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Meredith Harless Papers 1925-1970


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Harless, Meredith (Florence Meredith Howard), 1909-1996.
Title: Meredith Harless Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1925-1970
Quantity: 21 Boxes (11.5 Linear Feet)
Abstract:The Meredith Harless Papers house correspondence, newspaper articles, photographs, and memorabilia documenting Harless' family life, social and charitable work, and professional broadcasting career.
Identification: MSS-167
Language: Material in English
Repository: Arizona State University Library. Greater Arizona Collection
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
Phone: (480) 965-4932
Questions? Ask An Archivist!

Biographical Note

Florence Meredith Howard was born to Samuel J. and Florence Howard in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on September 6, 1909. She was one of four children, including her twin, Virginia (Howard) Hayes (1909-1990); William (1911-); and Mary (Howard) de Liagre (1914-2009). In 1927, she and her twin sister tied for first place in the Miss Tulsa beauty pageant. A winning coin flip earned Meredith Howard a trip to the 1928 Miss America Pageant, where she finished as a runner-up. Howard went on to perform with the Ziegfeld Follies, where she worked with such stars as Eddie Cantor, Fred Astaire, and Ed Wynn, for five years.

Howard married Albert Russell Erskine, Jr. in January of 1934. She soon became disenchanted with her marriage and moved to Hollywood to work directly with Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios on public relations, advertising, and fashion in 1935. While at MGM, she continued to model with her sisters Virginia and Mary, who starred in several MGM films. Howard divorced her husband in November of 1937 and moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked in Crowell-Collier's advertising department and wrote two syndicated columns, "At Random" (under her own name) and "Selective Tuning" (under the name Jean Abbey). On November 28, 1948 Howard married Arizona Congressman Richard F. Harless.

With the outbreak of World War II, Harless concentrated on her writing and radio career with the Hecht Broadcasting Company. In 1940, she became the first woman to broadcast a presidential inauguration and the first woman to have her own radio commentary show, News and Personalities in the News. In addition to her broadcasting work, Harless volunteered with the Treasury Department to raise a total of $250 million dollars worth of war bonds and worked with the Civilian Defense Home Hospitality Committee, the Stage-Door Canteen, and the Russian War Relief Committee. She also helped to found the United Nations Club in December of 1941. With the participation of ambassadors from 58 countries, the United Nations Club became one of the major social organizations promoting the allied war effort and the United States' post-war charitable initiatives.

In 1948, Harless returned to Arizona support her husband's gubernatorial campaign. After working briefly for KTAR radio, she became the producer of CBS's "A Look Behind the News" and worked as a regular commentator. During the next several years, Harless wrote, produced, and starred in several radio and television programs for stations in the valley, including "Arizona Close-Ups" for NBC and "Arizona Caravan" for ABC, where she also worked as Public Relations Director. In 1951, Harless was honored with Arizona's Outstanding Woman award.

Harless continued to work in local Arizona broadcasting and participated in local charities like the Salvation Army (where she served as Vice President for the national organization) and Washington D.C. organizations including the Washington Fashion Group, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Business and Professional Women's Club. Although Harless was married and widowed twice after Richard Harless' death in 1970, she continued to use the Harless name professionally because she believed that it was the name that she was best known by. Meredith (Howard) Harless died on June 19, 1996 at the age of 87.

Scope and Content Note

The Meredith Harless Papers consist of 21 boxes of correspondence, newspaper articles, photographs, and memorabilia documenting Harless' family life, social and charitable work, and professional broadcasting career. The collection has been arranged in four series.

Series I: Personal (5 boxes) houses photographs, Meridith Howard's personal correspondence, personal papers, documents, and memorabilia showing the Howard family and social and family events.

Series II: Social Clubs & Volunteer Work (8 boxes) includes photographs, newsclippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and memorabilia documenting Meredith Harless' social and charitable activities. The bulk of this series documents the United Nations Club, which Harless founded in 1941. Also included are photographs, correspondence, and memorabilia regarding dozens of social organizations and volunteer events in Washington D.C. and Arizona, including the Washington Fashion Group, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the Stage-Door Canteen, and the Women's National Democratic Club.

Series III: Professional (7 boxes) is comprised of photographs, correspondence, documents, and memorabilia regarding Meredith Harless' career in show business, public relations, advertising, radio and television broadcasting, and real estate. The bulk of this series shows Harless' broadcasting career and includes scripts, interview questions and answers, publicity photographs, and correspondence with the several broadcasting organizations she worked with in Washington, D.C. and Arizona. Also included are photographs and memorabilia documenting her show business career, including autographed photographs from fellow members of the Ziegfeld Follies, newsclippings, and telegrams. Harless also collected materials showing her sisters, Virginia and Mary.

Series IV: Artifacts (1 box) houses books, a sash from the Miss Tulsa Beauty Pageant, invitations, and a jewelry box.


This collection consists of twenty-one boxes divided into four series:
Series I: Personal
Series II: Social Clubs and Volunteer Work
Series III: Professional
Series IV: Artifacts


Access Restrictions

To view this collection, make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932. Appointments in the Wurzburger Reading Room at Hayden Library (rm. 138) on the Tempe campus are available Monday through Friday. Check the ASU Library Hours page for current availability.


The Arizona Board of Regents retains copyright to this collection for and on behalf of the Arizona State University Library. Requests to publish, display, or redistribute information from this collection must be submitted via our online application.

Related Material

The Richard F. Harless Papers (MSS-166) house the personal, social, and professional papers Meridith Harless' husband.

Some materials were removed from the Meredith Harless Papers and placed in the Richard Harless Papers while others (photographs, correspondence, etc.) were kept with the Meredith Harless Papers in order to preserve their original context and physical state.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Harless, Meredith (Florence Meredith Howard), 1909-1996.
Hayes, Virginia (Virginia Howard), 1909-1990.
Mayer, Louis B. (Louis Burt) 1885-1957.
de Liagre, Mary (Mary Howard), 1913-2009.

Motion pictures -- United States.
Radio programs -- Arizona.
Radio programs -- United States.
Television programs -- Arizona.
United Nations.
Women -- Societies and clubs.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Meredith Harless Papers, MSS-167, Arizona State University Library.


Mary (Howard) de Liagre donated these papers to the Arizona Collection in 1997 (ACC #1997-01820).

Container List

Series I: Personal
11 Address Books, 1954
12 Autograph Book and Telephone Book, Undated
13 Bills, Telegrams, and Personal Correspondence, Undated
14 Christmas Cards, Personal Correspondence, Photographs, and Memorabilia, 1955
15 Family Photographs, 1930-1935
16 Family Photographs, 1930-1937
17 Family Photographs and Personal Correspondence, 1930-1937
18 Family Photographs, 1931, Undated
19 Family Photographs, 1948-1953
110 Family Photographs and Presidential Inauguration Invitation and Correspondence, 1953, Undated
21 Family Photographs, Undated
22 Family Photographs, Undated
23 Family Photographs, Undated
24 Family Photographs, Undated
24A Family Photographs, Undated
25 Family Photographs and Ephemera, Undated
26 Family Photographs, Undated
27 Family Photographs, Undated
28 Family Photographs, Undated
29 Family Photographs, Undated
210 Family Photographs, Undated
211 Family Photographs, Undated
212 Family Photograph, Undated
213 Family Photograph, Undated
214 Family Photograph, Undated
215 Family Photograph, Undated
216 Family Photograph, Undated
217 Family Snapshots and Personal Correspondence, 1927-1934
217A Family Snapshots and Personal Correspondence, 1927-1934
218 Family Snapshots, Undated (Removed from Scrapbook)
219 High School Memorabilia: Meredith Harless Notebooks, 1925-1927
220 J.R. Linksy Co. (Furs) Invoice, 1948
221 Legal Correspondence, 1938-1944
222 Life Insurance Policy, 1947
223 Madison Square Garden Event Program, 1933
223A Mary Howard: Personal Memorabilia and Newspaper Clippings, 1943
31 Mullin Prayer Books, 1925-1926
32 Miscellaneous Correspondence and Photographs, 1937-1955
33 Miscellaneous Photographs, Undated
34 Personal Correspondence, 1932-1937
34A Personal Correspondence, Telegrams, and Newsclippings, 1934-1937
35 Personal Correspondence, 1933-1956
36 Personal Correspondence, 1940-1948
37 Personal Correspondence, 1942-1943
38 Personal Correspondence, 1942
39 Personal and Social Correspondence, 1942-1943
310 Personal Correspondence Regarding Apartments: Rent, Renewals, Leases, etc., 1943-1949
311 Personal Correspondence, 1943
41 Personal Correspondence, 1943
42 Personal Correspondence and Travel Receipts, 1942-1946
43 Personal Correspondence Regarding Birthdays, 1946
44 Personal Correspondence, 1951-1955
45 Personal Correspondence and Newsclippings, 1955
46 Personal Correspondence, 1957
47 Personal Documents, Photographs, Bills, Event Ephemera, and Correspondence, 1953-1954
48 Personal Photographs, 1940-1970
49 Personal Photographs, Newsclippings, Correspondence, and Event Memorabilia, 1951-1952
410 Personal Publicity, 1938-1948 (Newsclippings)
411 Photograph: Meredith Harless at Social Event, Undated
412 Photograph: Meredith Harless and Unknown Person, Undated
413 Photographs: Meredith Harless at Miss Venus Beauty Contest, Undated
414 Playbills, 1933
415 Street Map and Newsclippings, 1957
416 Telegrams, Photographs, and Ephemera, 1927-1936
417 Unmarked Photograph, Undated
418 Unmarked Photograph, Undated
Series II: Social Clubs and Volunteer Work
51 Inaugural Committee: Photographs, Correspondence, and Documents, 1949
52 March of Dimes: Correspondence and Ephemera, 1949
53 Air Force Association: Report and Correspondence, 1945-1947
54 American Red Cross: Awards, Newsclippings, Memorabilia, and Correspondence, 1943-1948
55 American Red Cross, Arizona Fund Campaign Committee: Correspondence and Telegrams, 1948-1957
56 American Red Cross: Typed Note, 1957
57 American Red Cross, State Campaign Headquarters: Correspondence, 1957
58 American Red Cross: Event Photograph, Undated
59 American Red Cross and Democratic National Committee: Office of Women's Activities: Correspondence and Event Memorabilia, Undated
510 Arizona Press Club, League of Business and Professional Women, United Nations Club: Correspondence, Newsclippings and Memorabilia, and JFK Campaign Volunteer Photographs, 1949-1959
511 Aviation Club: Event Photographs, 1956
512 Beta Sigma Pi, Honorary Membership: Correspondence, Newsclippings and Memorabilia, 1946-1947
513 D.C. War Fund Drive and Hollywood Victory Committee: Newsclippings, 1942
513A FDR Birthday Dinner Committee: Correspondence, Ephemera, Radio Script, and Newsclippings, 1942-1943
514 The Last Man Club: Correspondence, 1942-1948
515 Miscellaneous Social Functions: Newsclippings, 1941-1942
516 Miscellaneous Music Scores, Undated
517 National Society of Music: Correspondence and Ephemera, 1946
518 National Symphony Orchestra Women's Committee, 1946-1948
519 Norfolk Chamber of Commerce: Volunteer Work, 1954
520 Phoenix Fine Arts Association: 5th Annual Gallery Ball Programs, 1955
521 Salvation Army Women's Emergency Aid Committee: Army-Navy Ball Program, 1930
61 Senator Estes Kefauver Election Volunteer: Correspondence and Newsclippings, 1952
62 Seven-Eleven Club: Invitations, Receipts, and Correspondence, 1942
63 Stage Door Canteen: Correspondence, Ephemera, Notes, and Receipts, 1942-1943
64 Unidentified Photograph, Undated
65 United Nations Club: Anniversary Programs, Photographs, and Newsclippings, 1947
65A United Nations Club and American Red Cross: Speeches, Correspondence, and Newsclipping, 1941-1943
66 United Nations Club: Correspondence, Memorabilia, and Newsclippings, 1942-1947
67 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1942-1945
68 United Nations Club: Correspondence to Marshall Adams, 1943-1945
69 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1942-1947
610 United Nations Club: Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1943-1944
611 United Nations Club and Advertising Club: Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1942-1948
612 United Nations Club: Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1948
613 United Nations Club: Correspondence and Ephemera, 1941-1948
614 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1945-1947
615 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1942-1946
616 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1946-1947
701 United Nations Club: Correspondence, 1947
72 United Nations Club: Correspondence, Photographs, and Memorabilia, 1948-1949
73 United Nations Club: Correspondence and Ephemera, 1946-1947
74 United Nations Club and Fashion Thrift Shop Annual Benefit: Correspondence, Reports, and Newsclippings, 1939-1949
75 United Nations Club Monthly Calendar, 1948-1950
76 United Nations Club Monthly Calendar and Correspondence, 1950-1951
77 United Nations Club: New Year's Eve Celebration Memorabilia, 1947
78 United Nations Club: Society Pages Newsclippings, 1949 (Photocopies)
79 Volunteer Work: Bruno Beran Art Exhibit Newsclippings, Correspondence, and Photographs, 1950
710 Women's Division, Washington, D.C. War Finance Committee Volunteer: Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1945-1946
711 Washington Fashion Group: Correspondence, Publications, Essays, and Memorabilia, 1943
81 Women's National Democratic Club: Correspondence, Newsclippings, Publications, and Memorabilia, 1942-1947
82 Women's National Democratic Club: War Bond Booth Committee: Correspondence and Receipts, 1942-1948
83 "Washington Party": Administrative Itinerary, Scrapbook with Photographs, and Newsclippings, 1951
84 "Washington Party" Scrapbook Photographs, Undated
85 "Washington Party" Scrapbook Photographs, Undated
86 "Washington Party" Scrapbook Photographs, Undated
87 "Washington Party" Scrapbook Photographs, Undated
88 War Powers Board: Paper Conservation Volunteer, 1942-1949
89 Washington World Affairs Center Volunteer Work: Correspondence, 1948-1949
810 Ziegfeld Club: Correspondence, 1941
9/OV1 United Nations Club Scrapbook: Memorabilia and Newsclippings, 1942-1943
10/OV1 United Nations Club Scrapbook: Memorabilia and Newsclippings, 1946
11/OV1 United Nations Club Scrapbook: Memorabilia and Newsclippings, 1947
12/OV1 United Nations Club Scrapbook: Memorabilia and Newsclippings, 1949
Series III: Professional
131 Address Cardfile, 1950
132 Army Nurse Corps Radio Promotion: Correspondence and Ephemera, 1941-1947
133 Buchanan and Company Advertising, Pan American Coffee Bureau Account: Correspondence and Expense Reports, 1941-1942
134 Classified Ads: Meredith Howard Harless Realtors and Miscellaneous Ephemera, 1955 (Photocopies)
135 Elmo Cosmetics Ad Campaign: Radio and Print Ads and Correspondence, 1938-1942
136 "Facts Forum with Dan Smoot": Publicity Photographs and Newsclippings, Undated
137 "Facts Forum with Dan Smoot": Publicity Photographs and Newsclippings, Undated
138 "Facts Forum with Dan Smoot": Photographs of Panelists and Correspondence, Undated
139 "Facts Forum with Dan Smoot": Photographs of Panelists and Correspondence, Undated
1310 Garfinckel Victory Luncheon Radio Program: Expense Reports and Correspondence, 1942
1311 General Ramie Company, Havana, Cuba: Contracts, Financial Statements, and Letters of Agreement, 1942
1312 Hecht Co. Radio Program: Expense Reports and Correspondence, 1941
1313 "Hold Your Man" and B. McFadden Radio Shows: Scripts, Correspondence, and Ephemera, 1939, Undated
1314 "It's a Date" Radio Show Scripts, Undated
1315 KPHO Public Relations: Correspondence, 1950
1316 KPHO Public Relations: Memoranda, Correspondence, and Promotional Photographs, 1950, Undated
1317 "Marching Along Together" Radio Show: Scripts, 1942
1318 "Meredith Howard's Washington Luncheon" Radio Program: Scripts and Interviews, 1942
1319 Meredith Howard Harless: Realtor License and Miscellaneous Ephemera, 1955
1401 Miscellaneous Professional: Business Correspondence, 1947-1948
1401A Miscellaneous Newsclippings: Meredith Howard Modeling and Professional News, 1935-1946
142 Miscellaneous Professional: Sterling Advertising Agency, MGM Press Release, and Print Ad Negative, 1942, Undated
143 Miscellaneous KPHO: Correspondence, Interview Notes, and Memorabilia, 1950
144 National Federation of Press Women: 29th Annual Convention Event Program, 1965
145 "News and Personalities in the News": Radio Interviews, 1942
146 North American Finance Company: Comparative Statements and Balance Sheets, 1957
147 Photograph: Meredith Howard and WJSV Radio, Undated
148 Photographs: Scenes from Motion Pictures, Group Portraits, and Publicity Shots, 1938-1945
149 Photographs: Scenes from Motion Pictures, Group Portraits, and Publicity Shots, 1938-1945
1410 Photographs: Television and Radio Promotional Shots and Group Portraits, 1945, Undated
1411 Photographs: Television and Radio Promotional Shots and Group Portraits, 1945, Undated
1411A Public Relations and Radio: Correspondence and Scripts, 1941
1412 Promotional Photograph: Meredith Howard and WJSV Radio, Undated
1413 Radio Scripts, Undated
1414 Radio Scripts: Commercial, Shows, and Interviews, 1938-1940
151 Radio Scripts (Edited): "Washington Watch" and "News and Personalities in the News", 1941, Undated
152 Radio Shows: Scripts and Correspondence, Undated
153 Radio Merchandising Idea for Bloomingdale's: Rough Drafts and Edited Scripts, Undated
154 Shows Given: Interview Scripts (Edited) and Brochures, 1950
155 Tangee Radio Program: Scripts, Interviews and Correspondence, 1943
156 Telegrams: Meredith and Virginia Howard with the Ziegfeld Follies, 1929-1933
157 Telegrams: Meredith and Virginia Howard with the Ziegfeld Follies, 1929-1933
158 Unidentified Portrait: "Miller of Washington", Undated
159 U.S. Army Air Corps Mutual Network Radio Show: Photographs, Scripts, Correspondence, and Memorabilia, 1946
1510 "Washington Close-Up" Program Prospectus: Photographs and Biographical Information, Undated
1511 William Morris Agency Correspondence, 1944
1512 "Women of the Week" Radio Show: Scripts and Correspondence, 1941-1942
1512A World Wide Broadcasting Foundation W. S. Lemmon Correspondence, 1942-1943
1513 Ziegfeld Follies Autographed Photographs and Miscellaneous Events, Undated
161 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1927-1932
162 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1930-1931
163 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1928-1930
164 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1927-1932
165 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, Undated
166 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1930-1931
167 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1929-1931
168 Ziegfeld Follies and Beauty Pageant Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1929-1936
169 Ziegfeld Follies and Beauty Pageant Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, Undated
1610 Ziegfeld Follies Photographs: Autographed and Promotional, 1930-1932
17/OV1 Photographs: Radio Promotions and Model Proofs, Undated
18/OV1 Syndicated Articles, "At Random" by Meredith Howard and "Selective Tuning" by Jean Abbey [Meredith Howard], 1939-1940 (2 Scrapbooks)
19/OV1 Photograph Showing Eleanor Roosevelt, Edward G. Robinson, and James Cagney, Undated (Framed)
20/OV2 KTAR Radio Interviews, 1951 (5 16" Phonograph Records)
Series IV: Artifacts
21/OV1 Meredith Harless Personal Items, 1933, Undated