SaraKay C. Smullens Papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. 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
SaraKay Cohen Smullens was born April 10, 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Charles and Charlotte (Orfuss) Sherman. In 1958 she enrolled in Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Two years later, she transferred to Goucher College, in Baltimore. In 1962 she earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College, with a concentration in political science. In 1963 she enrolled in the graduate program of the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. In 1964 she transferred to the graduate program of the School of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1965 she earned the degree of Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.
SaraKay Cohen Smullens married in 1964 and became the mother of two daughters, Elisabeth Joy LaMotte (1968 - living in 2009) and Kathyanne Sherman Cohen (1971 - living in 2009). She married, secondly, in 1979 to Stanton N. Smullens (1936 - living in 2009) and became the "step" mother to his two children, Elizabeth Rebecca Smullens Brass (1966 - living in 2009) and Douglas Robert Smullens (1969 - living in 2009).
SaraKay Cohen Smullens began her professional career immediately following her 1965 graduation from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1965-66 she served as a Protective Service Counselor at Philadelphia's Society to Protect Children from Cruelty. In 1966-68 she was a Family Therapist at a Philadelphia psychiatric hospital. In 1968-73 she served the Jewish Family Service of Philadelphia as a Marriage and Family Counselor and as Director of its Family Life Education. In 1973 she began her private practice of Marital, Couple, Family, and Group Psychotherapy, a practice which she continues in 2009. In the mid 1970s, during her years as a single parent and while there were a number of local television shows coming directly from Philadelphia and neighboring cities, she was a frequent guest, discussing areas of social and clinical concern from a social work perspective.
In 1969 SaraKay Cohen Smullens was elected a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. In 1987 she became a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work; in 1988, a Certified Family Life Educator; and in 1995, a Certified Group Psychotherapist. She is a licensed practitioner in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She has also held academic appointments in the College of Allied Health Professionals at Hahnemann Medical University, where she lectured and taught courses, seminars, and workshops.
SaraKay Cohen Smullens was (and is) also active in the Philadelphia community. She has been a member of the board of directors of the Family Service of Philadelphia; a member and officer of the Woman's Board of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; a member of the Board of Overseers of her alma mater, the School of Social Policy and Practice of the University of Pennsylvania; a member of the board of directors of the Center City Residents' Association; a member of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Jewish Congress; Vice Chair and Chair of the Child Welfare Advisory Board of Philadelphia; and a Trustee of her alma mater, Goucher College. She is also the founder of "Sabbath for Domestic Peace," an inter-faith, inter-disciplinary task force with the mission of educating clergy about domestic violence.
SaraKay Cohen Smullens is perhaps best known for her writing. In 1976-81 she was a columnist at Philadelphia's morning newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she dealt with issues of relationships and public policy. During this period - in 1980 -the nationally-prominent publishing company, Charles Scribner's Sons, published SaraKay's best known work, Whoever Said Life is Fair?: A Guide to Growing through Life's Injustices. In 2002 the New Horizon Press published SaraKay's second, major volume, Setting Yourself Free: Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Abuse in Family, Friendships, Work and Love. Her writing continues to the present time. In January 2010 the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy published a major, twenty-page article of hers, "The Codification and Treatment of Emotional Abuse in Structured Group Therapy." SaraKay intends to continue writing and publishing.
The collection documents SaraKay C. Smullens' career as a free-lance columnist, woman and family issue writer, social activist, and family psychotherapist.
The "Correspondence and general" series constitutes the bulk of the collection. This series includes the following sub-series: American Jewish Congress, Center City Residents' Association (over an issue of trash collection for the downtown neighborhood of Philadelphia), Child Welfare Advisory Board of the City of Philadelphia, Department of Human Services of the City of Philadelphia, Continuing Education, Crystal Stair Award Committee, Family Service of Philadelphia, Jefferson University Hospital Women's Board, Speaking engagements, State Board of Social Workers, and Penn School of Social Work (Board of Overseers).
The Manuscript series includes several major works in typescript form that have not been published.
The Meeting files series contains material of all meetings, conferences, workshops, seminar courses SaraKay Smullens attended or hosted.
The Publishing series is another major one. Collected in this series are articles published in journals, in particular the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News; the two books published-- Whoever Said Life is Fair? and Setting Yourself Free, including not only book forms of different editions, but also drafts and manuscripts, correspondence with the publishers, promotion activities, readers' response and the author's correspondence with the readers.
The Sabbath of Domestic Peace series includes records of this civic branch of the American Jewish Congress, especially activities of its Interfaith Worship Service.
The Tom Harkin for President campaign series documents activities Smullens helped organize in Philadelphia area for Senator Harkin in his bid for United States President in 1991.
The Memorabilia series includes mementos SaraKay kept of the 1960 Democratic Convention, the Democratic National Convention of 1996, a file of papers of her grandfather Samuel Orfuss for his trip from Germany to America, 1904, a scrapbook that dated back to her school days, and other miscellaneous letters, photographs, posters or artifacts related to celebrities or events that were of special significance to the original owner.
The Video and audio tapes series includes records in audio and visual forms of talks, presentations, interviews, and TV shows in which SaraKay participated on various occasions.
This collection has been organized in the following series and arranged alphabetically except for the last two series:
Correspondence and general
Correspondence with journals and media
Sabbath of Domestic Peace
Tom Harkin for President campaign
Video and audio tapes
SaraKay Cohen Smullens donated the bulk of her personal and professional papers to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. She made additional, incremental gifts of papers in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
- American Group Psychotherapy Association
- Philadelphia College of Performing Arts
- Thomas Jefferson University. Hospital
- Skidmore College
- American Jewish Congress
- University of Pennsylvania. School of Social Work -- General subdivision--Study and teaching.;
- National Catholic School of Social Service (U.S.)
- Goucher College
- Philadelphia Daily News
- Philadelphia Inquirer
- American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work
- Sabbath of Domestic Peace
- Family Service of Philadelphia
- Center City Residents' Association (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- City of Philadelphia. Child Welfare Advisory Board
- University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Kaiyi Chen
- Finding Aid Date
- October 2009
- Access Restrictions
Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Centers. Portions of the collection may be closed.