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Mary Heaton Vorse Papers

Identifier: LP000190
Part I: Series Description: Series 1, Manuscripts: - Books - Articles and Stories - Other Writings - Notes - Miscellaneous - Stories Written and Sold - Other Authors

Series 2, Correspondence: - Index to Correspondents - Correspondence, 1841-1966

Series 3, Daily Notes: - Daily Summaries 1918-1965 - Yearly Summaries ca. 1903-1965 - Daily Notes 1917-1965

Series 4, General Information Files

Series 5, Clippings ca. 1892-1963: - Alphabetical - Chronological - Miscellaneous

Series 6, Personal Papers: - Address and Appointment Books - Legal Papers - Financial Papers - Miscellaneous Notes - Memorabilia - Family Papers - Biographical Material - Sketches and Drawings - Miscellaneous

Series 7, Oversize

Series 8, Material received from the State Historical: Society of Wisconsin concerning strikes in Gastonia and Marion, N.C. and Elizabethon, Tennessee, 1928-1930.
Part II: Series Description: Series 9, Articles and Stories, 1705 - 1964: Manuscripts in various formats of thirty-six short stories, written by Mary Heaton Vorse between 1898 and 1918 and published in popular magazines (see also Part I, boxes 15 - 35). Manuscript fragments, work notes, and a small body of personal papers dating from 1705 - 1964 are located at the end of the series.

Series 10, Articles and Stories of Other Authors, 1892 - 1955: Manuscripts in various formats of other authors - an article by Charles Hapgood; George E. Holt's Moroccan manuscripts and stories (see also Part I, box 41); the memeographed prison letters of Kate Richards O'Hare; two articles by Rev. Albert Buel Vorse; and the articles, stories and expedition notes of Albert White Vorse (see also Part I, boxes 43 - 45). A few personal papers are also included.

Series 11, Pamphlets, 1874 - 1964: A subject file of pamphlets, brochures, flyers and other printed background materials collected by Mary Heaton Vorse. Much of it dates from the periods of World War I and World War II and was used for the writing of articles and pamphlets which Vorse did during those years (see also Part I, boxes 94 - 132). The topics of labor and foreign relations are especially well represented.


  • 1841 - 1966


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


77 Linear Feet (166 MB, 1 OS)


Literary manuscripts and related papers, correspondence, daily notes and journals, reference and research material, notes, clippings, pamphlets, personal and family papers, and memorabilia, collected by Mrs. Vorse, writer, labor journalist, and social critic of the U.S. She also covered strikes, civil and labor disturbances, wars, revolutions, and political upheavals in other parts of the world. From the textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1912) to the textile strike in Henderson, North Carolina (1959), her writings and activities include the International Women Suffrage Convention (1913); the IWW; child labor; Consumers League; the organization of the Provincetown Players (1915); mining strikes in Michigan and Minnesota (1916); the rise of Hitler; invasion of Poland; postwar conditions in Europe after both world wars; the Scottsboro case; the steel strikes of 1919 and 1936-37; organizational drive of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (1920-21); the Sacco-Vanzetti case (1920); Palmer raids and criminal syndicalist cases (1921-23); textile strikes in Passaie (1926) and Gastonia (1929); Farmers Holiday Association (1932); migrant workers; automobile sit-down strikes (1936-37); UNRRA (1945-47); the Sinarquistas in Mexico (1949); crime on the New York-New Jersey waterfronts (1950-54). Correspondents include John Dewey, John DosPassos, Dave Dubinsky, John Edelman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, William 2. Foster, John F. Kennedy, John L. Lewis, Sinclair Lewis, Robert E. Peary, Walter Reuther, Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln Steffens, and many other prominent persons in the labor, literary, and political fields.


Mary Heaton Vorse (nee Mary Marvin Heaton), author, labor journalist, and social critic, was born in New York City on October 11, 1874 and grew up in Amherst, Mass. Her parents traveled extensively in Europe and Mary received a major part of her education abroad, where she learned to speak fluent French, Italian, and German. Her early desire was to be an artist and as a young woman she spent several winters studying art in Paris.

Albert White Vorse, whom she married in 1898, died in 1910. She married Joseph O'Brien in 1912, and was widowed for the second time in 1915. She had three children: Heaton White Vorse, Mary Ellen (Vorse) Boyden, and Joel O'Brien.

From 1907 until her death in 1966 Mrs. Vorse made her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Vorse's professional writing career began when she served as a substitute book-reviewer on the Criterion, a magazine which was then being edited by her husband, Albert White Vorse. Although known in later years primarily as a labor writer and journalist, she achieved her initial success as a writer of light fiction, both short stories and novels. Her published writings include sixteen books and more than 400 articles and stories which have appeared in over 70 periodicals, including Woman's Home Companion, McCall's, Harper's, Masses, New Republic, New Yorker, McClure's, Survey, Delineator, Atlantic, and Ladies' Home Journal. In addition, she has written countless news articles and series for International News Service (INS), U.P., North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), Labor Press Associates, Federated Press, New York Post, New York World, Washington Post, Washington News, Paris Post, and many others.

In 1962 Mrs. Vorse, along with Eleanor Roosevelt and Upton Sinclair, received the Social Justice Award from the United Automobile Workers.

On June 14, 1966 Mary Heaton Vorse died at her home in Provincetown.
A chronicle of her major activities and travels would include:

1909-10 - Morocco 1910 - Campaign to reduce the infant mortality rate in New York City. 1912 - Lawrence Strike. (Harper's Weekly) 1913 - Morocco. - Rome. Studied the Montessori Method of education. - Budapest. International Woman Suffrage Convention. (Delegate and reporter) - Paterson (N.J.) Silk Strike. 1915 - Amsterdam. International Congress of Woman. - Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, England. War correspondent, covering the effects of war on civil populations. - Provincetown. Organization of the Provincetown Players. 1916 - Mining strike on the Mesabi Range. Minnesota, Michigan. 1917-18 - Articles on labor under wartime conditions. Special study of working conditions, labor unrest, living conditions, etc. in Bridgeport, Conn. - Series of pamphlets on the rights of small nations (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) for the Committee on Public Information. 1918-19 - Europe. England, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia. Publicity for the Red Cross, the Balkan Commission, and the American Relief Administration. Articles and news stories; studies of postwar conditions in industrial areas. 1919 - Switzerland. Second International Socialist Conference. - Steel Strike. Pittsburgh, Homestead, Braddock, etc. Wrote weekly newspaper stories and publicity releases for the Steel Workers Organizing Committee. Later wrote Men and Steel. 1920 - Sacco and Vanzetti case. 1920-21 - Amalgamated Clothing Workers. Organizational drive; lock-out. Wrote series of stories. 1921 - Palmer Raids. 1921-22 - Russia. Reported on living conditions, political conditions, and the effects of the famine. 1922-23 - Criminal Syndicalist cases in Michigan. 1926 - Passaic (N.J.) textile strike. Wrote articles, publicity releases, news stories, and Passaic. 1929 - Southern textile strikes. Later wrote Strike--A Novel of Gastonìa. 1932 - Farmers Holiday Association. 1933 - Scottsboro retrial. - Austria, England, Germany. The London Economic Conference. The rise of Hitler. 1935-36 - Office of Indian Affairs. Editor of Indians At Work. 1936-37 - C.I.O. organizational drives in various industries: automobile, steel, textiles, etc. 1937 - Auto strikes; sit-downs. Flint, Anderson - Steel strike. Youngstown 1939 - France, Germany, Yugoslavia, the invasion of Poland. 1943 - Extensive travels throughout the U.S. writing about labor and the civilian population during wartime. 1945-47 - Europe. Publicity for U.N.R.R.A.; free-lance reporting. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia 1949 - Mexico. The Sinarquîstas. 1950 - Chrysler Strike. - White House Conference on Children and Youth. 1950-54 - New York-New Jersey waterfront. Crime and corruption on the waterfront; problems of dock workers. 1959 - Henderson (N.C.) Strike.


Part I: Arranged in 8 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-45), Series 2 (Boxes 46-76), Series 3 (Boxes 77-93), Series 4 (Boxes 94-132), Series 5 (Boxes 133-144), Series 6 (Boxes 145-154), Series 7 (oversize), and Series 8 (Boxes 155-156). Folders are arranged alphabetically, or chronologically, depending upon the series.
Part II: Arranged in 3 series- Series 9 (Boxes 157-158), Series 10 (Boxes 158-159), and Series 11 (Boxes 160-166). Folders are arranged alpahabetically by author or topic.


The papers of Mary Heaton Vorse were deposited with the Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs in December, 1966 by her children Heaton Vorse, Mary Ellen Boyden, and Joel O'Brien.

Other Copies

Some collection content in series 2, 3, 4, and 6 (boxes 63-82, 84-107, 114, 116, 117, 128, 130, 145, 146, 150, 151, 153, and 154) (1918-1966, undated) is available on 12 reels of microfilm: correspondence, journal notes, general information files, and personal papers. Arrangement corresponds with the physical arrangement of the papers.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by BF in 1968.
Guide to the Mary Heaton Vorse Papers
Processed by BF.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA