A Finding Aid to the
Annie Nathan Meyer Papers
Collection No. 7
The ANNIE NATHAN MEYER PAPERS were presented to the American Jewish Archives through Attorney Joseph Solomon of the firm Lehman, Goldmark and Rohrlich, attorneys-at-law, New York City. The papers were received in November 1951 and initial processing of the collection was completed by January 1952. Final processing was completed in November 1976.
All property rights are assigned to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to materials authored by Annie Nathan Meyer are held by her heirs. Literary rights to materials authored by others are held by the individual author or his/her heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.
The papers are open to all users and available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH top
Annie Nathan Meyer was born in New York City February 19, 1867, the youngest daughter of Annie Florence Nathan (d. 1878) and Robert Weeks Nathan (d.1888). She had one sister, Maud, and two brothers, Robert and Nathan(d. 1941). The Nathan family is of notable U.S. heritage, being descendants of Gershom Mendes Seixas, the minister of New York's Congregation Sherith Israel during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin N. Cardozo and Emma Lazarus, two of Meyer's contempories, were distant cousins.
Ms. Meyer spent her entire life in New York City except for a brief period in her childhood. In 1875, due to the stock market crash, the Nathan family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin. They remained in the Midwest until Annie Florence Nathan's death in 1878, when they again took up permanent residence in New York. Meyer attended public schools in both the Midwest and New York, Upon her sister's marriage in 1881, however, she left school before graduation in order to assume the management of the Nathan household.
In 1885, upon passing the entrance examinations, Ms. Meyer entered the Collegiate Course for Women at Columbia University. She soon discovered, though, that the standard education for men was not to be gleaned from this "collegiate course." Upon her marriage to Dr. Alfred Meyer on February 15, 1887, she left the University to continue independently her education and the development of her literary talents. By the end of that year, she decided to rectify the situation and, with the support of Melvil Dewey, she resolved to create an entire college for women in New York City.
The campaign for the establishment of New York's first woman's college was officially begun with an article by Annie Nathan Meyer in the January 28, 1888 issue of Nation. Throughout the rest of that year, Ms. Meyer devoted herself to personally obtaining the approval and funding for the school. A Memorial Resolution to the Columbia Board of Trustees, written by Melvil Dewey, Mary Mapes Dodge and Annie Nathan Meyer, containing fifty signatures, gained sanction for the founding of a woman's affiliate college to Columbia University. Donations from Alfred Meyer, John D. Rockefeller and others provided the funds to establish the school. On October 7, 1889, Barnard College, named in honor of the Columbia University president who had struggled for the higher education of women, formally opened its doors with an enrollment of seven.
Ms. Meyer remained in close contact with Barnard College throughout the rest of her life. She was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1893 through 1942. Her daughter, Margaret, graduated from Barnard in 1915. The Annie Nathan Meyer Drama Library was established in honor of her 70th birthday in 1937 and special tribute was given to her at the College's 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1939. In 1941 and 1942, Meyer organized two art exhibits, the Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit and the Parade of Patriots Art Exhibit, to provide funds for Barnard College scholarships.
Beyond her association with Barnard, Meyer also participated in many other contemporary causes. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she was active in the American anti-suffrage movement to the extent that she was regarded by some as the vice-president of the U.S. anti-suffragettes. This seeming contradiction, in light of her fight for women's education, her chairing of the literary committee of the World's Fair Women's Congress in 1893 and her participation in the National Council of Women in the United States in 1889, is explained in her numerous writings during that period (i.e. "Woman's Assumption of Sex Superiority," "Women Not Fitted for Politics", and "The Dominant Sex" ). Basically, Ms. Meyer was alienated by the claim that in giving women the vote, all violence and social wrongs would be ended. And she saw no reason at all for women to infiltrate the male sphere of things and vice- versa. It should be noted, though, that once the 19th Amendment was passed, Meyer accepted her new responsibilites, and worked with the League of Women Voters to encourage educated voting.
In 1916, Ms. Meyer became active in the Emergency Committee of the American Home Economics Association, which was formed in response to World War I and the shortages that war would force upon the American household. Ms. Meyer assumed the chair of the Committee in July 1917 and maintained it until the Comittee's demise in 1918. In this capacity, she supervised the making of the film Cheating the Garbage Pail, which attempted to eradicate the waste in comtemporary American kitchens, and also aided with the promotion of Herbert Hoover's post-war food savings program.
Ms. Meyer's other activities included her 1906 article "What American Museums are Doing for American Art," which showed the lack of native art in most American institutions and a 1938 update survey, her help with the presentation of Ernest Bloch's "Sacred Music" in New York in 1934, her persuasion of Thomas Addis Emmet to sell his notable historical library intact to the New York Public Library, her participation in the National Conference for Christians and Jews, and her success in 1933 in securing the Javis portrait of Isaac Moses for the Museum of the City of New York. Throughout her life, Ms. Meyer was also an active contributor to "Letters to the Editor" columns, where she expressed her opinion on a variety of issues.
Since childhood, Annie Nathan Meyer had been interested in a literary career. Despite her many other interests, she was able to fulfill this desire through numerous published articles, short stories, novels and plays. As early as 1888, her articles were published in Nation and Woman. In 1893, her first novel, Helen Brent M.D. was published anonymously by Cassell. In 1911, she copyrighted her first play, The Advertising of Kate. As a writer, Meyer was a member of many literary and drama organizations such as the Dramatist's Guild of the Author's League of America, Inc., the New York Auxiliary of the League of American Pen Women, and the Playwright Committee of the Manhattan Little Theatre. She was also able to help her nephew, Robert Nathan, establish a literary career of his own. (A selective list of Ms. Meyer's works may be seen in the appendices of this inventory).
Annie Nathan Meyer died on September 23, 1951 in New York City, the last survivor of the Alfred Meyer family. Her daughter, Margaret Meyer Cohen, had died on September 13, 1923 and her husband, Alfred Meyer, on July 14, 1950.
SCOPE AND CONTENT top
The ANNIE NATHAN MEYER PAPERS (1858 - 1950) include correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, clippings, reports, addresses and miscellaneous items, which record the major activities of Ms. Meyer's life. Although the collection spans the years from 1858 through 1950, the majority of the material is from 1885 through 1948. The collection is divided into five series:
Series A. CORRESPONDENCE (1880-1950) is the largest series, consisting of the general and topical files of Ms. Meyer. The Box and Folder List in conjunction with the Subject Tracings, serve as a selective guide to the subjects and correspondents within this series.
A. CORRESPONDENCE B. MANUSCRIPTS C. NOTES D. PERSONAL MATERIAL E. NEARPRINT
The general files are arranged chronologically and contain Ms. Meyer's correspondence regarding her literary career and her participation in various social movements. Ms. Meyer's correspondence with significant American literary figures along with her numerous "Letters to the Editor" are contained in these files.
The topical correspondence files follow the general correspondence files. They are alphabetically arranged with a chronological sub-arrangement. These files represent the correspondents and subjects which Meyer considered to be of major importance. Thus, for example, her correspondence with Benjamin N. Cardozo is found in these files.
Series B. MANUSCRIPTS (1895-1948; n.d.) contains the hand-written and typescript copies of many of Ms. Meyer's published and unpublished works. The series is divided into three subseries identified by the type of writing: 1) Monographs, 2) Plays, and 3) Short stories, Sketches, Essays, and Addresses. Each subseries is alphabetically arranged. Appendix B presents a more complete list of Ms. Meyer's monographs and plays and Appendix A fully lists the contents of the Short stories, Sketches, Essays and Addresses subseries.
Series C. NOTES (1885-1945) consists of Meyer's bound notebooks, journals, and loose notes concerning her research on various topics, her impressions of some of her readings and activities, and her day-to-day thoughts. The general notes are arranged chronologically, and are followed by the subject notes which are-alphabetically arranged. Many of the bindings were in poor condition, therefore, when processed, they were taken apart and any empty pages removed.
Series D. PERSONAL MATERIAL (1858-1959) is divided into two subseries: I)Correspondence and 2) Iconographic material. The Correspondence subseries contains Ms. Meyer's correspondence with, and, or about her family on personal matters. The subseries is alphabetically arranged. Meyer's correspondence with her nephew, Robert Nathan, the noted U.S. novelist and poet, is contained in these files.
The Iconographic material subseries contains photographs, postcards, and one folder of miscellaneous items. The photographs, which are arranged by size, are of the Nathan-Meyer family, their friends and the various places they lived or visited. They begin as early as 1876 and continue until the late 1940's. The postcards, which Meyer apparently collected, are from both America and abroad. They span the dates between 1926 and 1939.
The last series, E. NEARPRINT (1895-1948), consists of loose clippings and scrapbooks of clippings, articles and programs pertinent to Ms. Meyer's family and interests. Although many of the scrapbook bindings were removed because of their deterioration, their original continuity has been kept intact.
BOX AND FOLDER LIST top
Box Folder Contents SERIES A. CORRESPONDENCE 1 1 1880 - 1894. 2 1895 - 1906. 3 1907 - 1919. 4 1920 - 1921. 5 1922. 6 1923 - 1924. 7 1925 - 1926. 2 1 1927 - 1928. 2 1929 - 1930. 3 1931 - 1932. 4 1933. 5 1934 Jan. - June. 6 1935 Aug. - 1935 May. 7 1935 June - 1936. 8 1937 - 1938 Nov. 3 1 1938 Dec. 2 1939. 3 1940 - 1941. 4 1942 - 1943. 5 1944 - 1945. 6 1946 - 1949. 7-8 Not dated. 4 1-2 Not dated. 3 Fragments. n.d. 4 American Home Economics Association. 1916 - 1917 July. 5 American Home Economics Association. 1917 Aug. - 1918; n.d. 6 Barnard Beginnings. 1934 - 1935 Nov. 7 Barnard Beginnings. 1935 Dec. - 1948. 8 Barnard College. (1888) - 1923 - 1934. [Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]. 9 Barnard College. 1935 - 1938. [Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]. 10 Barnard College. 1939 - 1942. [Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]. 5 1 Barnard College. 1943 - 1950. [Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]. 2 Barnard College. n.d. [Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]. 3 Barnard College. Board of Trustees. 1894; 1936 - 1945. [Correspondence; Minutes; Reports]. 4 Barnard College. Board of Trustees. 1946 - 1948. [Correspondence; Minutes; Reports]. 5 Barnard College. Board of Trustees. 1949 - 1950; n.d. [Correspondence; Minutes; Reports]. 6 Barnard College - Yearbook. 1936. 6 1 Black Souls. 1924 - 1932 Aug. 2 Black Souls. 1932 Sept.-1948; n.d. 3 Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit. 1940 - 1941 Apr. 4 Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit. 1941 May - June. 5 Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit. 1941 July - Aug. 6 Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit. 1941 Sept; n.d. 7 Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan. 1920 - 1937. 8 Columbia University. Committee on Jewish Students. 1933 1949. [Correspondence; Reports]. 7 1 Gildersleeve, Virginia C. 1908 - 1939. 2 Gildersleeve, Virginia C. 1940 - 1946; n.d. 3 Hurston, Zora. 1923 - 1941; n.d. 4 The New Way. 1923 - 1928; n.d. 5 Parade of Patriots Exhibit. 1941. 6 Parade of Patriots Exhibit. 1942 Jan. - Feb. 7 Parade of Patriots Exhibit. 1942 Mar. - May. 8 Parade of Patriots Exhibit. 1942 June - July; n.d. SERIES B. MANUSCRIPTS Subseries 1: Monographs 8 1-2 At the Sign of the Crown and Ship; A Tale of the New York Province. [ca. 1895]. 3 At the Sign of the Crown and Ship; A Tale of the New York Province. "Ethan Orwell Notes." [ca. 1895]. 4 The Gallery-Goer's Book. [ca. 1943]. 5-6 It's Been Fun. 1951. 9 1 Moments. [ca. 1931]. 2 Moments. "Index." [ca. 1931]. 3 Nature's Way. 1925. Subseries 2: Plays 4 The Advertising of Kate. 1911 [copyright date]. 5 Barchester Towers. n.d. 6 Black Souls. 1925. 7 Cousin Fritz. [1942?]. 8 A Dinner of Herbs. 1908. [ca. 1912 changed to The Dreamer]. 9 The District Attorney. [ca. 1920]. 10 Due Unto Others. n.d. 11 Fifth Avenue. 1930 [copyright date]. 10 1 Full Circle. [ca. 1934]. [in 1945 changed to Genesis I. 27]. 2 Furlough. [ca. 1944]. 3 Genesis I. 27 1945. [originally titled Full Circle. ca. 1934]. 4 Get Her Married by Shirley Dare [pseudonym]. n.d. 5 The Giftie. n.d. 6 Mrs. Doctor. n.d. 7 Paula. n.d. 8 Puppets. . 9 The Right to Dream. [ca. 1922]. 10 Soundings. [ca. 1937]. 11 The Span. [ca. 1922]. 12 The Spur. n.d. 13 Windfall. . 11 1 Women's Wiles. 1944. 2 Synopses of plays to be written. n.d. Subseries 3: Short Stories, Sketches, Essays and Addresses [Fully listed in Appendix A] 3 "Again Spreadhenism" through "Atlanta." 4 "A Bid from the Blue" through "Do We Need Emerson Today?" 5 "George Eliot" through "How to Read a Play." 6 "Law and Order" through "My Refugee Cousin." 7 "The New Puritan" through "A Parodox for Playgoers." 8 "The Pecan-man and Other Vendors" through "The Returned Job." 12 1 "The Scalpel" through "Swinging Too Far." 2 "Then and Now" through "Yetta." 3 Untitled. 1913; n.d. 4 Fragments. 1940; n.d. SERIES C. NOTES 5 1885 - 1895. 6 1902 - 1921. 13 1 1923; 1931. 2 1933. 3 1943; 1945. 4-5 Not dated. 14 1-2 Not dated. 3 Art and sculpture. n.d. 4 "By the Way" notebooks. 1921 - 1933. 5 Music. n.d. 6 "On Margaret Fuller." [ca. 1926]. SERIES D. PERSONAL Subseries 1: Correspondence 16 1 Cohen, Ira [son-in-law]. 1923 1944; n.d. 2 Cohen, Margaret Meyer [daughter]. 1894 - 1898. [Baby book]. 3 Cohen, Margaret Meyer [daughter]. 1900 - 1924. 4 Meyer, Alfred [husband]. Letters from Annie Nathan Meyer. 1887 - 1940. 5 Meyer, Alfred [husband]. Letters from Annid Nathan Meyer. n.d. 6 Meyer, Alfred [husband]. Letters to Annie Nathan Meyer. 1890 - 1940. n.d. 7 Nathan Family. 1858 - 1939; n.d. 8 Nathan, Harold and Sally [brother and sister-in-law]. 1890 - 1944; n.d. 17 1 Nathan, Lucy, Nancy and Janet [Robert's three wives]. 1930 - 1947; n.d. 2 Nathan, Maud Nathan [sister]. 1890 1942; n.d. 3 Nathan, Robert [nephew]. 1910 - 1949. 4-5 Nathan, Robert [nephew]. n.d. 6 Unidentified. 1886 - 1898; 1936; n.d. 7-8 Wedding Anniversary, 50th. 1937. 18 1 Wedding Anniversary, 60th. 1947. Subseries 2: Iconographic Material 2-5 Photographs. 1876 - ca. 1949. 6 Postcard Collection. 1920 - 1939. 19 1 Postcard Collection. 1920 - 1939. 2 Miscellaneous. SERIES E. NEARPRINT Subseries 1: Scrapbooks 3 1885 - 1889. 4 1888 - 1904. 5 1889 - 1899. 20 1 1913 - 1918. 2 1920 - 1922. 3 1921 - 1928 [with index]. 21 1 1936 - 1941. [re family]. 2 1938 - 1943. 3 Not dated. [re plays and playwrights]. *22 1 1909 - 1912. 2 1931 - 1934. 3 1934 - 1937. 4 1947 - 1948. Subseries 2: Clippings 23 1 1901 - 1944. *Oversize Box No. 15
SUBJECT TRACINGS top
Note: This list represents a selective guide to the significant subjects and correspondence dealt with in the ANNIE NATHAN MEYER PAPERS. References are to boxes and folders, i.e. 1/7 = Box 1, Folder 7. This list must be used in conjunction with the Box and Folder List. Adler, Cyrus 1/7; 3/1. The Adventurers 7/4. Askowith, Dora 2/5. Barnard College 7/1-2. Barnard College - Annie Nathan Meyer Drama Library 4/9; 17/7-8. Barnard College, Scholarships 6/3-6; 7/2, 5-8. Buck, Pearl S. 2/4. Bullit, William C. 1/3; 2/4, 7. Butler, Nicholas Murray 2/2-4, 7; 3/6. Cheating the Garbage Pail 1/5; 4/4-5. Coolidge, Elizabeth Sprague 2/5-6. Corrant, James B. 2/7. Creation 10/9. Daughters of the American Revolution - Flat File. Cabinet 5, Drawer 1. The Dominant Sex 11/6. The Dreamer 9/8. Eisenhower, Dwight D. 3/6. Erskine, John 2/3. 5-6. Fadiman, Clifton 2/4. Ferber, Edna 3/2. Fisher, Dorothy Canfield 2/7; 3/7. Full Circle 10/3. Genesis I. 27 10/1. Gildersleeve, Virginia C. 5/1; 7/3. Hoffman, Isidor 6/8. Holmes, John Haynes 2/3, 7-8; 3/1, 4. Hoover, Herbert 4/4. Huberman, Bronislaw 2/7. Hull, Henry 3/7. Hurst, Fannie 2/6. Hurston, Zora Neale 7/3. Isaacs, Nathan 2/5. Johnson, James Weldon 1/7; 3/7; 6/1. Kahn, Otto Herman 1/3. Kaltenborn, H.V. 2/5; 18/2. La Guardia, Fiorello H. 2/8; 3/3. Lehman, Herbert H. 2/3-4. Lehman, Irving 2/5. Liebman, Joshua Loth 3/5. Lord, Isabel Ely 1/3; 4/4-5. Meyer, Alfred. Flat File. Cabinet 5, Drawer 1. Morgenthau, Henry 2/4. National Special Aid Society, Inc. - Home Economics Committee 4/4-5. New York Public Library - Home Economics Advisory Committee 4/4-5. Orwell, Ethan 8/2-4. Roosevelt, Eleanor 3/5-6; 4/7. Roosevelt, Theodore 1/2-3. Sulzberger, Arthur Hays 3/5. Villard, Oswald Garrison 1/7; 2/8. "What American Museums are Doing for American" - 1938 update 3/1. Willkie, Wendell Lewis 3/4. Woman's Suffrage 2/8; 8/5-6; 9/1; 11/3; 2/2. Wise, Stephen Samuel 1/6; 2/6; 3/4. Zangwill, Israel 1/6.
APPENDIX A top
Note: The following is a list of short stories, sketches, essays, and addresses included in Subseries 2 of Series B. (Box 11, Folder 3 through Box 13, Folder 3).
"Again Spreadhensih". n.d. "All This Frankness and Honesty." n.d. "Armgart and Aurora." n.d. "Art and the Gift of Gab." n.d. "At Grips With Grief." ca. 1923. "Atlanta." n.d. "A Bid from the Blue." n.d. "Bingham's Revenge." n.d. "The Candidate with the Golden Voice." n.d "Compensation." n.d. "Concours." published January 1907. "Corot: Figure Painter." 1930. "The Dollar Bill." n.d. "Do We Need Emerson Today?" Address before the Emerson Circle of Concord, Mass., June 5, 1938. "George Eliot." n.d. "Going Out of the Woods." n.d. "The Growing Formlessness of Art Expression." n.d. "Her Gift." n.d. "How Ardley Made Broadway." n.d. "How to Read a Play." Bundu's Magazine, May 1911 [Reprint]. "Law and Order." n.d. "A Little Hitler in the New York Zoological Garden." May 1933. "Little Keats." n.d. "The Masterpiece." n.d. "Me and Mine." n.d. "The Message of the Mountains." n.d. "Mrs. Caraberry Gives Up Her Car." n.d. "Mr. Pulsifer's Plans." n.d. "Music." n.d. "My Refugee Cousin." n.d. "The New Puritan." n.d. "The Northern Woods: A Further Suggestion." n.d. "On Adapting Foreign Plays." n.d. "On Having Shot One's Bolt." n.d. "On Rounding the Corner." n.d. "One Act Sketch." n.d. "Pacifism in a Pinch." n.d. "A Paradox for Playgoer's." n.d. "The Pecan-man and Other Vendors." n.d. "The Penitent." n.d. "Post-Christmas Reflections of a Creature of Habit." n.d. "The Power of the Spirit." n.d. "The Premier's Revenge; An Incident of the Sacred College." n.d. "Reflections of a Cape Cod Theatre-Goer, Summer of 1934." "Renunciation." n.d. "The Returned Job." n.d. "The Scalpel." n.d. "The Shoe Pinches Mr. Samuels." 1934. "The Siege of Troy." n.d. "Silence." n.d. "Some Reflections on the Integrity of Art." n.d. "The Story of Menace." n.d. "The Story of Therese." n.d. "Stray Notes on the Courbet Exhibition." n.d. "Swinging Too Far." n.d. "Then and Now." n.d. "Today's Shakespeare." n.d. "Transcendentalism." n.d. "Traveling." n.d. "Vorbei." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, November 1893. "What Youth Wants." [ca. 1939]. "Whistler's Butterflies." The Critic, September 1903. "Woman's Assumption of Sex Superiority." North American Review, January 1904. "Yetta." n.d. APPENDIX B.Note: The following is a list of novels and plays. Starred items indicate that there is a manuscript of the work in the collection, Series B, Subseries 1.
Monographs: *At the Sign of the Crown and Ship, A Tale of the New York Province. [ca. 1895]. Barnard Beginnings. 1935. (Houghton, Mifflin and Co.). *The Gallery-Goer's Book. [ca. 1943]. Helen Brent, M.D. 1893. (Cassell). *It's Been Fun. 1951. (Henry Schuman, New York). *Moments [autobiography]. [ca. 1931]. My Park Book. 1898. *Nature's Way. 1925. Problems [?]. 1892. Robert Annys, Poor Priest. 1901. (MacMillan). Woman's Work in America. 1891. (Holt). Plays: The Adventurers. n.d. [ca. 1923. changed to The New Way]. *The Advertising of Kate. 1911. *Barchester Towers. n.d. *Black Souls. 1925. *Cousin Fritz. [1942 ?]. Creation. n.d. *A Dinner of Herbs. 1908. [ca. 1928 changed to The Dreamer]. *The District Attorney. 1920. [ca. 1928 changed to Her Honor, The District Attorney.]. The Dominant Sex. 1904. The Dreamer. 1912. [Originally titled A Dinner of Herbs. 1908]. *Due Unto Others. n.d. *Fifth Avenue. 1927. [copyright 1930]. *Full Circle. [ca. 1934]. [In 1945 changed to Genesis I. 27]. *Furlough. 1944. *Genesis I. 27. 1945. [Originally titled Full Circle, ca. 1934]. *Get Her Married by Shirley Dare [pseudonym]. n.d. *The Giftie. n.d. Her Honor, the District Attorney. 1928. [Originally titled The District Attorney. 1920]. *Mrs. Doctor. n.d. The New Way. 1923. [Originally titled The Adventurers. n.d.]. P's and Q's. [ca. 1920]. *Paula. n.d. *Puppets. 1923. *The Right to Dream. [ca. 1922]. The Snob. n.d. *Soundings. [ca. 1937]. *The Span. [ca. 1920]. *The Spur. n.d. *Windfall. 1943. Woman's Wiles. 1944.