Anna Rochester papers , 1880-1958

Overview of the Collection

Rochester, Anna
Anna Rochester papers
1880-1958 (inclusive)
4.25 linear feet, (13 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 624
Anna Rochester (1880-1966) was a social worker, Marxist economist, and historian. In 1920, she and five other women, including her partner Grace Hutchins, established a commune in New York City that operated for two years. In 1927, she helped found the Labor Research Association with Grace Hutchins. The collection contains correspondence, which includes letters from Ella R. Bloor, Edith McGrath, and Vida Scudder; a journal, 1880 to 1918; literary manuscripts, genealogical materials, and photographs.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Labor reformer and communist intellectual Anna Rochester was born in New York City in 1880. She was the great granddaughter of the founder of Rochester, New York. Journals kept by her mother reveal that from a very early age, Anna was intuitive and intelligent, taking an interest in things that were 'inappropriate' for her age and gender. While attending both Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University, she became a Marxist scholar, proclaiming herself a socialist in 1910. From 1912 until 1915, she wrote and edited for the National Labor Child Committee and from 1922-1926, she was the editor of a pacifist magazine, The World Tomorrow.

From 1920-1922, Anna and five other women formed a community house. One of these women was Grace Hutchins with whom Rochester would spend the rest of her life. According to Janet Lee (Hutchins' and Rochester's biographer), Hutchins and Rochester "were a part of [a] cohort of women whose commitment to social activism was integrated with their lesbian orientation."

Rochester and Hutchins set out on a worldwide quest to examine the status of women and socialism in other countries. Returning to the United States in 1927, the two founded the Labor Research Association in New York City.

Rochester spent much of her life striving for the rights of children, women and the working class. She was most revered for her literature, which brought ideas to the surface that were new and unusual even among well-read people. The most well known of her books are Labor and Coal, Lenin and the Agrarian Question, The Populist Movement in the United States, Why Farmers are Poor, Capitalism and Progress and the one having the largest impact, Rulers of America. Besides monographs, Anna wrote many articles and pamphlets concerning the labor movement and the impact of capitalism.

In 1966, Anna Rochester died in the home that she shared with Grace Hutchins. Grace was by her side at the time of her death and preserved her correspondence, literary manuscripts, family memorabilia and other materials that document her life. Together with the Grace Hutchins papers, this collection provides a view of the life and times of Anna Rochester.

Source: Lee, Janet. Comrades and Partners: The Shared Lives of Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Anna Rochester Papers includes a journal that was kept by her mother for the first 20 years of her life as well as many photographs from her youth. There are photos also of the community house that Anna lived in (as well as records). The correspondence contained in this collection is quite extensive, ranging from personal to strongly political.

The majority of the Rochester collection constitutes records of her work as a writer. There are reviews and articles that were written in response to her work as well as letters from the publishing companies about her. Many of her first drafts and research material are also present.

The work itself in this collection consists of articles and reviews written by Anna as well as pamphlets and books (Summary of Child Welfare Laws, Facilities for Children's Play in the District of Columbia, Juvenile Delinquency in Certain Countries at War, Child Labor in Warring Countries, Street Workers, What the Government Says about Cotton Mills, What State Laws and the Federal Circuit Say about Child Labor, More Protection for Working Children, Baby Week Campaigns, Children at Work on Men's Clothing, Mental Defectiveness in New Castle County Delaware, Newspapers and Child Labor, Why Farmers are Poor, Farmers and the War, American Capitalism, Labor and Coal, The Nature of Capitalism, The Populist Movement in the United States and versions of these in Japanese and Russian).

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • American literature--20th century
  • Communal living--New York (State)
  • Lesbian activists--New York (State)
  • Women authors, American--Political and social views
  • Women communists--New York (State)
  • Women labor leaders--New York (State)
  • Women social reformers--New York (State)

Personal Names

  • Bloor, Ella Reeve, 1862-1951
  • Hutchins, Grace, 1885-1969
  • Rochester, Anna
  • Rochester, Anna

Corporate Names

  • Labor Research Association (U.S.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence