Lella Secor Florence Papers
Held at: Swarthmore College Peace Collection [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore 19081-1399
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. 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
Lella Faye Secor was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1887, the youngest of her mother's seven children. When an older brother settled in the West, Secor homesteaded on property adjoining his, near Coulee, Washington. She soon moved to Seattle. Earlier, she had met Rebecca Shelley at the University of Michigan, and the two young women had become close friends. When Shelley asked Secor to be a reporter on the Henry Ford Peace Expediton, Secor accepted and was on board when the ship, the Oscar II, sailed in December 1915. While not a pacifist when she left on the voyage, Secor quickly became "heartily in sympathy with the plan for continuous mediation" and a "thorough pacifist".
Her companions on this trip, besides Mr. Ford, included such dedicated pacifists as Shelley, Rosika Schwimmer, and Louis Lochner. After her return from the Ford trip in January l9l6, she remained in New York City and became very active in pacifist efforts to keep the United States out of World War I. She already considered herself and Shelley "radicals" who found it necessary "to fight the old pacifists every step of the way".
She was on the executive committee of the American Neutral Conference Committee whose specific object was "to urge our government to call or co-operate in a Conference of Neutral Nations which shall offer joint mediation to the belligerents by proposals calculated to form the basis of a permanent peace." This organization faltered and was reborn in early 1917 as the Emergency Peace Federation, of which Secor was the secretary. That summer, Secor and Shelley launched the People's Council of America with which the Emergency Peace Federation merged. This group tried to hold a conference in Chicago, but because of pro-war sentiment, was unable to do so and no effective work was carried out after that by The People's Council. As Emily Greene Balch wrote, "The movement had different names at different times - American Neutral Conference Committee, First American Conference for Democracy and Terms of Peace; People's Council of America; Emergency Peace Federation; National Council of Labor; ..." The names were often the same - Balch, Rebecca Shelley, Lella Secor, Fanny G. Villard, Oswald Villard, and Louis Lochner among them.
Secor was on the executive committee of The Young Democracy in l9l8 and also on the Mass Meeting Committee of Friends of New Russia, both short lived ventures.
In 1917, she married Philip Sargant Florence, a teacher who respected Secor's right to pursue a career. The couple had two sons and moved to Cambridge, England, in 1921. Here, Secor joined the Women's International League and spoke on women's rights, using her maiden name of Lella Secor. She founded the Cambridge Birth Control Clinic in 1925. In 1930, she wrote a book, Birth Control on Trial. The family finally settled permanently in Birmingham, England, where she continued to write and to be active in politics and birth control causes. Lella Secor Florence died in 1966.
Secor's papers contain letters to her family (1915-1917), most of which were used in the book Lella Secor, A Diary in Letters, 1915-1922, edited in 1978 by her daughter-in-law, Barbara Moench Florence, and available in the SCPC library. There is also a small amount of correspondence written to her. The bulk of her papers consists of the records from pacifist causes in which Secor was active during the years 1916 through 1918. There is correspondence written by members of the Henry Ford Peace Expedition as well as newsclippings and accounts of the voyage, some written by Secor twenty years later.
There are minutes from the Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation (1916), The American Neutral Conference Committee (1916-1917), and the Emergency Peace Federation (1917), as well as literature, drafts of reports, and correspondence of these organizations. There is also noteworthy material about the People's Council of America (1917-1919), the Young Democracy (1918-1923), and the American Union Against Militarism (1917-1919).
Correspondents include Louis P. Lochner, Gaston Plantiff, and Rosika Schwimmer.
The records of each organization about which there was material in the Secor papers was placed together in a single folder. This includes minutes, literature printed by the organization, drafts, and correspondence. A scrapbook containing newspaper clippings about the Henry Ford Peace Expedition was disassembled for conservation purposes. Copies of these clippings are found in Series II.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.
Gift of Barbara Moench Florence, 1981 [Acc. 81A-031].
Checklist prepared by Martha P. Shane, February 1986; This finding aid was prepared by Chloe Lucchesi- Malone, July 2009. These records were processed under a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Items removed: Photographs
- American Neutral Conference Committee
- American Union Against Militarism
- Emergency Peace Federation (U.S.)
- People's Council of America for Democracy and Peace
- Young Democracy (Organization)
- Henry Ford Peace Expedition (1915-1916)
- Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation (1916)
- Swarthmore College Peace Collection
- Access Restrictions
- Copyright to the materials created by Lella Secor Florence has been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
- Use Restrictions
Moved to Swarthmore College Peace Collection book collection