Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection – Now open for research

Guest post by Lindsay Sprechman

Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection

Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston is happy to announce that the Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection is now open and available for research. This collection documents Phyllis Harmon’s work in the bicycling community, especially her work with the League of American Wheelmen, a prominent bicycling organization.

The League of American Wheelmen was founded in 1880 to address bicyclists’ needs. In their early days, they advocated for bicyclists’ access to roads at a time when many laws and ordinances were written keeping them off the road. LAW was also instrumental in the Good Roads Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which advocated for improved road conditions. The League became inactive twice during periods from 1924 to 1939 and from 1955 to 1964, but reorganized in 1964 and still continues to advocate for bicyclists today. LAW was renamed the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in 1997.

League of American Wheelmen newsletter, June 1940

League of American Wheelmen newsletter, June 1940

Phyllis Harmon is known as the “Grande Dame of American Bicycling” for her work with LAW and other bicycling organizations. Harmon became a member of LAW in 1939 and served numerous roles in the organization, including treasurer, executive vice president, historian, office manager, executive director and honorary director. However, her most prominent position was her role as writer and editor of LAW’s magazine, LAW Bulletin. Harmon volunteered to publish the magazine from her home and edited it from 1939 to 1945 and again from 1964 until 1979. For her contribution to the bicycling world in Chicago and around the country, Harmon was inducted into the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2009.

This collection includes many of LAW’s organizational records, including Board meeting minutes, constitutions, by-laws, correspondence and memos. It also includes materials on LAW’s conventions and rallies, membership directories and surveys, collected research and articles about bicycling, and more than 30 years of issues of the LAW Bulletin, and its successor, Bicycle USA.

View the finding aid for this collection.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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