Vira Boarman Whitehouse

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Vira Boarman Whitehouse
Vira Boarman Whitehouse 1915 circa.png
Born Vira Boarman
(1875-09-16)September 16, 1875
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died April 11, 1957(1957-04-11) (aged 81)
New York City
Known for Suffragette
Spouse(s) James Norman de Rapelye Whitehouse
Children Alice Whitehouse Harjes
Parent(s) Robert Boarman
Cornelia Terrell

Vira Boarman Whitehouse (September 16, 1875 – April 11, 1957) was the owner of the Whitehouse Leather Company, a suffragette and early proponent of birth control.[1]


Vira Boarman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 16, 1875, to Robert Boarman and Cornelia Terrell.[1][2]

She attended Newcomb College in New Orleans. She married New York stockbroker James Norman de Rapelye Whitehouse (1858–1949), April 13, 1898. They had one child, Alice Whitehouse Harjes.[1]

She was chairman in 1913 of the publicity council of the Empire State Campaign Committee and in 1916 of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party (NYSWSP). She was a leader in securing suffrage for New York women in November 1917.

In 1918, she became director of the Swiss office of the Committee on Public Information, where she worked closely with Rosika Schwimmer, the Hungarian ambassador to Switzerland, and one of the first female ambassadors in the world.[3] Whitehouse reported her experiences in A Year as a Government Agent (1920).[4]

In 1921, she bought the Buchan-Murphy Manufacturing Company, a leather business, renamed it the Whitehouse Leather Products Company, Inc., and reorganized it with herself as president. She managed the company for eight years, reducing the work week from 48 hours to 44 hours, among other changes.[1]

In 1925, she was elected a member of the Democratic County Committee from Manhattan's 15th Assembly District.[1]

The following year, she became Chairman of the Independent Women's Committee for Judge Wagner.[5] She sold her leather company before the stock market crash of 1929.[1]

She died at her home in New York City, April 11, 1957.[1][6]


Her papers are archived at the Harvard University Library.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957". Retrieved 2010-07-24. Vira (Boarman) Whitehouse was born in Virginia on September 16, 1875, the daughter of Robert and Cornelia (Terrell) Boarman. Educated at Newcomb College in New Orleans, VBW married Norman de R. Whitehouse, a New York stockbroker, April 13, 1898. The couple had one child, Alice (Whitehouse) Harjes. ... 
  2. ^ Social register, New York. Social Register Association. p. 713. 
  3. ^ Tibor Grant, "Against All Odds: Vira B. Whitehouse and Rosika Schwimmer in Switzherland, 1918." American Studies International, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2002: 34-51
  4. ^ Manning, Martin J.; Romerstein, Herbert (November 30, 2004). Historical Dictionary of American Propaganda. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 319–20. ISBN 978-0313296055. Retrieved 2014-12-16. 
  5. ^ "She Sees Wadsworth Bringing the Party to 'the Brink of Ruin.'". The New York Times. October 20, 1926. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  6. ^ Berns, David (April 12, 1957). "Mrs. Whitehouse, Suffrage Leader. State Party Chairman Who Was Credited With Winning The Vote In 1917 Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-24. Mrs. Norman de R. Whitehouse, a leader in the woman's suffrage movement in New York State, died yesterday after a long illness in her home at 39 East Seventy-ninth Street. She was 82 years old. ... 

Further reading[edit]

  • Tibor Grant, "Against All Odds: Vira B. Whitehouse and Rosika Schwimmer in Switzherland, 1918." American Studies International, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2002: 34-51

External links[edit]