[Philadelphia]: 1900-1915. Collection of a total of 285 manuscript and typescript pages of prose, poetry, and dramatic material written and edited by suffragist Sarah Dickson Lowrie (1870-1957). Lowrie, a columnist and editor at the Philadelphia Public Ledger, was also an activist. Founder of the Philadelphia Women's Committee, later Chairperson of the Philadelphia League of Women Voters, she used her public platform to promote equality for women and the working poor. An exceptional collection of material capturing the range of Lowrie's work as an author and editor, including three genres across a period of at least 15 years.
Autograph Manuscript including 5 published and unpublished works (202 pages dated 1900-1903)
Bound in half sheep over pebbled cloth measuring 7 x 8 inches and dated 1900-1903. The gift inscription in Lowrie's hand on the front endpaper, "Mabel Norris Stewart, April 1900," suggests that the notebook was a gift from her sister, a major supporter of Sarah's career. Indeed, the bulk of the manuscript documents Lowrie's composition and heavy revision of her story David the Hero, from May 1900-August 1902 (pages 1-35, 59-175) with headings and notes for each section regarding dates of completion. The final entry states: "Finished these tales August 26, 1902 - and dedicated them to Mary Mabel Norris Stewart with all my heart. Published Easter 1903."
Interspersed within the notebook are other pieces of work by Lowrie. which appear to be unpublished. St. John of the Wilderness (pages 35-56) is dated January-February 1901. The poem Away from You (pages 57-58) is dated February 25, 1901 and is accompanied by an original sketch. A story Peter the Fisherman (pages 176-194) is dated August 25, 1903. And the final piece, dated November 25, 1903 is on the death of her father (pages 195-202) and appears to include a family history as well as a tribute to the man. Tucked loosely within the volume is a letter to Sarah from another female author, identified only as J.S.C., regarding a short story. Also loosely inserted is a 1 page Autograph Poem unsigned in Lowrie's hand with content that ties together authorship and sex: "...Take my ovary Let me go Unapproached by further woe; But if you want What matters next, Take o take my Appendix." Together, the group shows her writing process, and her ability to work on multiple projects during a highly creative period. Further research could link together the works based on religious themes, Lowrie's work in activism and journalism, and her own family's history.
Autograph Playscript Signed for Me-Too (16 pages dated 1915)
Unbound, but with a contemporary straight pin holding the upper left corner. Written fully in pencil, with Lowrie's notation that the play was "written on July 19th & played on August 26, 1915." What appears to largely be a fair copy of the two-act play, the manuscript does contain checklists and notes on the first page regarding materials and equipment needed for staging. The final page is detached and incomplete, but similarly contains scratch notes for the performance.
Typed Manuscript Unsigned and hand annotated for The Idol (52 pages undated)
Unbound, with loose pages measuring 8.5 x 11 inches. A short story -- possibly authored by Lowrie, but definitely edited and annotated in her hand. Here, the attention to detail and hands-on approach Lowrie takes are apparent. Meticulously corrected in type and in pencil, with extensive portions excised or changed, the typescript has also been cut apart and pasted back together throughout. The result is mispagination and the creation of a very new version of the original story.
Autograph Poem Unsigned (4 pages undated)
Tied with blue string at the header. Pages measuring 6.75 x 10.25 inches and cut unevenly. A largely fair copy, with one correction to the final line. Lowrie here tackles the themes of war, violence, and pacifism, asserting women's place within them. "If I had been a pacifist 2000 years ago, I grant you I'd have been unique and ready for a show. For in those old bloody days men really did in truth Demand an eye for a lost eye and for a tooth a tooth...One thousand years ago indeed the world had changed in part; Men's fights were then adjusted - sometimes - by words in court...Now I've been watching how things change And how the old's reversed; I always like to look ahead, instead of last, be first." References to war and technology (including cars) suggest that the present poem post-dates WWI.
Typed Playscript Unsigned for The Flower Garden (8 pages undated)
Unbound but with two contemporary straightpins at the upper right corner. On legal paper measuring 8.5 x 12 inches. Annotated throughout in pencil with stage directions, casting notes, and revised lines. A play in one act, it does appear that the play was performed and the present manuscript was used in its unfolding. The rear page is annotated heavily with the names of various players, almost all women. Further research could definitely be conducted on those names, and on the potential performance.
Research opportunities abound for scholars, including but not limited to American community theater performances, the history of publication in women's magazines, the connection between literature and women's activism, themes in a pacifist suffragist's writing, methods of composition and annotation, and the work of Sarah Lowrie herself. (Item #3528)