Main content

Charlotte Isabelle Claflin papers


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Born in Quincy, Massachusetts on March 22, 1889, Charlotte Isabelle Claflin was the daughter of Frederick Allan Claflin and Adelaide Avery. Her father was a chemist, while her mother was the first woman elected to the Quincy Board of Education and associated with the suffragist movement. Charlotte Claflin attended Cambridge Latin School, going on to attend Bryn Mawr College, where she studied English and Greek. Upon her graduation in 1911, she began a nearly 47-year career in social work.

Post college, she researched briefly in Boston, and studied at the Simmons College School of Social Work. While in Boston, she learned to speak Italians from Italians, a skill that would serve her when living in New Jersey later on. She was on the staff of the New York City Charity Organization Society, then worked with the Child Hygiene Division of the Health Department in Newark, NJ. In 1918, she joined the American Red Cross Commission to Italy, sailing on the SS Giuseppe Verdi. After returning in 1919 to the US, she continued for about a year with the Red Cross, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, then joined an Italian pediatrician in New York City, as his office secretary, In the spring of 1921, she moved from this job to become a case worker with the Girls' Service League of New York City.

From 1924-26, Claflin reorganized the case work of the agency the Infants' Home, which helped unmarried mothers and their children. She faced some difficulties in 1927-28, as social work jobs were difficult to find. However, in 1928, she came to Buffalo, NY as a case worker with the Children's Aid Society. She soon transferred to the Society's office of researcher and publication. With the onset of the Depression, she found herself unemployed once again in 1936.

From 1936-37, she conducted study projects under YMCA and YWCA auspices, and in the spring of 1937, she worked with the Red Cross doing disaster relief in southern Indiana. She was unemployed from the winter of 1937-38, but was offered a case worker's job with the welfare department of Erie County, New York. She remained there for the next twenty years.

Claflin had a strongly political bent to her work. Her experiences in Italy during World War I led her to identify with anti-Fascism. Soon after coming to Buffalo, she began a seventeen year project of establishing a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. During this time, she was also a member of the advisory committee of the Buffalo YWCA. During World War II she was a member of the Women's Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace; after the war she became a charter member of the Atlantic Union Committee, later becoming director of the Buffalo Chapter. Additionally, Claflin belonged to the Buffalo Coucil on World Affairs, the Women's Overseas Service League, the League of Women Voters, the National Association of Social Workers, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the American Christian Palestine Committee, and the Mazzini Society.

Claflin passed away in June of 1968.

Note: Information for this biography was pulled from a larger biography written on Charlotte Claflin on April 3, 1958, which can be found at the beginning of the Claflin papers.

The Charlotte Claflin papers house the personal and published papers of Charlotte Isabelle Claflin, class of 1911. The collection, which ranges from 1870-1964, consists of personal and published writings, newspaper clippings, essays, poetry, presentations, book reviews, photographs, letters, and bibliographic material.

The collection is comprised of one document case containing six folders. The folders are organized by subject matter, excepting the final folder, which contains miscellaneous materials.

Folder 1 contains the 1932 writings of Charlotte Claflin on leisure time (reports and questionnaires) which were presented to the Buffalo Chapter of the American Association of Social Workers. Folder 2 contains personal papers from 1908-54, including school compositions, and a paper on social institutions and the death penalty. Folder 3 contains Claflin's published essays, poetry, letters, presentations, and book reviews from 1928-61. Folder 4 contains photographs, letters, and newspaper clippings from 1930-51. Folders 5a, 5b, and 5c contain a manuscript written by Claflin. Finally, Folder 6 contains miscellaneous papers, letters, pamphlets, cards, sketches, and newspaper clippings related to American anti-fascist movement, the Liberal Party of Erie County, the Charlotte Claflin Civil Liberties Award, fascism in Italy, and personal writings.

Claflin was active in the Red Cross during WWI, a social worker, and the vice chairman of the Erie County, PA Liberal Party. Though small, this collection is interesting for its insight into the social and political views of a woman alive and active during both world wars.

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Author
Cassidy Gruber Baruth
Finding Aid Date
2019 March 27
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest