Guide to the Catherine Wolfe Donohue Collection

Collection Title: Catherine Wolfe Donohue Collection
Dates: 1936-1957
Bulk Dates: 1936-1939
Identification: MS 113
Creator: Donohue, Catherine Wolfe, -1938
Extent: 1 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: Catherine Wolfe Donohue, who contracted radium poisoning while an employee of the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois, was part of the class action suit against the company. This collection consists of a scrapbook created by the Donohue family.
Note: Other Information:For information about holdings inquire at the McCormick Library reference desk.
Acquisition Information: Catherine Wolfe Donohue's family created a scrapbook of newspaper articles about radium poisoning and the suit brought against the Radium Dial Company of Ottawa, Illinois where Mrs. Donohue worked. Mary Carroll Cassidy, first cousin to Mary Jane Donohue, Catherine's daughter, arranged to donate the material to the McCormick Library of Special Collections on behalf of the entire family in 1992.
Processing Information: Updated by Sigrid Pohl Perry, February 1997.The original scrapbook containing the newspaper clippings was badly deteriorated, making use of the materials difficult. The scrapbook was disassembled and the pages with articles and clippings arranged chronologically into folders.
Conditions Governing Use: It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Inquiries should be directed to the Curator of the McCormick Library of Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Access: Materials must be examined in the McCormick Library reading room. Photocopying is restricted at the discretion of the McCormick Library staff due to the fragile nature of the scrapbook pages and newspaper clippings.
Preferred Citation: Catherine Wolfe Donohue Collection, Manuscript Series CXIII, Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University Library, Evanston, Illinois.
Repository: Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL,
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/spec
Email: special.collections@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3635

Biographical/Historical Information

Catherine Wolfe Donohue was a victim of radium poisoning which she contracted while employed at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois as a watch painter. She and other women who worked in the plant painting the luminous dials on watches brought a class action suit against the company. The Illinois Industrial Commission awarded them damages in 1938. It was one of the first cases in which the employer was made responsible for the health of a company's employees. The company's efforts to appeal the case through the Supreme Court system failed. The Donohue family created a scrapbook of newspaper articles and clippings describing the plight of the women and their efforts to get treatment and compensation. Most of the articles were published between 1936 and 1939, although a few appeared in 1946, 1954 and 1957. Catherine Wolfe Donohue died on July 27, 1938, soon after testifying before the Commission.

Scope and Content

Catherine Wolfe Donohue, who contracted radium poisoning while an employee of the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois, was part of the class action suit against the company. Damages were awarded to the women in 1938 by the Illinois Industrial Commission. This collection consists of a scrapbook created by the Donohue family with newspaper clippings about the plight of the women and their efforts to get treatment and compensation, some family photographs, publications from Argonne National Laboratory, articles about the case, and a letter from Donohue's cousin, Mary Carroll Cassidy.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Radium Dial Company

Personal Name

Donohue, Catherine Wolfe, -1938

Subjects

Occupational diseases

Radiation Effects

Radiation Injuries--history

Radium paint--Toxicology

Radium--poisoning

Watch dial painters--Diseases--United States--History


Container List / Contents

  • Letter from Mary Carroll Cassidy, January 18, 1992; 2 photographs of the Donohue family, ca. 1938, 1992Folder 1
  • Newspaper clippings, 1936-1937Folder 2
  • Newspaper clippings, February 1938Folder 3
  • Newspaper clippings, March-April 1938Folder 4
  • Newspaper clippings, June-November 1938Folder 5
      Note:  Catherine Wolfe Donohue died on July 27, 1938.
  • Newspaper clippings, 1939Folder 6
      Note:  Pages include letter to Tom Donohue from attorney Leonard J. Grossman, July 1, 1939.
  • Newspaper clippings, 1946, 1954, 1957, 1983Folder 7
      Note:  photocopies only
  • Argonne National Laboratory Information Packet, undatedFolder 8
    • Map with leafletsFolder 8, Item 1
        Note:  These items describe the facility and programs.
    • Argonne National LaboratoryFolder 8, Item 2
        Note:  (general booklet)
    • 101 Atomic Terms and What They MeanFolder 8, Item 3
    • Argonne Reactors/Argonaut CP-11AFolder 8, Item 4
    • Argonne's High-Speed ComputersFolder 8, Item 5