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Gladys V. Swackhamer papers, 1881-1988 (Bulk: 1900-1988)
4 boxes (1.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 268

Pacifist; psychiatric social worker; and political activist. The collection documents topics such as conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War; nuclear disarmament; the environment; homelessness; the plight of migrant farm workers; and governmental waste and mismanagement; as well as her work with the WPA and other agencies. Materials include photographs; correspondence; and unpublished autobiographical writings, including recordings and interpretations of her dreams.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the papers of Gladys Virginia Swackhamer. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Gladys Virginia Swackhamer was born September 17, 1893 in Hagerstown, Maryland, the daughter of Judge Austin H. Swackhamer and Florence Anderson Swackhamer. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Smith College in 1917 and went on to earn her Master of Social Work in 1923 as a member of the first class of the Smith College School for Social Work. She then obtained a Certificate of Proficiency in the German language from the Institut fuer Auslaender at the University of Berlin.

Early in her professional career, Swackhamer practiced social case work in hospitals and clinics in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. After obtaining a position as Secretary and Research Assistant to the editor of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly in 1927, her professional interests evolved in the direction of research and writing. From 1933 through 1945, she conducted "psychiatric, medical and industrial research for private and government agencies". Cigar Makers After the Lay-Off, 1937, a WPA project, evaluated the problem of workers' welfare following termination of employment due to industrial mechanization, and Choice and Change of Doctors, 1939, examined how low-income families and individuals exercised freedom of choice in selecting medical care. In 1945 Swackhamer resumed practicing social work, continuing until her retirement in 1957 (having moved to Santa Barbara, California in 1949). In addition to writing articles and abstracts for professional journals, she also translated into English the work of several German scholars.

Upon retirement, Swackhamer continued her life-long involvement in the Unitarian Church and also pursued a variety of community interests, including the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and the Child Guidance Clinic of Santa Barbara. She was a committed pacifist and took great interest in the political issues of her day, frequently writing articulate, well-informed letters to her elected representatives and to the editors of local newspapers. In 1986, under the aegis of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Swackhamer initiated the Austin H. and Florence A. Swackhamer Memorial Prizes, to be awarded annually to three college-bound high school seniors for the best essays on how to promote world peace in the nuclear age. The contest was open to international and United States students, and the essays were to focus on specific themes, determined each year by Swackhamer and the staff of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Swackhamer was listed in Who's Who of American Women (5th edition, 1969), and in 1970 was made a life fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. She died in Santa Barbara, California on September 6, 1988.

Scope and contents of the collection

The collection is comprised of biographical material, genealogical records, photographs, correspondence, writings, material pertaining to professional activities, and subject files. Obituaries and condolences for Swackhamer's father, a prominent New Jersey judge, are also included. Personal correspondence is extensive, most notably letters between Swackhamer and her maternal uncle, C.W.G. Anderson, spanning a period of forty years. There is a significant amount of genealogical material as well. Also of potential interest is correspondence with Richard Clemmer, which documents his effort to obtain conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War.

There is also material pertaining to social and political activism in the 1980s, including Swackhamer's letters to editors of newspapers and to her elected representatives on such topics as nuclear disarmament, the environment, homelessness, the plight of migrant farm workers, and governmental waste and mismanagement.

Towards the end of her life Swackhamer began attending writing classes taught by a local author, Robert Downey, resulting in short, descriptive narratives that were autobiographical in nature. She also began recording and interpreting her dreams.

Organization of the collection

This collection is organized into six series:

  • I. Biographical
  • II. Photographs
  • III. Correspondence
  • IV. Professional Activities
  • V. Writings
  • VI. Subjects
  • Oversize Materials

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the papers of Gladys Virginia Swackhamer. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Gladys Virginia Swackhamer Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

Roberta Weissglass donated the Gladys Virginia Swackhamer Papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1990.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 1997.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
5 linear in.

Resumes, educational records, obituaries, legal documents, genealogical material, travel memorabilia, address books.

1903-29, undated
1 linear in.

Portraits of Gladys Virginia Swackhamer; some of immediate family.

6 linear in.

Personal, professional and political correspondence.

4 linear in.

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and journal article.

3 linear in.

Reports, surveys, studies and journal articles, creative writing pieces, records and interpretation of dreams.

1930, undated
.5 linear in.

Contents List

Obituary, memorials, curriculum vitae,
1988, undated

Box 1: folder 1

Primary and secondary school memorabilia,
1901, 1912

Box 1: folder 2
Smith College,
1913, 1917-18, undated

Box 1: folder 3
Smith College School for Social Work,

Box 1: folder 4
Smith College Reunion & Smith College news,

Box 1: folder 5
Who's Who of American Women,
1966, 1968, 1970-74, undated

Box 1: folder 6
Valley Verde Retirement Community,

Box 1: folder 7
Living Will and funeral arrangements,
1975-81, undated

Box 1: folder 8
1920-32, undated

Box 1: folder 9
Address books,

Box 1: folder 10

Family tree and other documentation,

Box 1: folder 11
Correspondence about genealogy with Mish, Mary,
1962-63, 1975, undated

Box 1: folder 12
Swackhamer, Austin,

Obituaries and condolences,

Box 1: folder 13
1881-1963, undated

Box 1: folder 14
Swackhamer, Florence (1860-1955): Correspondence and memorabilia,
1873-1975, undated

Box 1: folder 15
Swackhamer, Donald (1890-1959): Correspondence, memorials and miscellany,
1931, 1975, 1981, undated

Box 1: folder 16
Swackhamer, Samuel S.: Correspondence, clippings,
1883, 1911, 1947, 1955, undated

Box 1: folder 17
Swackhamer, C. G. W. (1863-1952): Last will and testament, biographical information and memorabilia,
1855-1966, undated

Box 1: folder 18
Anderson, George: Correspondence and memorabilia,
1876-78, undated

Box 1: folder 19
1949-50, undated

Box 1: folder 20
1903-29, undated

Portraits of Gladys Virginia Swackhamer,
1903, 1932, undated

Box 1: folder 21
Portraits of family members, and miscellaneous photographs,
1929, undated

Box 1: folder 22



1900, 1985

Box 2: folder 23
Florence A. Swackhamer,
1912-46, undated

Box 2: folder 24-25
C.V.G. Anderson,
1910-52, undated

Box 2: folder 26-27
Jones, Jinny,

Box 2: folder 27a
Meyers, Sarah,

Box 2: folder 28
Newcomer, Charlotte,

Box 2: folder 29


Box 2: folder 30
1946-84, undated

Box 2: folder 31
Beckham, Edward,
1932-50, undated

Box 2: folder 32
Bisbee, George A.,
1922-49, undated

Box 2: folder 33
Clemmer, Richard,
1960-84, undated

Box 2: folder 34
{no folder 35}

Box 2: folder 35
Lawrence, Waterbury,
1934, 1954, undated

Box 2: folder 36
Kartzke, Georg,

Box 2: folder 37
Kates, Arnold,
1939-50, undated

Box 2: folder 38
Kiefer, Felix,

Box 2: folder 39
1929-83, undated

Box 2: folder 40
Christmas cards,
1931-56, undated

Box 2: folder 41

1918-66, undated

Box 3: folder 42
Letter of recommendation,

Box 3: folder 43

To newspaper editors,

Box 3: folder 44
To elected representatives,
1963-86, undated

Box 3: folder 45
To Chavez, Cesar (United Farm Workers),

Box 3: folder 46
1938-39, undated

Box 3: folder 47

Committee on Research in Medical Economics,

Box 3: folder 48
International Conference of Social Work,

Box 3: folder 49
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation,
1984-88, undated

Box 3: folder 50
German translations

1929-56, undated

Box 3: folder 51
"Psychoanalytic Experiences in Public School Practice," by Hans Zullinger,

Box 3: folder 52

Reports, surveys and studies

"Survey of the Relief Population of the Municipalities of Clayton, Franklin Township, Monroe Township and Newfield in Gloucester County, New Jersey,"

Box 3: folder 53
"Cigar Makers After the Lay-off"

Published manuscript and press release,

Box 3: folder 54
1938-39, 1942

Box 3: folder 55
"Choice and Change of Doctors"

Published manuscript,

Box 3: folder 56
1939-40, undated

Box 3: folder 57
Reviews, press releases and related material,
1939-40, 1945, 1955, undated

Box 3: folder 58
"Some Factors in Maintaining Contact With Clinic Patients,"

Box 3: folder 59
Journal articles

" Any Sickness in The Family?,"

Box 4: folder 60
" Towards Industrial & Mental Health,"

Box 4


Box 4: folder 61
Correspondence with Smith Ely Jelliffe,

Box 4: folder 62
Smith Ely Jelliffe: Obituary and journal articles,
1937, 1945, undated

Box 4: folder 63
Unpublished works


Box 4: folder 64
Journal articles,
1938, 1940-41, undated

Box 4: folder 65
Creative writing class with Robert Downey,
1982-84, undated

Box 4: folder 66-67
1983-86, undated

Box 4: folder 68
Position paper: "The Farm Worker,"

Box 4: folder 69-70
1930, undated

Mental health,
1930, undated

Box 4: folder 71
1928, 1960-64, 1983, undated

Box 4: folder 72

Photographs of Gladys Virginia Swackhamer and Austin H. Swackhamer,

Flat File:
Award of Merit, Valley Verde Retirement Community,

Flat File:
Family tree,

Flat File:
Appeal to the House of Representatives to abolish the House Unamerican Activities Committee, New York Times,
22 Feb 1962

Flat File:

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Antinuclear movement--United States--History--Sources
  • Environmental protection--Citizen participation--History--20th century--Sources
  • Industrial hygiene--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Jelliffe, Smith Ely, 1866-1945
  • Migrant labor--United States--History--Sources
  • Peace movements--History--20th century--Sources
  • Psychiatric social work--United States--History--Sources
  • Smith College. School for Social Work.--History--Sources
  • Social workers--United States--History
  • Swackhamer, Austin H
  • Swackhamer, Gladys V.
  • Unemployed--United States--Case Studies
  • United States. Work Projects Administration--History

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