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MC 391

Coit, Eleanor G.. Papers of Eleanor G. Coit, 1894-1971: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 391
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Eleanor G. Coit
Title: Papers of Eleanor G. Coit, 1894-1971
Date(s): 1894-1971
Quantity: 1.67 linear feet (4 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, etc., of Eleanor G. Coit, labor education expert.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 79-M309
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library in May 1979 by Bert Hansen.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 1989
By: Jane S. Knowles

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Eleanor G. Coit as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Eleanor G. Coit Papers, 1894-1971; item description, dates. MC 391, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Eleanor Gwinnell Coit, labor education expert, was the daughter of Emma Gwinnell and Henry Coit, M.D., and was born in Newark, New Jersey, on May 6, 1894. She received an A.B. (1916) from Smith College and an A.M. (1919) from Columbia University.
Coit was Industrial Secretary of the New Jersey branches of the Young Women's Christian Association at Newark (1916-1917), and Orange (1917-1919), General Secretary at Bayonne (1919-1921), and Industrial Secretary of the YWCA at Buffalo, New York (1922-1925). From 1926 until 1928 she was Industrial Secretary of the National YWCA in New York City. In 1928 Coit was appointed director of the Educational Department, the research arm of the Affiliated Schools for Women Workers in Industry (known later as the Affiliated Schools for Workers, 1929-1938, and the American Labor Education Service, 1938-1962). She was responsible for research in workers' education and for coordinating summer schools for workers.
In 1934 Coit succeeded Hilda Worthington Smith as director of American Labor Education Service and retained this post until 1962, when the organization was disbanded. In 1935 she was awarded an American Scandinavian Fellowship and visited labor education programs in Sweden, Denmark, and England. During the late 1930s, she helped to establish workers' education programs in 75 different localities under the Works Progress Administration. From 1938, she worked with education directors of AFL-CIO unions to sponsor joint union/American Labor Education Service education programs and conferences; beginning in 1952 these programs increasingly focussed on the United Nations and the involvement of labor in international affairs. American Labor Education Service also fostered international exchanges of workers and arranged visits of foreign union members. At American Labor Education Service, Coit drew on the expertise of a network of reform-minded women that included academic social scientists and former YWCA industrial and executive secretaries (including Marie Algor, Ernestine Friedmann, Alice Shoemaker, Amy Bruce, and Louise McLaren). These women directed summer schools, established workers' education programs, carried out research and field work, and ran seminars and conferences. Their years of cooperative work resulted in lasting friendships.
After retirement, Coit remained active in the Council of National Organizations for Adult Education, in church, labor, and social work associations. She died in 1976.


This collection has been arranged in two series:
Series I, Personal, 1-73, includes photographs of family and friends, information about family history, and letters from co-workers in the YWCA, American Labor Education Service, and the workers' education movement here and abroad. The letters from friends demonstrate the close personal ties that developed among the women involved in the YWCA and labor education movement, and complement the official records of American Labor Education Service and the summer schools for workers that are in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the School of Industrial Relations of Cornell University and other repositories. Additionally there are Coit's personal medical, financial and other business papers.
Series II, Professional, 74-88, provides information about Coit's early career in the YWCA, includes tributes from colleagues worldwide at the time of her retirement from American Labor Education Service (1962), and documents Coit's post-retirement activities.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Adult education--United States
Buffalo (N.Y.)--Race relations
Friendship--United States
Race relations
Working class--Education--United States
Algor, Marie
American Labor Education Service
Anderson, Eleanor Copenhaver, -1985
Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964
Bruce, Amy
Carner, Lucy Perkins, 1886-1983
Chadwick, Halo
Council of National Organizations for Adult Education
Friedman, Ernestine L., 1885-1973
Kohn, Lucile
McLaren, Louise Leonard
MacKay, Olive
Myrdal, Alva, 1902-1986
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
Pell, Orlie, 1900-1975
Shoemaker, Alice
Simms, Florence, 1873-1923
Smith, Hilda Worthington
Swett, Marjorie Paret, -1925
United Neighborhood Houses of New York.
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A.
Young Women's Christian Association of Bayonne (N.J.)
Young Women's Christian Association of Buffalo (N.Y.)
Young Women's Christian Association of Newark (N.J.)
Young Women's Christian Association of Orange (N.J.)