[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:RAD.SCHL:sch00579View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement

On July 1, 2018, OASIS will retire. It will be replaced by HOLLIS for Archival Discovery. Please explore.

Flexner, Eleanor, 1908-1995. Papers of Eleanor Flexner, 1895?-1995: 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.: 73-65--89-M152
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Eleanor Flexner, 1908-1995
Title: Papers, of Eleanor Flexner 1895?-1995
Date(s): 1895?-1995
Quantity: 1.21 linear feet (1 carton, 1/2 file box) plus 1 photograph folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 oversize scrapbook)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Memoir, interview transcripts, correspondence, unpublished writings, etc., of Eleanor Flexner, women's historian and author.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 73-65, 83-M68, 83-M108, 83-M153, 83-M156, 83-M159, 84-M127, 84-M130, 84-M203, 85-M97, 87-M63, 89-M152
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Eleanor Flexner,Jean F. Lewinson (Eleanor Flexner's sister), and Jacqueline Van Voris, between May 1973 and August 1989.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1995
By: Anne Engelhart

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Eleanor Flexner is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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 Flexner. Papers, 1895?-1995; item description, dates. 73-65--89-M152, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


The following items have been discarded from the collection in December 1995:


Author and historian Eleanor Flexner was born in New York City on October 4, 1908, the daughter of Abraham and Anne (Crawford) Flexner. Her father, a prominent author and education reformer, was instrumental in the founding of the Lincoln School at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University; her mother, a playwright, was especially noted for her dramatization of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. Flexner attended Lincoln School, which was one of the outstanding progressive schools of the time. After graduating from Swarthmore College with high honors in English and history in 1930, she attended Somerville College at Oxford University for one year. Back in the United States, she held a series of promotional and editorial positions in the theater and with the Institute of Propaganda Analysis, the Foreign Policy Association, and Hadassah. In 1938 she published a book of dramatic criticism entitled American Playwrights, 1918-1938, and in 1957 moved from New York to Northampton, Massachusetts.
Her classic account of the "first wave" of American feminism, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, was published in 1959; it was based on a pamphlet she had published in 1954. "The story," she said in her original preface, "deserves telling"; Century of Struggle was notable in demonstrating that the topic was worthy of serious scholarly and analytical study. Flexner was particularly prescient in her use of race, gender, and class in interpreting the struggle for women's equality. Her analysis was a source of inspiration for "second wave" feminists and laid the groundwork for subsequent generations of women's history scholars.
A consultant to the three-volume Notable American Women, 1607-1950, Flexner wrote a dozen biographies for Notable American Women, including those of Leonora Barry, Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, Anna Howard Shaw, Antoinette Shuler, Maria Stewart, Augusta Troup, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Maud Younger. Other publications included Woman's Rights: Unfinished Business (1971) and Mary Wollstonecraft: A Biography (1972). Flexner was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Swarthmore College in 1974. With her health failing, and following the death of her companion, Helen Terry, Flexner moved from Northampton to a retirement community in Westboro, Massachusetts. She died on March 25, 1995, in Worcester, Massachusetts.


Biographical and personal papers include a journal kept by Anne (Crawford) Flexner, birth certificates, clippings by and about Eleanor Flexner, photographs, a memoir, interview transcripts, and correspondence with her sister, Jean F. Lewinson, her friend Helen Terry, and others. Also included are unpublished writings, mostly fictional; notes and essays about religious matters; chapters, bibliographies, and essays on labor, women, and African-American women by Flexner, some prepared for the Jefferson School of Social Science; published prefaces and reviews; speeches and papers delivered by Flexner; for Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, the original pamphlet, early outlines, and various editions in other languages; and research material for Century of Struggle and Notable American Women, 1607-1950.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

African American women--United States
Manuscripts for publication
Mormon women--United States
Notable american women
Oral histories
Women and religion--United States
Women labor union members--United States
Women--Suffrage--United States
Women--United States--History
Working class women--United States
Aptheker, Herbert, 1915-2003
Barry, Leonora Marie Kearney, 1849-1930
DuBois, Ellen Carol, 1947- interviewer
Duster, Alfreda
Flexner, Abraham, 1866-1959
Flexner, Anne Crawford, 1874-1955
Flexner, Eleanor, 1908-1995. Century of struggle: the woman's rights movement in the United States
Jefferson School of Social Science (New York, N.Y.)
Lasser, Carol
Lewinson, Jean F.
Luscomb, Florence, 1887-1985
Merk, Lois Bannister
O'Sullivan, Mary Kenney, 1864-1943
Pollitzer, Anita, 1894-1975
Shuler, Nettie Rogers, 1862-1939
Stegner, Wallace, 1909-1993
Stewart, Maria W., 1803-1879
Terry, Helen
Troup, Augusta Lewis, 1848-1920
Van Voris, Jacqueline, interviewer
Wells-Barnett, Ida B., 1862-1931
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797
Younger, Maud