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Edna Gellhorn Papers

Identifier: WUA-03-wua00118

Scope and Contents

The papers (1850-1970, bulk 1880-1970) of Mrs. Edna Gellhorn, civic leader, reformer, and first vice president of the National League of Women Voters, include correspondence, general files, scrapbooks, appointment calendars, and miscellany.  The files cover primarily materials from the 1880s through the 1960s. Included are information files on the League of Women Voters and the American Association for the United Nations. Additional material includes files and scrapbooks documenting her activities as a member of the Women's Central Committee on Food Conservation, 1917-1919; Consumer's Milk Commission, 1930-1942; Smoke Elimination Committee, 1940; City Government Institute of St. Louis, 1941; promotion of the merit system in civil service, 1935-1943; and the Greater St. Louis Citizen's Committee for Nuclear Information, 1957-1962. The files also include materials pertaining to the Gellhorn and Fischel families.

Also included in the collection are photocopies of her correspondence with Eleanor Roosevelt from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, 4079 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, New York 12538. There are also photocopies of Edna Gellhorn Papers from the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College, 3 James Street, Cambridge, Mass. The Gellhorn Collection consists of eighteen boxes, plus an oversize section. 


  • 1850-1970


Conditions Governing Access

There are some restrictions to access.  For details contact the University Archivist at (314) 935-9730.

Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Biographical Information

Edna Fischel Gellhorn, a St. Louis civic leader and widow of Dr. George Gellhorn, internationally known gynecologist of the medical faculty of Washington University, was born in St. Louis December 18, 1878, and in her community betterment activities had followed in the steps of her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Washington E. Fischel. She attended Mary Institute.  She was graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1900, served as lifetime president of her class, and was an elected trustee of the college.

She was active in the women's suffrage movement and n 1920 became a founder and first vice president of the National League of Women Voters. She also served on the national League’s board and as president of the St. Louis and Missouri Leagues.  Mrs. Gellhorn helped form and worked actively in the United Nations Association, the National Municipal League, and the American Association of University Women. During World War I, she served as regional director of the food rationing programs.  She was also a Civil Service Commissioner, and had worked vigorously to achieve the merit system and other moves to improve public services. She had served on the St. Louis Board of Children's Guardians and on the Board of the St. Louis Urban League.  Reforms which she actively worked to achieve were the Missouri minimum wage law, improved educational facilities, elimination of child labor and improved election laws.  She was one of the founders of John Burroughs School and was the first president of the College Club. In 1968, Washington University created the Edna Fischel Gellhorn Professorship of Public Affairs, a chair endowed by admirers.

At age 79, she was selected as Woman of Achievement by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Edna Gellhorn died September 24, 1970 at the age of 92.


19.00 Linear Feet

24 boxes (1 drawer)

Language of Materials



This collection is divided into eleven series as follows:

Series 01: League of Women Voters (arranged alphabetically by subject)

Series 02: United Nations (arranged alphabetically by subject)

Series 03: General Files (arranged alphabetically by subject)

Series 04: Correspondence (arranged chronologically 1896-1970, plus undated)

Series 05: Gellhorn Family (arranged alphabetically by last name then by subject)

Series 06: Fischel Family  (arranged alphabetically by last name then by subject)

Series 07: Miscellaneous  (arranged by material type)

Series 08: Scrapbooks, Publications, Tape of Speech (arranged by material type)

Series 09: Posters, Photographs, and Miscellaneous (arranged by material type, size and then alphabetically)

Series 10: Photocopies of Correspondence between Edna Gellhorn and Eleanor Roosevelt, 1935 – 1962 from Hyde Park Library

Series 11: Photocopies of materials in the Gellhorn Collection, Women's Archive, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.

Method of Acquisition

This material was donated to University Archives by Walter Gellhorn in 1970, by Mrs. Alfred (Olga) Gellhorn in 1975, and by Martha Gellhorn (granddaughter of Edna Gellhorn) in 1970, 1971, and 1996.

Processing Information

Processed by Jay Kempen and Sarah Pabarcus in January 2006.  Series 09 updated June 2009 by Miranda Rectenwald and Jane Fiegen. Updated in Spring 2016 by Miranda Rectenwald.
Edna Gellhorn Papers
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Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 26: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495