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Paulina T. Merritt papers on the Indiana Women's Suffrage Movement

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 108

Scope and Contents

The Paulina T. Merritt papers on the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Movement document Paulina Merritt’s activities pertaining to the suffrage movement in Indiana in the late 19th century.  It includes correspondence to elected officials, among them Senator Benjamin Harrison, concerning voting rights as well as correspondence with leaders in the women’s suffrage movement including May Wright Sewall. Also included in the collection is an autobiographical sketch of Merritt, as well as some clippings and advertisements. Also included are papers written by her husband, George Merritt.


  • 1860 - 1913
  • Majority of material found within 1880 - 1895


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Materials in this collection are in the public domain.

Biographical Information

Paulina T. Merritt was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia on August 8, 1831 to John and Hannah McClung. She married George Merritt in 1852, and they settled in Indianapolis, where George ran a wool manufacturing business. George and Paulina were both dedicated philanthropists and advocates in the Indianapolis community. Paulina invested her inheritance in order to improve conditions for those less fortunate, building "small cottages for friendless, suffering families" in 1864. She established a house for soldier’s orphans with her husband. She was an advocate for reforming insane asylums, and was instrumental in Sarah Oren's election to office as the first state librarian in Indiana. Paulina Merritt also donated property to the Indianapolis Colored Women's Mutual Society, to be used by those who were sick or elderly. Together with Eliza Goff, Merritt founded the Alpha Home for Aged Colored Women in 1886. The home housed aging women who had survived captivity, and opened to men in 1928. Merritt was a member of and frequent visitor for the Benevolent Society, and was active in securing equal rights for women throughout her adult years. Merritt died in 1921 in San Diego, California, but is interred in Indianapolis.


0.226 Cubic Feet (1 legal-size half-width manuscript box)


Correspondence has been grouped as “incoming” or “outgoing” and then arranged choronically.  Other materials have been grouped according to format or content. Materials are arranged into nine files:
  1. Incoming correspondence to Paulina T. Merritt
  2. Incoming correspondence to Paulina T. and George Merritt
  3. Outgoing correspondence from Paulina T. Merritt
  4. Letter to the son of Paulina T. Merritt from his aunt
  5. Manuscripts
  6. Circulars
  7. Character readings by Mada Paddock Sprague
  8. Biographical information on Paulina T. Merritt
  9. Information pertaining to George Merritt, particularly his involvement with parks in Indianapolis

Custodial History

These materials were made a gift to the University of Rochester’s Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation Department by Howard S. Merritt, date unknown. Having been outside of the collection scope at Rochester, the materials were transferred to Purdue by Manuscript Librarian, Lori Birrell.

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Lori Birrell, Manuscript Librarian at the Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester, on February 6, 2012.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of materials are available for research use. See our digital collections database e-Archives: Paulina T. Merritt papers on the Indiana Women's Suffrage Movement

Processing Information

All materials have been placed in archival housing.
Paulina T. Merritt papers on the Indiana Women's Suffrage Movement
Stephanie Schmitz
Description rules
Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third edition. Collection description was first completed 2012-09-03.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-07-31: Description updated to align with ASC standards for Archives Space
  • 2020-11-04: Data from pdf finding aid imported into resource record

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States