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MC 771

Carr, Charlotte E. (Charlotte Elizabeth), 1890-1956. Papers of Charlotte E. Carr, ca.1900-1956 (inclusive): 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

Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Rosa Raisel Fund, the Class of 1958, and the Ardis B. James fund.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 771
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Charlotte E. (Charlotte Elizabeth) Carr, 1890-1956
Title: Papers of Charlotte, E. Carr, ca.1900-1956
Date(s): 1900-1956
Quantity: 2.17 linear feet (2 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ boxes, 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 11 photograph folders, 2 folio photograph folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, diaries, writings by and about, and other professional papers of social worker, welfare advocate, labor supporter, and first salaried head of Hull-House, Charlotte E. Carr.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 2007-M197
The papers of Charlotte E. Carr were given by William C. Clark in September 2007.

Processing Information:

Processed: January 2014
By: Marilyn Morgan, with assistance from Emily Underwood.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Charlotte E. Carr 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:

Charlotte E. Carr Papers, ca.1900-1956; item description, dates. MC 771, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donors: William Clark
Accession number: 2007-M197
Processed by: Marilyn Morgan
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:
The following items have been removed from the collection:


Born in Dayton, Ohio, on May 3, 1890, Charlotte Elizabeth Carr attended public school in Dayton and Miss Madiera's School in Washington, D.C. She earned a B.A. from Vassar College in 1915 and undertook post-graduate work at Columbia University. Following graduation Carr served as an investigator of the State Charities Aid in New York City (1915-1917). Beginning in the fall of 1917 she served for one year as a probation officer in New York City and also worked for the American Lithographic Company as an employment manager. Carr held similar management positions at Knox Hat Company in Brooklyn, New York (1918-1920), and Stark Mills, Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving as Placement Secretary of the American Association of Social Workers in New York City, she was appointed Assistant Director of the Bureau of Women in Industry of the New York Department of Labor (1923). Two years later she was appointed head of the Section of Women and Children in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and when this unit became a bureau, Carr was appointed its director.
In 1929, Carr became industrial consultant of the Charity Organization Society in New York City; she retained that title until Gifford Pinchot, governor of Pennsylvania asked her to accept the role of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry (1931). Within two years, despite accusations that Carr sympathized with laborers and supported strikes, Pinchot appointed her the first female Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry. During the Depression, Carr returned to New York City to direct the city's Emergency Relief Bureau. In 1937, she left the directorship Emergency Relief Bureau to accept an appointment as Director of Hull House, the settlement house started by Jane Addams in Chicago. Previously the position had been titled Head Resident of Hull House, thus Carr's appointment as Director marked the emergence of a new, more formal and corporate structure. In her role as Director, Carr ushered in changes that included replacing volunteers with paid workers and appointing professional staff to head each department. An outspoken Democrat and champion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Carr sought out skilled workers from the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration. In response to changing community needs, she created two new departments: the Community Service Department which initiated improvements in community housing, schools, and recreational facilities; and the Workers' Education Department which provided instruction in labor law and collective bargaining. Carr expressed particular concern that Hull House did not adequately accommodate the needs of African Americans who were entering the neighborhood in increasing numbers. To ameliorate this issue, she invited journalist and public housing advocate Dewey Jones and his wife Faith Jones to become Hull House residents. Carr's outspoken political liberalism conflicted directly with the political ideology expressed by the Hull House Board of Trustees. After a long period of disagreement, Carr resigned her post and left Hull House in January 1943. Perhaps in part owing to the close friendship she enjoyed with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, she returned to New York City and served as chair of the War Manpower Commission. In 1944 she was appointed the first Executive Director of the Citizens' Committee for Children, non-governmental organization formed in New York City with the goal of improving the quality of life for children in the city. She retired from that post in 1952. Carr died in July 1956, at the age of 66, of natural causes.


The collection is arranged in two series:


The papers of Charlotte E. Carr, social worker, welfare advocate, labor supporter, and first salaried head of Hull-House, include correspondence; address books; scrapbooks, diaries; reports and essays written by Carr; biographical clippings; financial records; and photographs and photograph albums documenting Carr's personal and professional life. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1908-1956 (#1.1-2.11), contains address books, diaries, clippings, correspondence, awards, financial records, notes, writings, and scrapbooks documenting the life of Charlotte E. Carr. Clippings pertain primarily to Carr's professional life. Address books contain professional contacts; awards include her appointment as the Secretary of Labor and Industry, an honorary Master of Arts, and an unsigned draft of a letter awarding her an honorary doctorate in human letters. Items of note include a diary (1909) kept while Carr attended Miss Madiera's School in Washington, D.C. The diary recounts Carr's daily social activities, school work, and participation in extracurricular activities such as basketball and dramatic plays. They also faithfully record the daily weather. Other items of interest include an undated diary that Carr kept while traveling in England and Scotland, observing the organization of trade unions in the United Kingdom, and Carr's personal correspondence with New York City Mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, with whom she enjoyed a close friendship. Two scrapbooks (1933-1935) documenting Carr's life were compiled by Effie Reimensnyder of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and given to Carr as gifts. Another scrapbook and clippings (found loose) document Carr's pioneering work at Hull House and the conflict that led to her resignation and return to New York City. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1900-ca.1950 (#PD.1v-PD.12), includes formal portraits of Carr, photograph albums of family and friends, and images of Carr's professional acquaintances. Items of note include platinum prints in scrapbook documenting Carr's adolescence; these illustrate student life at Miss Madiera's School in Washington, D.C., and Vassar College. Photographs in the two photograph albums presumably created by Carr include group portraits of the Miss Madeira's basketball team for which Carr played; Carr and friends camping, dressed in Halloween costumes, and performing outdoor yoga and dance. They also include group portraits and candid shots of costumed casts for plays in which Carr stared (as described in her diary); graduation from Vassar, family and friends, and participation in student protests. The vast majority of photographs (both in albums and found loose) do not identify individuals by name. The series contains a number of photographs found loose; these document Carr's professional work. They include a number of images of unidentified children dressed in uniform and their teachers (presumably taken at Hull House, in Pennsylvania, and in New York); Carr discussed her intention to photograph children in her correspondence with Fiorello La Guardia. Other loose photographs depict Carr delivering talks or at work in her office; formal portraits of Carr; and individuals, including Fiorello La Guardia and Eleanor Roosevelt with whom Carr may have worked. The series is arranged chronologically.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

New York (N.Y.)--Social conditions
Pennsylvania--Social conditions
Public officers--United States
Public welfare--United States
Social work with children--United States
Social work with immigrants--United States
Social workers--United States
Student activities--New York (State)--Poughkeepsie
Women social reformers--Illinois--Chicago
Women social reformers--New York
Women social reformers--Pennsylvania
Women social reformers--United States
Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.)
LaGuardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947
Pennsylvania. Department of Labor and Industry--Officials and employees
Vassar College. Class of 1915
Vassar College--Students