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Ellen Starr Brinton Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-051

Scope and Contents

The Ellen Starr Brinton papers consist of personal correspondence (1935-1953), travel journals and address books, as well as notes, manuscripts and typescripts of articles and related correspondence and subject files (1895-1980). Part of her correspondence focuses on Cuban-American relations (1935-1937). Other correspondence includes letters to and from Rosa Kulka, who was Chairman of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (German Group) of the Czechoslovakian branch in Brunn from 1924 to 1938. Kulka and her family were Jewish pacifists who tried unsuccessfully to come to the United States to escape persecution in Czechoslovakia. The correspondence includes Brinton's attempts to locate Kulka and her family after the war.

Topics of Brinton's research include the Daughters of the American Revolution, Elihu Burritt, Benjamin West's painting "Penn's Peace Treaty With the Indians," the Universal Peace Union, and Mexican-American relations; there is a card file of notes for a proposed biography of Jane Addams. Her notes and manuscripts for articles and books, and the manuscript draft ("Dreamer of Dreams") of her unpublished work on the American peace movement are also located in this collection.

Correspondents include Emily Greene Balch, Heloise Brainerd, Benny Cederfeld, A. Ruth Fry, Rosa Kulka, Paul Vanorden Shaw, Phyllis M. Tiller, Herminio Portell Vila, Elizabeth A. Wheeler, and Lyra Trueblood Wolkins, who contributed reminiscences about her father, Benjamin Trueblood.


  • Creation: 1895-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1933-1954


Language of Material

Materials are in English.

Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use


Biographical note

Ellen Starr Brinton (1886-1954), Quaker, feminist and internationalist, served as the first curator of the Jane Addams Peace Collection (later the Swarthmore College Peace Collection) from 1935 until her retirement in 1951.

During World War I, Ellen Brinton assisted with educational publicity work under the Food Administration in Philadelphia and also wrote for a newspaper there. She was a field representative in the Philadelphia office of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom during the 1920s and early 1930s. During this time Brinton was particularly interested in the political situation in Cuba and human rights violations there. She also worked with other WILPF representatives to establish ties with women's organizations in Latin America. When the Daughters of the American Revolution published attacks on WILPF in the 1920s, Brinton was one of the League members who wrote articles in rebuttal. She specifically addressed the DAR's color barrier in the admissions policy of their organization.

As first curator of the Peace Collection, Brinton established collection and arrangement policies for the WILPF papers and other material. Her various historical interests initiated several collections such as the peace seals, stamps, and covers collection and the material pertaining to Benjamin West's painting "William Penn's Treaty With the Indians." Brinton traveled to Europe before and after World War II to secure valuable peace records. During her 1937 trip to Europe, Brinton correctly assessed the growing political turmoil, especially in Germany, where she spent time with peace activists. During this trip she also met Rosa Kulka, a member of the Czechoslovakian WILPF. Brinton's attempts to assist Kulka, her sister and two nieces escape Nazi-occupied Europe are documented in these papers. Brinton's interest in the history of the American peace movement, Quakerism, international relations, and archival theory led her to write many articles on these and other topics.

After her retirement, Ellen Starr Brinton was one of the founders of a venture to promote interracial understanding which became the Media, Pennsylvania, Fellowship House. She died on July 2, 1954.


1.45 linear ft. (1,45 linear feet)


Ellen Starr Brinton (1886-1954), Quaker, feminist and internationalist, served as the first curator of the Jane Addams Peace Collection (later the Swarthmore College Peace Collection) from 1935 until her retirement in 1951.


The Ellen Starr Brinton papers were received from Elizabeth Wheeler, her cousin, in 1954. The material was in good order, apparently having been arranged by Brinton herself. A preliminary checklist was written in 1959. In 1992, the collection was fully processed, and a new checklist was made. Biographical material about Ellen Brinton was brought together and transferred to the beginning of the collection. She had arranged her material about her published works by subject rather than by title of the work, since she occasionally wrote more than one article about a subject. A new grouping, called archival topics, was created to bring together her writings on that subject, which had been scattered throughout the collection. She had also arranged her unpublished work by research topic: her folder headings were retained. Notebooks, journals, and a card file were placed at the end of the collection. Three stamp albums were removed to a separate area, but later these were disassembled and the pages placed into a box in this collection of papers. Box 1: Biographical information and correspondence Box 2: Writings and research Box 3: Writings and research (cont.) Box 4: Stamps/Seals/Envelopes collected

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers/records.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Elizabeth Wheeler (cousin of Ellen Starr Brinton), 1954 [Acc. 54-038].

Related Materials

Archives of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection (DG 000) Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records (DG 043

Separated Materials

Items removed: Photographs

Legal Status

Copyright to the resources created by Ellen Starr Brinton has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by Barbara Addison, September 1992; this version of finding aid by Wendy E. Chmielewski, July 2009; updated by Anne Yoder, Archivist, November 2014.

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

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