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Helene Stöcker Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-035

Scope and Contents

Stöcker materials in the Peace Collection came from several sources. The bulk was received after Dr. Stöcker's death from friends in charge of her affairs; this consisted of two large boxes and one suitcase, full of personal papers, books and periodicals. A large set of records, chiefly correspondence from 1940 to 1943, between Eva Wiegelmesser, secretary of the Women's International League Committee on Refugees and donors of funds to assist Dr. Stöcker was received in April 1952. More recent materials consist of photocopies of items from other archives and writings about Stöcker from other donors.

Many of Dr. Stöcker's papers, which were among belongings left in London, were subsequently destroyed in the bombing of that city during World War II.

The collection at Swarthmore consists of biographical material; a typed copy of Stöcker's unpublished autobiography, which includes her World War I diary; correspondence with friends and colleagues; pocket diaries and daybooks (1934, 1938-1940, and 1942); published and unpublished articles and reviews; and material about Helene Stöcker.


  • Creation: 1897-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1913-1943


Language of Materials

Materials are in English and German.

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access Note

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Copyright and Rights Information


Biographical Note

Dr. Helene Stöcker (1869-1943) was born in Elberfeld, Germany. She was one of the first woman students to enter a German University, and also studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Berne, receiving her doctorate in 1901.

Stöcker's social activism began in 1902 when she helped found Germany's first woman suffrage organization. Three years later Stöcker was the driving force behind the Bund für Mutterschutz (Protection of Motherhood). She served as chair of this organization until 1933. The Bund was founded to assist unwed mothers and their children. It ultimately provided a forum for debate on sexuality, contraception and abortion, as well as establishing reform of laws in favor of all mothers and children. Dr. Stöcker was editor and founder of the monthly magazine The New Generation, which she published from 1905 until 1933.

Stöcker was active in the German and international peace movement from the World War I period onward. She attended the International Congress of Women at The Hague in 1919 and other early congresses of the Women's International League. Stöcker belonged to several other peace organizations including the War Resisters' International , Bund Neues Vaterland (New Fatherland League), Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft (German Peace Society), and the International Peace Bureau. She was an associate of the Dr. Ludwig Quidde, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1927. Stöcker connected her work in pacifism with the work in sexual reform when Muttershutz added a pacifist plank to their platform calling for their supporters to work for "existing and flourishing life," and against brute force in war and the state.

Dr. Stöcker was driven out of Germany by the Nazis in 1933 and lived for periods in Switzerland, England, and Sweden. She immigrated to the United States in 1941, under the sponsorship of friends and colleagues in the peace movement, especially those in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She died in 1943 in New York City.

Books and pamphlets Stöcker wrote include: Leibe, Moderne Bevolkerungspolitik, Lieben oder Hassen, Krieg und Altruismus, Verkunder und Verwirklicher, Die Frau und die Heiligkeit des Lebens, Sexualpedagogik, Krieg und Mutterschutz, and Kriegsdienst Verweigerung.

Significant correspondents include: Gertrud Baer, Emily Greene Balch, Mary Ritter Beard, Fenner Brockway, Gertrude Bussey, Ruth Gage-Colby, Dorothy Detzer, Lida Gustave Heymann, Dr. Karen Horney, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Alexandra Kollontai, Frederick J. Libby, Lola Maverick Lloyd, A.J. Muste, Tracy D. Mygatt, Mildred Scott Olmsted, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Ludwig Quidde, Romain Rolland, Margaret Sanger, Rosika Schwimmer, Upton Sinclair, Agnes Smedley, and Bruno Springer.


4 Linear Feet (4 linear ft.)


Dr. Helene Stöcker (1869-1943) was one of the first woman students to enter a German University. In the 1920s she helped found Germany's first woman suffrage organization, and later the Bund für Mutterschutz (Protection of Motherhood). Dr. Stöcker immigrated to the United States in 1941 under the sponsorship of friends and colleagues in the peace movement.


This collection was completely reprocessed in August 2016 for better preservation techniques as well as a clearer arrangement of material. It is arranged by: - Biographical information - Correspondence - Financial records, and fundraising to help Stöcker in America - Writings, including Stöcker's unpublished autobiography. The parts of Stöcker's autobiography are filed here in date order (i.e., the date/s covered in each part); note that not all the chapters in Stöcker's outline exist. - Reference material

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Helene Stöcker, George Zueler, Ellen Starr Brinton, and others, 1944 (44-132), 1952, 1989

Related Materials

For related materials, search the library's online catalog

Separated Materials


Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 68.

Bibliographic References

Guide to Sources on Women in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, p. 25.

Legal Status

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by Peace Collection staff; minor reprocessing and finding aid by Andrew Ciampa and Wendy E.Chmielewski, June 2009; reprocessed fully by Anne Yoder, Archivist in August, 2016.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: The file list was standardized in Summer 2017 by Mary Olesnavich in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace. Elisabeth Miller added the notes in Fall 2017.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting reproductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

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