Mildred T. Powell photograph and ephemera collection, circa 1904-1952  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Powell, Mildred T., 1886-
Mildred T. Powell photograph and ephemera collection
circa 1904-1952 (inclusive)
circa 1935-1952 (bulk)
92 photographic prints; 1 drawing (1 box) ; sizes vary
Collection Number
Photos document the civic and other activities of Mildred Towne Powell, Seattle city councilwoman
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Mildred Towne Powell was a Seattle area political activist and civic leader. She served as the only woman member of the Seattle City Council from 1935-1955, and is the second longest serving woman on the council. She was born on February 9, 1886, in New London, CT, to parents Walter Alanson Towne and Alice Nichols Warner. Following her graduation from New London's Williams Memorial High School (a public school for girls), Powell attended Wellesley College for one year before transferring to Smith College where she received a bachelor’s degree in 1908. She taught school in Connecticut and Massachusetts until 1910, when she married Francis Foster Powell and moved to Montana. In 1923, the Powell family--including children Francis, Jr., Alanson, and Alice--moved to Seattle. Powell was actively involved in the local community, including serving as the president of the Seattle Parent Teacher Association. After her husband died in 1934, she was urged by prominent leaders, among them Bertha Knight Landes, to run for the City Council. She ran as Mrs. F. F. Powell (in honor of her husband) and was elected in 1935. She was re-elected for her second term in 1938 with the highest number of votes of any candidate and was the third woman to ever sit on the City Council. She served in many positions on the Council including the Council President and acting Mayor of Seattle (three times).

At the end of WWII, she was chosen to represent the U.S. to lecture on municipal government in England and Germany. In 1950, she ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the First Congressional District. She was active in the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement, which was based on Christian ideals that promoted world peace and unity and opposed Communism. It was founded by Frank Buchman in the 1920s, was ecumenical in nature, and by the 1950s, encouraged the spread of the MRA ideology through the production of plays such as The Vanishing Island . At that time it maintained a popular international following and worked to stop the spread of Communism. In 1955, she was invited to join a peacemaking journey to 28 countries in Asia and the Middle East by the MRA. She encouraged Myrtle Edwards to fill her Council position. When Mildred resigned from the City Council, more than 40 organizations and leaders, including the Governor of Washington, praised her years of service on the Council. She continued to be active in the MRA for many more years until her health brought her home to Seattle, where she died on June 16, 1977.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains photographs of Mildred T. Powell as well as other civic and national leaders of her day, such as Mayor William F. Devin (Seattle mayor, 1942-1952), Raymond Allen, president of the University of Washington, and Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of president Franklin Roosevelt.

Photographs of Mildred Towne Powell's political activities on the city council, her unsuccessful run for a congressional seat, and her work on the MRA (Moral Re-Armament) movement that opposed Communisum. The collection also include views of her home in Laurelhurst that were made for the "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Series 1:  PortraitsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 1
Mildred Towne, high school graduation
Giles Bishop and Son, Conn. (photographer)
1 2
1 3
Drawing of Mildred Powell, possibly from a memorial service program
Mildred Powell photographs and campaign portraits

Series 2:  City Council ActivitiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
2 4 1952
2 5
Mildred Powell and Mayor Devin
Heib, Seattle (photographer)
2 6
  Seattle City Council
Heib, Seattle (photographer)
Robert Harlin, M.B. Mitchell, Clarence Massart, Mildred Powell, and Frank Laube are identified.
2 7
 City Council group, including Mildred Powell, Frank Laube, and M.B. Mitchell
Fred Carter, Seattle (photographer)
Powell, Laube, and Mitchell's city council terms overlapped during the period 1941-1954.
2 8
City Council group including Mildred Powell
Service Pin Awards
City Suggestion Award Plan

Series 3:  Other Civic ActivitiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
3 9-14 Summer, 1941
3 15 ca. 1935-1943
3 16 Dec. 10, [1948?]
3 17
Beryl Northcott from London, England (of British American Associates), and Mildred Powell, Seattle
Oct., 1951
3 18
Seattle Gas Company function with Mayor Devin, Henry Gellert, and Mildred Powell
Winter, 1952
3 19
Mildred Powell, Nancy Curtis, Frank McCaffrey, and Joy Lawson looking at "Out of the Frying Pan"
Positive Pictures, Washington D.C. (photographer)
3 20
Mildred visiting pilots
Associations and civic organizations
Parent Teacher Board for child welfare 1934, Seattle Council Founder's Day 1947, British American Associates 1949, and other organizations.
Mildred lecturing at Heidelberg University, Germany
Eleanor Roosevelt

Series 4:   Moral Re-ArmamentReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
3 21
Mildred Powell leaving for Moral Re-Armament civic conference in San Francisco
Newspaper clippings: MRA, Peter Howard

Series 5:  Mildred and Francis Powell, HomesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Montana Ranch
House: 4404 52nd NE, Laurelhurst
House: 4132 42nd Ave

Series 6:  MiscellaneousReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
1946, 1967

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • City councils--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Civic leaders--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Mayors--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
  • Women city council members--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Personal Names :
  • Devin, William F. (William Franklin), 1898-1982--Photographs
  • Powell, Mildred T., 1886- --Archives
  • Powell, Mildred T., 1886- --Photographs
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962--Photographs
  • Corporate Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.). City Council--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)--Politics and government--20th century--Photographs