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L. Hollingsworth Wood papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1175

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports, lists, press releases, transcripts, notes, photographs, clippings, drafts of articles and speeches, financial and legal papers, brochures, pamphlets and other printed items, account books and other papers. Primarily correspondence and other papers related to the many activities Wood was involved in.

The collection documents Wood's involvement in various charitable and educational organizations. Wood was frequently on the board of these organizations, and frequently involved with the financial aspects of the organization. Organizations within the collection are in alphabetical order, with information on each organization provided at the series level. The materials found here represent many of the major issues of the early 20th century.

Wood's correspondents included Jane Addams, Roger N. Baldwin, Ruth Standish Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Hollis B. Frissell, Luther H. Gulick, George Edmund Haynes, Eugene Kinckle Jones, Fayette A. McKenzie, Robert R. Moton, Norman Thomas, Oswald Garrison Villard, Booker T. Washington, Margaret Washington and Carter G. Woodson, as well as many prominent Friends, including Joseph Allen Baker [Quaker?], Joshua L. Barton, Raymond Binford, Gilbert Bowles, Phillips Bradley, Henry J. Cadbury, Francis R. Cope, James G. Douglas, Anna Griscom Elkinton, J. Passmore Elkinton, John T. Emlen, Lewis Lyndon Hobbs, Allen D. Hole, William I. Hull, Rufus M. Jones, Thomas Elsa Jones, S. Edgar Nicholson, Elbert Russell, Alfred G. Scattergood, Anna Braithwaite Thomas, Wilbur K. Thomas, Benjamin F. Trueblood, George A. Walton, J. Barnard Walton, Gilbert White, Carolena M. Wood, Walter C. Woodward, Stanley R. Yarnall and many others.


  • Creation: 1903-1953


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical / Historical

Levi Hollingsworth Wood was born August 14, 1873 at Mt. Kisco, N.Y., the son of James and Emily (Hollingsworth) Wood. His sister was Carolena M. Wood (1871-­1936). He was a graduate of Haverford College (1892­-1896) and Columbia University Law School (1896-­1899). He practiced law in New York City at the firm Kirby & Wood). In 1915 he married Helen Underhill, who died Jan. 30, 1924. They had one son, James Wood. Wood later married Martha Speakman (d. 1977). Wood died July 21, 1956, at Mt. Kisco, N.Y., at the age of eighty­-two. For much of his life, L. Hollingsworth Wood worked actively in the areas of peace, civil rights, African American education, and Quaker education.

A partial list of organizations and committees which Wood began work with before 1920 includes Young Friends, Hope Day Nursery for Colored Children, New York Colored Mission, Joint Committee on Peace of the two New York Yearly Meetings, Penn School (St. Helena Island, S.C.), Central Bureau of Colored Fresh Air Agencies, North American Civic League for Immigrants, National League for the Protection of Colored Women, National Urban League, Whittier Fellowship Guest House, Five Years Meeting, Camp Fire Girls, Peace Association of Friends in America, American League to Limit Armaments, American Union Against Militarism, Friends Ambulance Unit, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and Fisk University.

Wood was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee, and the National Urban League. In addition, he served as president of the Urban League for 26 years. In 1917 Wood was elected to the Board of Trustees of Fisk University and was vice chairman of the Board at the time of his death in 1956. He was a member of the Board of Managers of Haverford College for over forty years.

During the years prior to America's entrance into WWI, Wood was part of an active group of pacifists seeking to counter the growing military spirit sweeping the country. The American League to Limit Armaments and its successor, the American Union Against Militarism were direct forerunners of the ACLU. In 1920 Wood was elected a member of the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland, which held hearings to investigate the escalating conflict between England and Ireland. A member of the Board of the International Rescue Committee, Wood served as chairman in the 1940s and 1950s.

Wood was also very active in Quaker concerns, especially in the areas of peace, Friends education, and in promoting cooperation between Friends of different backgrounds and branches. He was the American correspondent to the London Friend and a member of the Peace Association of Friends in America. Wood was a guiding force behind the Joint Committee on Peace of the two New York Yearly Meetings, which sponsored a Peace Conference of all branches of Friends in 1910. The Joint Peace Committee of the Associated American Yearly Meetings was a direct result of this conference.

Wood was also very active in the Young Friends movement and with Five Years Meeting, helping to organize the latter's Meeting of 1917. He served on committees planning the Friends World Conferences of 1920 and 1937. Wood was also clerk of New York Yearly Meeting from 1926­-1931.

Sources for above: Dictionary of Quaker Biography; NY Times obit. July 23, 1956; LHW papers; "The National Urban League, 1910­1940" by Nancy J. Weiss (New York : Oxford University Press, 1974) [E185.5.N33 W44]; "In defense of American liberties: a history of the ACLU" by Samuel Walker (New York : Oxford University Press, 1990) [JC599.U5 W28 1990].


21.5 linear ft. (44 boxes, 1 volume)

Language of Materials



Primarily correspondence related to Wood's activities in areas of peace, civil rights, African American education, and Quaker education. Wood was founding member of American Civil Liberties Union, American Friends Service Committee, and National Urban League. He was president of the Urban League for 26 years; elected in 1917 to Fisk University Board of Trustees; and a member of Haverford College Board of Managers. Correspondents include Jane Addams, Roger N. Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Rufus M. Jones, Thomas Elsa Jones, Oswald Garrison Villard, Booker T. Washington and many others.


Wood's papers are, for the most part, arranged according to his filing system. They are arranged alphabetically by organization, institution, committee, etc. Within each of the above, folders are generally arranged by type (correspondence, minutes, financial, etc.) and chronologically within each folder, generally with the most recent dates at the front of the folder. In most cases, correspondence files included both original incoming letters to Wood and copies of his outgoing letters filed together in one chronological series. This order has been preserved. In many cases, Wood has put related letters and papers together. This arrangement has been kept, and is indicated by the presence of folded paper strips as replacements for the original staples and paper clips.

Most folder titles are supplied from Wood's original folders (these appear in the finding aid within quotation marks). When a folder title was lacking, incomplete or inadequate, one has been supplied.

Related Materials

New York Colored Mission records, 1865­-1952 (MC 1173)

Separated Materials

A glass negative of a sequoia tree named "Haverford" has been removed to 812.

Processing Information

Original processing information unknown. Rehoused and updated October, 2021 by Ella Culton.

L. Hollingsworth Wood papers, 1903-1953
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • October, 2021: Reboxed and finding aid updated
  • June 2022: by Nathaniel Rehm-Daly, Harmful Language Revision Project

Find It at the Library

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