Anna Garlin Spencer Papers, 1830-1931
Collection: DG 034
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081-1399
Telephone: (610) 328-8557 (Curator)
Fax: (610) 328-8544
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Curator)
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Carpenter Garlin Spencer, Anna (1851 - 1931)
Anna Garlin Spencer Papers
Language of Materials
Materials in English
3.75 linear feet [papers only]
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.
Restrictions to Access
Alternate Form of Material
Yes, on microfilm reels 84.1-84.5
Gift of Dr. Valeria H. Parker [Literary executor], 1939
Checklist revised by Wendy E. Chmielewski, April 1998; finding aid prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone, August 2009
[Identification of item], in the Anna GArlin Spencer Papers (DG 034), Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law
Online Catalog Headings
These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online library/archival catalogs.
See tripod record
Hannah Clothier Hull Paers (DG 016)
National Council for Prevention of War Records (DG 023)
National Council of Women of the United States Collected Records (CDG-A)
New York Peace Society Records (DG 026)
Woman's Peace Party Records (DG 043)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section Records(DG 043)
Women's Peace Union Records (DG 044)
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.
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.
Arrangement of Collection
Detailed Description of the Collection
Box 1 Correspondence [box off-site] [Reel 84.1]
1860-1931, no date
Box 2 Manuscript Material [box off-site][Reel 84.2]
Manuscripts, no date (3 folders) [Reel 84.3]
Box 3 Typescript Material [box off-site]
Typescripts, signed, dated
Typescripts, signed, no date (3 folders)
Typescripts, no signature, dated
Typescripts, no signature, no date (2 folders)
Lecture outlines, dated and no date
Bibliographies and reading lists
Box 4 Printed Material [box off-site]
Articles and printed material, 1878-1911
Articles and printed material, 1912-1925
Articles and printed material, 1926-1930
Articles and printed material, no date
Article about Anna Garlin Spencer
Promotional Publicity, 1872-1915 [Reel 84.4]
Promotional Publicity, 1916-, no date
Box 5 Clippings and Bell Street Chapel [box off-site]
Clippings, (on both sides)
Clippings, no date
Bell Street Chapel material (including correspondence)
Bell Street Chapel, services
Box 6 Biographical material [box off-site]
Lists of books, articles, lectures
Admission and membership cards, passport, etc.
75th birthday celebration, 1926
Box 7 Family Material [box off-site]
Carpenter Correspondence, 1830-1900
Carpenter Family Clippings and Miscellaneous
Nancy M. Carpenter: Good Behavior Slips
Carpenter Genealogical Material
Garlin Correspondence, 1884- no date
Garlin Correspondence (Lucy Hale Garlin, 1854-1926)
Lucy Hale Garlin, Clippings and Programs, 1863- no date
Garlin Genealogical Material
Garlin Genealogical Material, 1839-1847 [Reel 84.5]
Spencer Family Clippings and Miscellaneous
Spencer Genealogical Material
Box 8 [box off-site]
Duplicate Materials (2 folders)
Non-Anna G. Spencer Correspondence
Non-Anna G. Spencer Clippings, Articles and Poetry
Susan B. Anthony Letter to Anna Howard Shaw
Box 9 William H. Spencer [box off-site]
Correspondence, 1869-1917, and no date
Printed Articles by and about William H. Spencer
Clippings, 1873-1916, incomplete and undated
Refile Box, [box on-site] [not filmed]
Article "Concerning Women" noting lecture by Anna Garlin Spencer and on reverse, "The American Woman's Debt to Emerson" report of that lecture, The Woman's Journal, No. 30, 1903
"For Monthly Memory of Charter Members of Rhode Island Short Story Club Fanny Purdy Palmer," privately printed booklet, compiled by Lucy Hale Garlin, includes song by her and short piece by Anna Garlin Spencer
“Echoes from the Dorr Rebellion: The 1842 Aplin/Carpenter Correspondence,” by John D. Tew in American Ancestors, Fall 2011 [Acc. 11A-076]
was last updated on
September 25, 2015.