Scope and Contents
Twenty-two scrapbooks of correspondence of Josiah Woodward Leeds with persons involved in the social reform movements of the late 19th century as well as clippings from newspapers, periodicals and journals of articles and editorials written by Leeds and articles on topics of interest to him.
Correspondence (ca. 2,000 letters) relates to his reform activities and includes letters from John Bellows, George Dana Boardman, Gertrude Whittier Cartland, Anthony Comstock, Wilbur F. Crafts, John H. Dillingham, Neal Dow, Elizabeth E. Flagg, Anna A. Gordon, William Torrey Harris, Herman Haupt, Alfred H. Love, Thomas Meehan, Clement B. Penrose, Jonathan E. Rhoads, Theodore Roosevelt, George J. Scattergood, Isaac Sharpless, Clarkson Sheppard, Hannah Whitall Smith, William Tallack, William P. Townsend, Benjamin Franklin Trueblood, John Wanamaker, Herbert Welsh, John Greenleaf Whittier, Frances E. Willard, Julia McNair Wright and others.
Tracts written by Leeds are also to be found in these books. Leeds's scrapbooks reflect his views on what waswrong with society at the end of the 19th century. The topics represented in the scrapbooks cover a wide variety of "vices" and their proposed remedies.
Some areas of interest to Leeds included temperance work, peace, crime, prison reform and the abolition of the death penalty, plain attire, John Wycliffe, simplicity of worship and legislation to control "vice."
He was also a crusader for "social purity" and some of the areas he saw danger in included the following: novels and other "pernicious literature," "immoral" post cards, posters and handbills, the theater, ballet and opera, "wild west shows" and their relationship to Native Americans, paintings and statues, all forms of gambling (especially lotteries, horse-racing, contests and card games), the use of "charity balls" as fund-raisers and the propriety of accepting "tainted" money for charity work, college football, bicycle riding, boxing, tobacco, secret societies (especially the Masons, Elks and fraternities) and the glorification of the military (especially with young people as in military exercises at West Point and the formation of organized "boys' brigades").