Born Julia Ward in New York City, she was the fourth of seven children born to Samuel Ward (May 1, 1786 – November 27, 1839) and Julia Rush Cutler. Among her siblings was Samuel Cutler Ward. Her father was a well-to-do banker. Her mother, granddaughter of William Greene (August 16, 1731 – November 30, 1809), Governor of Rhode Island and his wife Catharine Ray, died when Julia was five.
Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", set to William Steffe's already-existing music, was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.
In 1870 Howe was the first to proclaim Mother's Day, with her Mother's Day Proclamation.
After the war Howe focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women's suffrage. From 1872 to 1879, she assisted Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell in editing Woman's Journal.
From 1891 to 1909 she was interested in the cause of Russian freedom. Howe supported Russian emigre Stepniak-Kravchinskii and became the member of the Society of American Friends of Russian Freedom (SAFRF).
Howe died on October 17, 1910, at her home, Oak Glen, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, at the age of 91. Her death was caused by pneumonia. She is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On January 28, 1908, Howe became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Howe was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
She has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 15¢ Great Americans series postage stamp issued in 1987.
The Julia Ward Howe School of Excellence in Chicago's Austin community is named in her honor.
Her home in Rhode Island, Oak Glen, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
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Works and collections
- The Hermaphrodite. Incomplete, but probably composed between 1846 and 1847. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.
- Passion-Flowers. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854.
- Words for the Hour. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1857.
- From Sunset Ridge; Poems Old and New]]. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin & Co. 1898
- Later Lyrics. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: J. E. Tilton & company, 1866.
- At Sunset. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1910.
- Woman's work in America. New York: N. Holt and Co., 1891
- Reminiscences: 1819–1899. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1899.
- Julia Ward Howe and the woman suffrage movement: a selection from her speeches and essays. Boston. D. Estes, 1913.
- American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)
- Gardiner, Maine Howe's home for many years
- New England Women's Club
- Samuel Gridley and Julia Ward Howe House
- Representative women of New England. Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904.
- Richards, Laura Elizabeth. Julia Ward Howe, 1819–1910. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916. 2 vol.
- Clifford, Deborah Pickman. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Biography of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978.
- Wlliams, Gary. Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe. Amherst: U Massachusetts P, 1999.
- Richards, Laura E., and Maud Howe Elliott. Julia Ward Howe, 1819–1910, vol. I. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916.
- Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 71. ISBN 0-19-503186-5
- Works by Julia Ward Howe at Project Gutenberg
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Works and papers
- Howe Papers at Harvard University
- Articles by Howe Archive at "Making of America" project, Cornell University Library
- Poetry at Representative Poetry Online (University of Toronto)
- Mother's Day Proclamation (1870)
- Julia Ward Howe.org Electronic archive of Howe's life and works
- Finding Aid for the Julia Ward Howe Papers at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Julia Ward Howe, biography by Laura E. Richards, online at the University of Pennsylvania
- Biography Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography
- Julia Ward Howe at Answers.com
- National Women's Hall of Fame
- Plaque on the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. marking where Howe wrote the Hymn
- Welcome to Howe Elementary School at www.mtlsd.org
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