Including jewelry from India), and her will. Correspondents include E. W. Stanton, A. B. Storms and Maria Roberts. Box 4 consists of original documents that have been restricted, photocopies of the items can be found in the other boxes. The collection also contains family correspondence, some of it with Catt, but mostly between relatives and friends of the family.


  • Creation: 1878-2007

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research: Boxes 1-3, 5-8. Restricted: Box 4 (Original Documents) permission of department required for access.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, suffragist, early feminist, political activist, and Iowa State alumna (1880), was born on January 9, 1859 in Ripon, Wisconsin to Maria Clinton and Lucius Lane. At the close of the Civil War, the Lanes moved to a farm near Charles City, Iowa where they remained throughout their lives.

Carrie entered Iowa State College in March of 1877, graduating in November of 1880 (at that time, the school year ran from March through November). She graduated at the top of her class and while in Ames established military drills for women, became the first woman student to give an oration before a debating society, earned extra money as assistant to the librarian, and was a member of Pi Beta Phi.

After graduation she became the high school principal in Mason City and then in 1883 the superintendent of Mason City Schools. In this capacity she met Leo Chapman, editor of the Mason City Republican, and they married in February 1885. After her husband's death in 1886, she spent some time in California as a newspaper reporter and then returned to Iowa to begin her crusade for women's suffrage.

Catt was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900-1904 and from 1915 until its goal was reached. She also formed and was president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance for many years. When the women's vote was attained in 1920 Mrs. Catt looked ahead and encouraged the formation of a non-partisan group, the League of Women Voters, a group still viable today.

Early in her suffrage work she ran into a classmate from Ames, George W. Catt. They were married in 1890 and until his death in October 1905, he supported his wife's work through his engineering company financially and through his personal support of suffrage. Carrie attained much recognition for her work throughout her life and received many awards such as the Chi Omega in 1941, the Pictorial Review Award for her international disarmament work in 1931, and induction into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She donated her entire estate to her alma mater, where she was the first woman to deliver the commencement address. She died in March 1947 at her home in New Rochelle, New York.


3.36 Linear Feet (8 document boxes)


The collection is organized into two series:

Series 1, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection, 1878-2007 (alphabetical)

Series 2, Catt Family Correspondence, 1932-1966, undated (alphabetical)


Digital reproductions of a selection of materials from the Carrie Chapman Catt papers are available electronically. Please see the Electronic Resources section for a link.

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 21/7/3. Carrie Chapman Catt papers, 1878-2007
May 29, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672