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May Wright Sewall collection

 Collection — Folder: S1759
Identifier: S1759

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, clippings, and a calling card from May Wright Sewall in Indianapolis, Indiana ranging from 1902 to 1931 regarding speaking engagements and the Propylaeum.


  • 1902-1931


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

May Wright Sewall (1844-1920) was born in Milwaukee and was the daughter of Philander W. Wright, a teacher, and Mary W. Wright. In 1866 she earned a bachelor’s degree and in 1868 she earned a master’s degree from Northwestern Female College (Northwestern Female College was later absorbed by Northwestern University).

In 1872 she married Edwin W. Thompson and moved with him to Indianapolis. He died in 1875. She became interested in women’s suffrage and attended a national convention in 1878. In 1880 she married Theodore Lovett Sewall, who was the head of a boys classical school in Indianapolis. With him she founded and then headed the Girls Classical School. For years the school was one of the three leading girls schools in Indianapolis.

She was a prominent supporter of suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She helped found the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society in 1878, and in 1881-83 she led a campaign that narrowly failed to secure women’s suffrage in Indiana. From 1882 to 1890 she was chairman of the executive committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association. In 1888 Sewall and Frances Willard took charge of a convention held in Washington, D.C., to mark the 40th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. From that meeting emerged the National Council of Women (of which Sewall was president from 1897 to 1899) and the International Council of Women (of which Sewall was president from 1899 to 1904). In 1889 she joined in organizing and was elected first vice president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. During 1891-92 she traveled extensively in Europe to build support for the World’s Congress of Representative Women, of which she was chairman, to be held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Sewall’s later years were devoted principally to the cause of peace.

Source: "Our Founder". The Indianapolis Propylaeum. Accessed July 9, 2016.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Merica E. Hoagland on 1931/04/12.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2016/07/09 by Lauren Patton. EAD finding aid created 2016/07/09 by Lauren Patton.
May Wright Sewall collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.