Florence L. Sanville Papers

Collection Title: Florence L. Sanville Papers

Collection Number: Ms. Coll. 152

Dates of Collection: 1899-1965

Box Numbers: 1-2

RepositoryChester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA 19380

Language: English


Florence L. Sanville was born December 6, 1876 in New York City, New York to Frederick P. and Hannah Sevy Sanville.  The family moved to Bloomfield, N.J. and after graduating from high school, Sanville attended the Ethical Culture School of Felix Adler in New York for a two-year course in kindergarten teaching.  She attended BarnardCollege from 1899-1901 and was class president, as well as editor of the annual Barnard “Mortarboard.” 

She served as tenement house inspector in New York City for two years, and then came to Philadelphia as Secretary of the Consumers’ League of Eastern Pennsylvania.  In 1907, while with the Consumers’ League, she and Fanny T. Cochran set out to live and work among the silk mill workers of Pennsylvania mining towns.  In 1908, “With the Silk Mill Girls” – a pamphlet describing Sanville’s and Cochran’s experiences living as silk mill workers – was published in conjunction with The Consumers’ League.  By 1910, Sanville’s articles about her work caught the attention of Theodore Roosevelt, with whom she corresponded and for whom she acted as guide through Pennsylvania mining towns and factories. 

In addition to her fervor for workers’ rights, Sanville was also an advocate for women’s rights/suffrage and prison reform.  In her efforts for these causes, she served on the Pennsylvania Child Labor Committee, Women’s Trade Union League of Philadelphia, and Friends’ Social Order and Race Relations.  She was also Chairman of the Committee on Labor for the Conservation and Welfare of Workers, secretary of the Pennsylvania Committee on Penal Affairs, and member of the board of the Prison Society of Pennsylvania.  She served on the board of directors at Mancy Prison for Women, as well.

In 1967, at age 91, Sanville published a memoir, The Opening Door, which describes her experiences in activism.  Her articles have appeared in various publications, such as Harper’s BazarThe Outlook, the Public Ledger, and others.  Sanville, who was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, died in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1971 at the age of 95.

Sources:  Chester County Historical Society newspaper clippings files, Florence L. Sanville papers

Collections Scope:

This collection consists of published and unpublished writing of Florence L. Sanville, letters she received, articles about her and about topics in which she was interested, and her hand-written notes documenting the silk mills she studied.  It also contains biographical information written by and about Florence Sanville. 

Collection Arrangement:

Letters are arranged chronologically.  Published works are arranged chronologically.  If undated, they are arranged alphabetically.

Related Material:

Florence L. Sanville, Chester County Historical Society newspaper clippings files

Miscellaneous correspondence relating to her social activist career, including letters to Theodore Roosevelt, Vault

Photos, PF Sanville, Florence

Sanville, Florence L.  The Opening Door.  Philadelphia:  Franklin Publishing Company, 1967.  ChesterCounty Authors Collection

“Discussion.”  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.  Vol. 38, No. 1.  Risks in Modern Industry.  July 1911.  pp. 262-278.  Available on JSTOR

Collections Contents:

Box 1

Folder 1 Biographical Information (4 items)

Autobiographical notes written by Sanville; bio cut from Woman’s Who’s Who of America, 1914; letterhead, Fire Prevention Study; Consumers’ League farewell

Folder 2 (2 items)

Thesis on The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, BarnardCollege, 1901

Folder 3 (9 items)

Immediate reports after leaving silk mills

  1. Anecdotes; Weatherly
  2. Scranton
  3. Blakely
  4. Priceburg
  5. Hazelton; Lansforth
  6. Mauch Chunk
  7. Wyoming
  8. West Pittston; Freeland
  9. Gessup

Folder 4 (11 items)

Immediate reports after leaving silk mills; incl. envelope

  1. Pittston
  2. Dickson and Priceburg
  3. Remarks and Observations of Mill Conditions; Observations on General Conditions of Living, Etc.
  4. Wilkesbarre
  5. Pottsville, Avoca
  6. Wilkesbarre (4, 7)
  7. General Impressions, Pottsville
  8. Barbertown, Old Forge, Duryea
  9. Priceburg-Town, People, Family Life, Recreation
  10. Interviews- Scranton, Wilkesbarre, Hazelton (Freeland)

Folder 5 (18 items)

Letters, 1909-1941

  1. Letter from David A. Murro [sp?] of The North American Review, New York.  Re. inclusion of article in April issue. March 23, 1909. 
  2. Letter from R. D. Townsend of The Outlook.  Re. outline for article to be potentially included in The Outlook. Oct. 8, 1909. 
  3. Letter from William T. Creasy of Pennsylvania State Grange Patrons of Husbandry.  In praise of Public Ledger article “How Women of the Grange may Profit by Their Work”.  Dec. 21, 1916. 
  4. Letter from Joseph A. Willits of the Philadelphia Association for the Discussion of Employment Problems.  In praise of unnamed Public Ledger article.  April 12, 1917.
  5. Letter from Mrs. Franklin P. Iams (Lucy) of State Federation of Pennsylvania Women.  Discusses shared interested in prison reform; asks for suggested topics of discussion for meetings.  Sept. 12, 1922.
  6. Letter from [Thomas Kruegars?], Superintendent of Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, in praise of article.  Oct. 17, 1922.
  7. Letter from Henry H. Collins, Jr., President of A.M. Collins Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia, PA.  In praise of articles published in Public Ledger, especially those promoting anti-war ideas.  Nov. 10, 1922.
  8. Letter from A. Epstein of Old Age Pension Commission of the Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles, South Bend, Indiana.  In praise of Public Ledger articles concerning “Old Age Pensions”; request to meet in Philadelphia.  Nov. 22, 1922.
  9. Letter from Dr. Mary M. Wolfe, Superintendent of PennsylvaniaVillage, Laurelton, PA.  In praise of Public Ledger article on “mental defectives”; invitation to visit PennsylvaniaVillage.  Dec. 12, 1922.
  10. Letter from John B. Andrews of the American Association for Labor Legislation.  Congratulating Sanville for publication of article in Feb. 15 Survey; request for “inside information” on legislation.  Feb. 19, 1923.
  11. Letter from Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot.  Request for Sanville to become a member of the Board of Trustees of the State Industrial Home for Women.  Oct. 20, 1931.
  12. Letter from Paul Kellogg, Editor, Survey Associates (Survey Midmonthly and Survey Graphic).  Re. manuscript for article “Sublimation of the Missionary Spirit”, with editorial suggestions.  Nov. 8, 1939.
  13. Letter from Jacob Billikopf of the Labor Standards Association, Philadelphia, PA.  In praise of article “Quaker Power House” in Survey.  May 27, 1940.
  14. Letter from A. J. Muste of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, New York City.  Re. possible publication of article in Fellowship concerning “democracy” over totalitarianism.  Nov. 14, 1940.
  15. Letter from John Nevin Sayre of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, New York City. Re. publication of Sanville’s article in January Fellowship issue.  Dec. 27, 1940.
  16. Letter from Mr. Winfred Rhoades of The Boston Dispensary, Boston, Massachusetts.  In praise of article “Prelude to Victory” in Fellowship.  Jan. 8, 1941. 
  17. Letter from A. J. Muste of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, New York City. Includes quotation of a letter from Rev. Frederick W. Backmeyer, First Presbyterian Church, Gary, Indiana in praise of article “Prelude to Victory” in Fellowship.  Jan. 20, 1941.
  18. Letter from A. J. Muste of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, New York City.  Discussion of foreign policy issues to be addressed in potential article for Fellowship.  Feb. 24, 1941.

Folder 6  (33 items)

Newspaper articles written by Sanville, Public Ledger, not dated, alphabetized (photocopies to be used for research)

  1. “Argues Women Need Trade Union League”
  2. “Conditions of Labor Must Fit Social Needs”
  3. “Criticises [sic] Hotel Men for Blow at State Labor Act”
  4. “Details Plan of Trade Education for Girls”
  5. “Enactment of Eight Hour Day Law Urged by Women”
  6.  “Garment Workers Praise Settlement”
  7. “Grundy Argument on Child Labor Assailed”
  8. “Labor Exchanges Will Be Big Aid to Women”
  9. “Mrs. Robins Says Sex Hasn’t Time to Think”
  10. “PA. Women Have No Voice In National Trades League”
  11. “Points Out The Helplessness of Women Without Ballot”
  12. “Sees Strike as Blow Against Fire Perils”
  13. “Shows Need of Women Workers’ Organization”
  14. “Slurs Upon Women Workers Resented”
  15. “To Attack Working Methods at Arsenal”
  16. “Trade League Doing Much to Help Women”
  17. “Trade Union League Plans to Aid Women”
  18. “Unemployment Faced by Women As Well As Men”
  19. “Urges Fire Protection Campaign in Factories”
  20. “Want Woman Labor Bill Back for Hearing”
  21. “Woman’s Trade Union Opens Headquarters”
  22. “Woman Trade League for Wage Regulation”
  23. “Woman Union Leader Here to Enlist Girls”
  24. “Woman Will Work for Industrial Freedom”
  25. “Women’s Trade League Frames New Program”
  26. “Women’s Trade Union League Has Its Allies”
  27. “Women’s Trade Union League Makes Appeal”
  28. “Women’s Trade Union Movement Boosted”
  29. “Women’s Trade Union on a Firmer Basis”
  30. “Women’s Trade Unions to Join May Suffrage Parade”
  31. “Women’s Unions Can Aid Fir Protection”
  32. “WomenToilersUrgeState Advisory Board”
  33. “Women Workers Get into Suffrage Battle”

Folder 7  (26 items)

Newspaper articles written by Sanville, Public Ledger, 1914-1917 (photocopies to be used for research)

  1. “Woman’s Union to Aid Child Labor Reforms”  Nov. 22, 1914
  2. “Calls on Women to Aid in Training Girls”  Nov. 29, 1914
  3. “Urges Unity to Solve Problems of Women”  Jan. 16, 1915
  4. “Phila. Women Arrange to Join Trade Union League”  Jan. 30, 1915
  5. “Sees Serious Defects in Compensation Bill”  March 7, 1915
  6. “Trade Union’s Value to Workers Is Shown”  Oct. 10, 1915
  7. “Writing Chapter in Unionism by Women”  Dec. 12, 1915
  8. “Social Preparedness, Women Workers’ Plea”  Dec. 19, 1915
  9. “Factory Girls Free by Virtue of Trade Union”  Dec. 26, 1915
  10. “Union vs. Employers Question of Women”  Jan. 2, 1916
  11. Untitled, concerns eight-hour work day,  Jan. 4, 1916
  12. “Reply to Shirtwaist Workers Tomorrow”  Jan. 9, 1916
  13. “Condemns Training of Little Mothers”  Jan. 16, 1916
  14. “40,000 Penna. Children Affected by New Laws”  Sept. 19, 1916
  15. “Working Women Gather to Demand Eight-Hour Day”  Dec. 1, 1916
  16. “Women of Eight States Organize for 8-Hour Day”  Dec. 2, 1916
  17. “Federal Eight-Hour Day Wanted by Women’s League”  Dec. 3, 1916
  18.  “Eight-Hour Day for Women a Demonstrated Need”  Dec. 14, 1916
  19. “How Women of the Grange May Profit by Their Work”  Dec. 16, 1916
  20. “Shopping for Christmas Today’s Way and Yesterday’s”  Dec. 21, 1916
  21. “Food and Strike Violence as Seen by a Labor Expert”  1917
  22. “Low Paid Working Girls Do Not ‘All Live at Home’”  Jan. 14, 1917
  23. “Shirtmakers’ Demands Eliminate Sweatshops”  Jan. 23, 1917
  24. “Push Bill to Cut Night Work for Telephone Girls”  Feb. 9, 1917
  25. “Women Workers Will Aid Mayor’s Food Commission”  March 3, 1917
  26. “Baker Upholds Labor Standard”  Nov. 15, 1917


Folder 8  (2 copies)

“Would You Send a Person to Jail?”  Public Ledger, March 5, 1922 

Folder 9  (7 items)

Clippings by various authors, most concerning Sanville (mostly photocopies), 1910-1965

  1. “Telephone Companies Target for Attack”, undated
  2. “Work…”  Harper’s Bazar, undated
  3. “The Life of Factory Girls”  April 3, 1910
  4. Various short clippings concerning Sanville’s work in silk mills, 1910
  5. “The New Sisterhood of Women”  April 9, 1910
  6. “The Sugar Workers”  Feb. 26, 1917
  7. “Higher Pay for Migrants” undated;  “Nation’s Stake in Steel Union Election”, A.J. Raskin, New York Times, Feb. 8, 1965

Folder 10  (6 items)

Clippings pertaining to Theodore Roosevelt (photocopies); incl. photos      

  1. Photographs of Roosevelt and workers
  2. Photograph of Roosevelt and workers, July 1910
  3. “Watch Kept for Possible Arrival of Former President on His Mysterious Motor Trip” undated
  4. “Roosevelt is off on Secret Mission”  August 2, 1910
  5. “Roosevelt Views Lives of the Lowly”  New York Sun, Augest 3, 1910
  6. “Roosevelt Visits Miners in Homes”  Public Ledger, August 3, 1910

Folder 11

Original newspaper clippings  **See Folders 6-10 for research

Folder 12

Original newspaper clippings  **See Folders 6-10 for research

Box 2

Folder 13 (1 item)

“The First Kindergarten in Cuba”, Florence L. Sanville, Harper’s Bazar, 1899(?)

Folder 14  (1 item)

“Consumers’ League of Philadelphia, Seventh Annual Report” Dec. 31, 1907

Folder 15  (2 copies)

“With the Silk Mill Girls:  A First Hand Study”, Made for The Consumers’ League of Pennsylvania, Florence L. Sanville with Fanny T. Cochran, Nov. 1908         

Folder 16  (1 item)

“Employer and Employee.—A question of Policy”, Florence L. Sanville, Harper’s Bazar, Jan. 1910

Folder 17  (1 item)

“The Story of the Consumers’ League”, Florence L. Sanville, The Outlook, May 20, 1911

Contains entire publication

Folder 18  (1 item)

“To Women Shoppers”, Florence L. Sanville, Harper’s Bazar, Sept. 1911

Folder 19  (1 item)

“Daybreak for Pennsylvania’s Working Children”, Florence L. Sanville, Reprinted from The Survey, Feb. 6, 1915

Folder 20  (1 item)

“Straight-Jackets Muffs and Cages”, Florence L. Sanville, Social Legislation in the KeystoneState, The Survey, April 3, 1915

Folder 21  (1 item)

“In Franklin’s Footsteps”, Florence L. Sanville, The Survey, Volume XXXIV, No. 5, May 1, 1915

Contains entire publication

Folder 22  (1 item)

“Pay-as-you-go Pinchot”, Florence L. Sanville, The Survey Midmonthly, Feb. 15, 1923

Contains entire publication

Folder 23  (1 item)

“Quaker Powerhouse”, Florence L. Sanville, Survey Graphic, June 1940

Folder 24  (4 copies)

“Prelude to Victory”, Florence L. Sanville, Fellowship, Jan. 1941

Folder 25  (4 copies)

“New Adventures in Practical Altruism”, Florence L. Sanville, Reprinted from To Dragma of Alpha Omicron Pi, Oct. 1942 issue

Folder 26  (1 item)

“From Icy Mountains to Coral Strands (Quaker Relief)”, Florence L. Sanville, Survey Graphic, April 1947

Contains entire publication

Folder 27  (1 item)

“British Friends before the Conference”, Florence L. Sanville, Friends Intelligencer, July 12, 1952

Folder 28  (1 item)

“The Midwinter Institute on the Ministry”, Florence L. Sanville, Pendle Hill Bulletin, No. 135, April 1957

Contains entire publication

Folder 29  (1 item)

“The Cross at Little Thakeham Meeting”, Florence L. Sanville, Friends Journal, Vol. 3, No. 46, Nov. 16, 1957

Contains entire publication

Folder 30  (3 copies)

“Meditation on a Dog”, Florence L. Sanville, Friends Journal, Vol. 5, No. 26, July 11, 1959

Contains entire publication

Folder 31  (1 item)

“Greece and the Greeks”, Florence L. Sanville, Friends Journal, April 1, 1961

Folder 32  (3 copies)

“Starlight on Phantom Ranch”, Florence L. Sanville, National Parks Magazine, Vol. 36, No. 183, Dec. 1962

Contains entire publication

Folder 33  (6 items)

Writings on the “Jewish-Christian Enigma”, Florence L. Sanville, 1941

Folder 34  (1 item)

“Part II, Chapter I. Tom and His Parents”, Florence L. Sanville, undated (found with writings on Jewish-Christian enigma)

Folder 35  (1 item)

Political newsletter, 1968 Presidential Campaign