Anna Garlin Spencer Papers
Scope and Contents
The Anna Garlin Spencer Papers include correspondence, writings, biographical material, and family material. Spencer's correspondence with well-known woman's rights activists and peace workers may be found in Box 1. Writings by Spencer may be found in boxes 2-4. This includes manuscripts, typescripts and printed articles. Box 5 contains newspaper clippings about Spencer and her work. Material about Spencer's years at the Bell Street Chapel may also be found in box 5. Biographical material about Spencer is located in box 6. Material about William H. Spencer may be found in box 9.
Family genealogies, correspondence, and material about Carpenter and Garlin family member is located in box 7. Box 8 includes miscellaneous material, as well as undated writings and correspondence of Anna Garlin Spencer.
All this material has been microfilmed and is available on reels 84.1-84.5. The only material not filmed is the collection of newspaper clippings in box 5 and material received by the Peace Collection after filming was completed.
Significant correspondents, with information about other reformers, include Susan B. Anthony, Alice Stone Blackwell, Sarah Carpenter, Carrie Chapman Catt, Elizabeth Buffam Chace, Ednah D. Cheney, Frederick Douglass, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Nancy Carpenter Garlin, Lucy Hale Garlin, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Julia Ward Howe, Harriet Martineau, Lucia Ames Mead, Laura Puffer Morgan, Valeria H. Parker, Janet Pierson, Kate Pierson, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, and Lucy Stone.
Language of Materials
Materials are in English.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.
Copyright and Rights Information
Anna Carpenter Garlin Spencer (1851-1931) was a minister, feminist, educator, pacifist, and writer on ethics and social problems. Perhaps inspired by the examples of her abolitionist mother, Nancy Carpenter Garlin, and her aunt, Sarah Carpenter, a missionary who worked with homeless women, Anna Garlin Spencer dedicated her life to social reform. Spencer served as a religious leader in the Bell Street Chapel in Providence, a liberal, nondenominational ethical church, beginning in 1889. She was the first woman in Rhode Island to be ordained and served as the minister of the Bell Street Chapel from 1891 to 1902.
Anna Garlin was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1851, and spent her youth in that state and Rhode Island. In 1869 she began to write for the Providence Journal, as well as teach in the public schools. She remained a journalist until 1878 when she married the Reverend William H. Spencer, a Unitarian minister. From 1902 until her death, Spencer held a series of teaching posts as such institutions as the University of Wisconsin, the University of Chicago, and Teacher's College, Columbia University. She taught on issues of religion, aspects of marriage and the family, the role of women, sexuality, and philanthropy.
Spencer was active in the cause of women's rights for more than forty years. She was a friend of well-known feminists, including Susan B. Anthony, Ednah Cheney, Lucy Stone, and Valeria H. Parker. In the 1890's she served as the president of the Rhode Island Equal Suffrage Association. An early participant in the National Council of Women, Anna Garlin Spencer was president of that organization in 1920.
Spencer's interest in pacifism also led her to prominent positions in the cause of peace. She was on the executive committee of the National Peace and Arbitration Congress in 1907 and was a founding member of the Woman's Peace Party in 1915, serving as vice chairman. She also became the first chairman of the national board of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919.
Spencer died at her home in New York in 1931.
3.75 Linear Feet (3.75 linear ft.)
Anna Carpenter Garlin Spencer was a minister, feminist, educator, pacifist, and writer on ethics and social problems. Spencer was the first woman in Rhode Island to be ordained and served as the minister of the Bell Street Chapel from 1891 to 1902. Spencer was active in the cause of women's rights for more than forty years and served as the president of the Rhode Island Equal Suffrage Association. Spencer's interest in pacifism also led her to prominent positions with the National Peace and Arbitration Congress in 1907 and she was a founding member of the Woman's Peace Party in 1915, serving as vice chairman. She also became the first chairman of the national board of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. Spencer died at her home in New York in 1931.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Dr. Valeria H. Parker [Literary executor], 1939.
Existence and Location of Copies
This collection is available on microfilm (reels 84.1-84.5). Microfilm is available on-site by appointment and through interlibrary loan from the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
Photographs have been removed from this collection.
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
This checklist was revised by Wendy E. Chmielewski in April, 1998, and the finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi-Malone in August, 2009.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
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 Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library
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