Elizabeth Glendower Evans, Women in America: Series 1 on Microfilm

Collection Number: 6077 mf

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


Elizabeth Glendower Evans, Women in America: Series 1 on Microfilm, 1874- 1937
Collection Number:
6077 mf
Evans, Elizabeth Glendower
11 microfilm reels
Forms of Material:
Records, microfilm.
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Collection material in English


Elizabeth Glendower Evans (February 28, 1856-December 12, 1937), was born Elizabeth Gardiner in New Rochelle, New York, the fourth of five children of Edward and Sophia Harrison (Mifflin) Gardiner. Evans's father died when she was three years old and, as she writes in her "Memoir," "We were imported to Boston by my father's father, William Howard Gardiner, where we grew up as poor relations of a very aristocratic family." After two years in Brookline Mrs. Gardiner moved her family into Boston. Evans attended private schools; in her teens, "Going to church became my one interest." She attended Trinity Church, where she was inspired by the teachings of Phillips Brooks. Evans taught Sunday school and planned to become a missionary until, in 1877, she met Glendower Evans (GE), then a student at Harvard College and a close friend of William James. They were married in 1882, after GE had finished Harvard Law School and entered a Boston law firm.
Their marriage was brief because GE died suddenly in 1886. During these four years, according to Evans's "Memoir," the "doors were always open to the friends he made. In those days I don't think I ever talked at all. I used to sit by the fire and listen and listen...." The friends she listened to included Louis Brandeis and William James, but it was her husband who had the greatest influence on Evans. From their first meeting he encouraged her to read more widely; literature, politics, social issues, and public service were the major topics of his letters and their discussions. After Glendower Evans's death Elizabeth added his name to hers and dedicated her life to studying social conditions and helping others.
Some of the activities Elizabeth was involved with are as follows: Trustee, Massachusetts State Reform Schools (1886-1914); attended philosopher Josiah Royce's courses at Radcliffe College (1890's); appointed by Boston Mayor Nathan Mathews to a special committee to inspect the public institutions (1891); met Florence Kelley (1903); helped raise money for strikers in Haverhill, Mass. (1905); visited Georgia and Alabama to study child labor conditions (1907); went to England to study the socialist movement, met Margaret Bondfield, John and Katherine Bruce Glasier, J. Ramsay MacDonald (1908-09); attended Women's Trade Union League convention in Chicago, and met Robert M. and Belle La Follette in Wisconsin (1909); contributor to LaFollette's Weekly (later Magazine) and it's successor, The Progressive (1909-1935); made first suffrage speech; joined Roxbury, Mass. carpet workers' strike (1910-); appointed by Massachusetts Governor Eugene N. Foss to the minimum wage commisson (1911); observed first Lawrence, Mass. Strike, met William D. ("Big Bill") Haywood (1911);
spoke in support of suffrage in Massachusetts, the Midwest, and to President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, D.C. (1912-1914); traveled to Panama with Belle La Follette (1914); U.S. delegate to the International Congress of Women in The Hague (1915); campaigned for President Wilson (1916); joined the picket line at the second Lawrence, Mass. strike (1919);
trip to England and continent (1919-1920); national director, American Civil Liberties Union (1920-1937); put up liberty bonds to bail out aliens held at Deer Island; met Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti and became their personal friend and a leading supporter of their cause (1920-); provided the funds for the Voluntary Defenders Committee (1929);
installed radios for the prisoners at the state prison in Charlestown, Mass. (1931);
was awarded the first annual Ford Hall Forum medal for "prominent service to human welfare" (1933)
She was extremely generous with the money she inherited, often sacrificing her own needs to help both individuals and the causes she supported. She died in 1937 at the age of 81 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937
Arther and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America --Archives

Women--United States--History--Library resources
Women's rights--United States--History--Library resources

Form and Genre Terms:


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Cite As:
Elizabeth Glendower Evans, Women in America: Series 1 on Microfilm #6077 mf. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


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