Mrs. John E. Milholland Discussion/April 1998


Query From Val Marie Johnson vmj@escape.com 21 April 1998

Hello all! I am wondering is anyone has information about a woman that I only know as Mrs. John E. Milholland. I am hoping that someone at least knows what her first name was! The literal erasure of women from history through the naming practice never ceases to amaze me.

She was a suffragist and wrote a column called "Talks About Women" for _The Crisis_(NAACP's periodical) when it first started publishing in 1910, and her husband was the NAACP's first treasurer. Thanks in advance.

Responses:

From Gael Graham graham@wpoff.wcu.edu 21 April 1998

Do you mean Inez Milholland? She led a student suffrage movement at Vassar near the turn of the century, later became a Socialist.

From Joan R. Gunderson gunderj@numen.elon.edu 21 April 1998

Mrs. Milholland is Jean Torrey Milholland. Her daughter Inez Milholland Boiseevain has a sketch in Notable American Women. Since Inez was born in 1886, Jean Milholland would have been born about the time of the Civil War. Her husband developed a successful pneumatic-tube system for city mail delivery that was used in Europe and America. The sketch of the daughter suggests that Inez got her reform interests from her father. It sounds to me from your inquiry like her mother could also have been an influence.

From Katherine C Larson kcl@hopper.unh.edu 21 April 1998

Inez Milholland was the daughter of John Milholland.

From Cynthia Russett cynthia.russett@yale.edu 21 April 1998

This would seem to be Jean (Torrey) Milholland, wife of John Elmer Milholland. He is described as "an inveterate champion of worthy causes, including Negro rights." They were parents of a much better known figure, Inez Milholland Boissevain, a very prominent suffragists, labor activist, and pacifist. See her bio in Notable American Women.

From Linda Lumsden Linda.Lumsden@wku.edu 22 April 1998

You can find Jean Torrey Milholland's obituary on pg. 21 of the Feb 16, 1939, New York Times. I would appreciate it if you could give me the citations or at least the years for her columns in _The Crisis_; as I said earlier, I'm writing a biography of Inez and this is interesting news about her mother. Contact me if you'd like more info on the family.

From Heidi Campbell-Shoaf hcampbell@dar.org 22 April 1998

Working as a historian at a hereditary organization that emphasizes geneaology has made me appreciate the uses of geneaology in historical research. I suggest that you look in the 1910 and 1920 federal census records. If she was living with her husband at this time she should be listed in the census under his name, as men were always assumed to be head of houshold at this time. The census will not only give her full name, but place of birth and her parents' birthplace, in addition to children living at home, and education level as well as other pertinent information.

It is ironic that a suffragist would opt to use her husband's name and not her own. I always find it interesting how many women today still use that method of address not seeming to realize that they are, in effect, erasing themselves from history.

[Ed. Note: For further discussion on the topic of using husband's names, see the following discussion on H-Women: "Women Taking Husband's Names"]