Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Arrangement Note

Conditions of Access and Use

Administrative Information

Search Terms

Box Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence. 1880-1950.

Series B. Manuscripts. 1895-1951.

Series C. Notes. 1885-1945.

Series D. Personal Material. 1858-1949.

Series E. Nearprint. 1885-1948.

A Finding Aid to the Annie Nathan Meyer Papers. 1858-1951 (bulk 1885-1948).

Manuscript Collection No. 7


Repository: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Creator: Meyer, Annie Nathan, 1867-1951
Title: Annie Nathan Meyer Papers
Dates: 1858-1951
Bulk Dates: 1885-1948
Quantity: 10.4 linear feet (22 Hollinger boxes, 1 oversize box)
Abstract: The Annie Nathan Meyer Papers include correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, clippings, reports, addresses and miscellaneous items, which record the major activities of Ms. Meyer's life.
Collection Number: MS-7
Language: Collection material in English.

Biographical Sketch

Annie Nathan Meyer

Annie Nathan Meyer was born in New York City on February 19, 1867, the youngest daughter of Annie Florence Nathan (d. 1878) and Robert Weeks Nathan (d. 1888). She had one sister, Maud, and two brothers, Robert and Nathan (d. 1941). The Nathan family is of notable U.S. heritage, being descendants of Gershom Mendes Seixas, the minister of New York's Congregation Shearith Israel during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin N. Cardozo and Emma Lazarus, two of Meyer's contemporaries, were distant cousins.

Ms. Meyer spent her entire life in New York City except for a brief period in her childhood when, due to an 1875 stock market crash, the Nathan family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin. They remained in the midwest until Annie Florence Nathan's death in 1878, when they again took up permanent residence in New York. Meyer attended public schools in both the midwest and New York. Upon her sister's marriage in 1881, however, she left school before graduation in order to assume the management of the Nathan household.

In 1885, upon passing the entrance examinations, Ms. Meyer entered the Collegiate Course for Women at Columbia University. She soon discovered that the standard education for men was not to be gleaned from this "collegiate course." Upon her marriage to Dr. Alfred Meyer on February 15, 1887, she left the university to continue independently her education and the development of her literary talents. By the end of that year, she decided to rectify the situation and, with the support of Melvil Dewey, she resolved to create an entire college for women in New York City.

The campaign for the establishment of New York's first women's college officially began with an article by Annie Nathan Meyer in the January 28, 1888 issue of Nation. Throughout the rest of that year, Ms. Meyer devoted herself to personally obtaining the approval and funding for the school. A memorial resolution to the Columbia Board of Trustees, written by Melvil Dewey, Mary Mapes Dodge and Annie Nathan Meyer, containing fifty signatures, gained sanction for the founding of a women's affiliate college to Columbia University. Donations from Alfred Meyer, John D. Rockefeller and others provided the funds to establish the school. On October 7, 1889, Barnard College, named in honor of the Columbia University president who had struggled for the higher education of women, formally opened its doors with an enrollment of seven.

Ms. Meyer remained in close contact with Barnard College throughout the rest of her life. She was a member of its Board of Trustees from 1893 through 1942. Her daughter, Margaret, graduated from Barnard in 1915. The Annie Nathan Meyer Drama Library was established in honor of her 70th birthday in 1937 and special tribute was given to her at the college's 50th anniversary celebration in 1939. In 1941 and 1942, Meyer organized two art exhibits, the Cape Cod Portrait Exhibit and the Parade of Patriots Art Exhibit, to provide funds for Barnard College scholarships.

Beyond her association with Barnard, Meyer also participated in many other contemporary causes. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she was active in the American anti-suffrage movement to the extent that she was regarded by some as the vice-president of the U.S. anti-suffragettes. This seeming contradiction, in light of her fight for women's education, her chairing of the literary committee of the World's Fair Women's Congress in 1893, and her participation in the National Council of Women in the United States in 1889, is explained in her numerous writings during that period (i.e. "Woman's Assumption of Sex Superiority," "Women Not Fitted for Politics," and "The Dominant Sex"). Basically, Ms. Meyer was alienated by the claim that in giving women the vote, all violence and social wrongs would be ended. And she saw no reason for women to infiltrate the male sphere of things and vice-versa. It should be noted, though, that once the 19th Amendment was passed, Meyer accepted her new responsibilites and worked with the League of Women Voters to encourage educated voting.

In 1916, Ms. Meyer became active in the Emergency Committee of the American Home Economics Association, which was formed in response to World War I and the shortages that war would force upon the American household. Ms. Meyer became chair of the Committee in July 1917 and continued until the Committee's demise in 1918. In this capacity, she supervised the making of the film, Cheating the Garbage Pail, which attempted to eradicate the waste in contemporary American kitchens, and also aided with the promotion of Herbert Hoover's post-war food savings program.

Ms. Meyer's other activities included her 1906 article "What American Museums are Doing for American Art," which showed the lack of native art in most American institutions and a 1938 update survey; her help with the presentation of Ernest Bloch's "Sacred Music" in New York in 1934; her persuasion of Thomas Addis Emmet to sell his notable historical library intact to the New York Public Library; her participation in the National Conference of Christians and Jews; and her success in 1933 in securing the Javis portrait of Isaac Moses for the Museum of the City of New York. Throughout her life, Ms. Meyer was also an active contributor to "letters to the editor" columns, where she expressed her opinion on a variety of issues.

Since childhood Annie Nathan Meyer was interested in a literary career. Despite her many interests, she was able to fulfill this desire through numerous published articles, short stories, novels and plays. As early as 1888, her articles were published in Nation and Woman. In 1893, her first novel, Helen Brent M.D., was published anonymously by Cassell. In 1911, she copyrighted her first play, The Advertising of Kate. As a writer, Meyer was a member of many literary and drama organizations such as the Dramatist's Guild of the Author's League of America, Inc., the New York Auxiliary of the League of American Pen Women, and the Playwright Committee of the Manhattan Little Theatre. She was also able to help her nephew, Robert Nathan, establish a literary career of his own. (A selective list of Ms. Meyer's works may be seen in the appendices of this inventory).

Annie Nathan Meyer died on September 23, 1951 in New York City, the last survivor of the Alfred Meyer family. Her daughter, Margaret Meyer Cohen, preceded her in death on September 13, 1923 as did her husband, Alfred Meyer, on July 14, 1950.

Scope and Content Note

The Annie Nathan Meyer Papers include correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, clippings, reports, addresses and miscellaneous items, which record the major activities of Ms. Meyer's life.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in five (5) series:

  • Series A. Correspondence. 1880-1950.
  • Series B. Manuscripts. 1895-1951.
  • Series C. Notes. 1885-1945.
  • Series D. Personal Material. 1858-1949.
  • Series E. Nearprint. 1895-1948.

Conditions of Access and Use

Terms of Access

The collection is open for use; no restrictions apply.

Terms of Reproduction and Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce, with exceptions for fair use, may be obtained through the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio. Please address queries to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. For more information, see the American Jewish Archives copyright information webpage.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Footnotes and bibliographic references should refer to the Annie Nathan Meyer Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:

[Description], [Date], Annie Nathan Meyer Papers, MS-7, Box [#], Folder [#]. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.


The Annie Nathan Meyer Papers were received from Joseph Solomon, of Lehman, Goldmark, and Rohrlich, Attorneys-at-Law, New York, N.Y., in November 1951.

Processing Information

Processed by M. Carolyn Dellenbach, November 1976.

Box Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence. 1880-1950.
Scope and Content Note: Consists of the general and topical files of Ms. Meyer. The general files contain Ms. Meyer's correspondence regarding her literary career and her participation in various social movements. Ms. Meyer's correspondence with significant American literary figures along with her numerous "letters to the editor" are contained in these files.
The topical correspondence files represent the correspondents and subjects which Meyer considered to be of major importance. Thus, for example, her correspondence with Benjamin N. Cardozo is found in these files.
Arrangement Note: General files are arranged chronologically. Topical correspondence is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.
Box Folder
1 1 1880-1894.
1 2 1895-1906.
1 3 1907-1919.
1 4 1920-1921.
1 5 1922.
1 6 1923-1924.
1 7 1925-1926.
Box Folder
2 1 1927-1928.
2 2 1929-1930.
2 3 1931-1932.
2 4 1933.
2 5 January-June 1934.
2 6 August 1934-May 1935.
2 7 June 1935-1936.
2 8 1937-November 1938.
Box Folder
3 1 December 1938.
3 2 1939.
3 3 1940-1941.
3 4 1942-1943.
3 5 1944-1945.
3 6 1946-1949.
3 7-8 Undated.
Box Folder
4 1-2 Undated.
4 3 Fragments. undated.
4 4 American Home Economics Association. 1916-July 1917.
4 5 American Home Economics Association. August 1917-1918; undated.
4 6 Barnard Beginnings. 1934-November 1935.
4 7 Barnard Beginnings. December 1935-1948.
4 8-10 Barnard College. 1923-1942.
[Correspondence; Resolutions; Addresses]
Box Folder
5 1-2 Barnard College. 1943-1950; undated.
[Correspondence; resolutions; addresses]
5 3-6 Barnard College. Board of Trustees. 1894; 1936-1950; undated.
[Correspondence; minutes; reports]
5 6 Barnard College. Yearbook. 1936.
Box Folder
6 1 Black Souls. 1924-August 1932.
6 2 Black Souls. September 1932-1948; undated.
6 3-6 Cape Cod Portrait exhibit. 1940-1941; undated.
6 7 Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan. 1920-1937.
6 8 Columbia University. Committee on Jewish Students. 1933 1949.
[Correspondence; reports]
Box Folder
7 1-2 Gildersleeve, Virginia C. 1908-1946; undated.
7 3 Hurston, Zora Neale. 1923-1941. undated.
7 4 The New Way. 1923-1928; undated.
7 5-8 Parade of Patriots exhibit. 1941-1942; undated.
Series B. Manuscripts. 1895-1951.
Scope and Content Note: Contains the hand-written and typescript copies of many of Ms. Meyer's published and unpublished works
Arrangement Note: Arranged into three (3) subseries: Subseries 1. Monographs, Subseries 2. Plays, and Subseries 3. Short Stories, Sketches, Essays, and Addresses. Each subseries is alphabetically arranged.
Subseries 1. Monographs.
Scope and Content Note: For a complete list of Ms. Meyer's monographs and plays, please consult Appendix A .
Box Folder
8 1-2 "At the Sign of the Crown and Ship; A Tale of the New York Province."circa 1895.
8 3 "At the Sign of the Crown and Ship; A Tale of the New York Province." "Ethan Orwell Notes." circa 1895.
8 4 "The Gallery-Goer's Book."circa 1943.
8 5-6 It's Been Fun. 1951.
Box Folder
9 1 "Moments."circa 1931.
9 2 "Moments." "Index". circa 1931.
9 3 "Nature's Way."1925.
Subseries 2. Plays.
Scope and Content Note: For a complete list of Ms. Meyer's monographs and plays, please consult Appendix A .
Box Folder
9 4 "The Advertising of Kate."1911 [copyright date].
9 5 "Barchester Towers."undated.
9 6 Black Souls. 1925.
9 7 "Cousin Fritz."1942?.
9 8 "A Dinner of Herbs."1908.
[Title changed to The Dreamer, circa 1912.]
9 9 "The District Attorney."circa 1920.
9 10 "Due Unto Others."undated.
9 11 "Fifth Avenue."1930 [Copyright date].
Box Folder
10 1 "Full Circle."circa 1934.
[Title changed to "Genesis I." 27 in 1945.]
10 2 "Furlough."circa 1944.
10 3 "Genesis I." 27. 1945.
[Title changed from "Full Circle" in 1945.]
10 4 "Get Her Married" by Shirley Dare [Pseudonym]. undated.
10 5 "The Giftie."undated.
10 6 "Mrs. Doctor."undated.
10 7 "Paula."undated.
10 8 "Puppets."1923.
10 9 "The Right to Dream."circa 1922.
10 10 "Soundings."circa 1937.
10 11 "The Span."circa 1922.
10 12 "The Spur."undated.
10 13 "Windfall."1943.
Box Folder
11 1 "Women's Wiles."1944.
11 2 Synopses of plays to be written. undated.
Subseries 3. Short Stories, Sketches, Essays and Addresses.
Scope and Content Note: For a complete listing of Ms. Meyer's short stories, sketches, essays, and addresses, please consult Appendix B .
Box Folder
11 3 "Again Spreadhenism" through "Atlanta."
11 4 "A Bid from the Blue" through "Do We Need Emerson Today?"
11 5 "George Eliot" through "How to Read a Play."
11 6 "Law and Order" through "My Refugee Cousin."
11 7 "The New Puritan" through "A Parodox for Playgoers."
11 8 "The Pecan-man and Other Vendors" through "The Returned Job."
Box Folder
12 1 "The Scalpel" through "Swinging Too Far."
12 2 "Then and Now" through "Yetta."
12 3 Untitled. 1913; undated.
12 4 Fragments. 1940; undated.
Series C. Notes. 1885-1945.
Scope and Content Note: Consists of Ms. Meyer's bound notebooks, journals, and loose notes concerning her research on various topics, her impressions of some of her readings and activities, and her day-to-day thoughts. Many of the bindings were in poor condition. When processed, they were taken apart and any empty pages removed.
Arrangement Note: The general notes are arranged chronologically, and are followed by the subject notes which are alphabetically arranged.
Box Folder
12 5 1885-1895.
12 6 1902-1921.
Box Folder
13 1 1923; 1931.
13 2 1933.
13 3 1943; 1945.
13 4-5 Undated.
Box Folder
14 1-2 Undated.
14 3 Art and sculpture. undated.
14 4 "By the Way" notebooks. 1921-1933.
14 5 Music. undated.
14 6 "On Margaret Fuller. "circa 1926.
Series D. Personal Material. 1858-1949.
Arrangement Note: Arranged in two (2) subseries: Subseries 1. Correspondence and Subseries 2. Iconographic Material.
Subseries 1. Correspondence. 1858-1949.
Scope and Content Note: The Correspondence subseries contains Ms. Meyer's correspondence with, and, or about her family on personal matters. Meyer's correspondence with her nephew, Robert Nathan, the noted U.S. novelist and poet, is contained in these files.
Arrangement Note: The subseries is alphabetically arranged.
Box Folder
16 1 Cohen, Ira [Son-in-law]. 1923 1944; undated.
16 2 Cohen, Margaret Meyer [Daughter]. 1894-1898.
[Baby book]
16 3 Cohen, Margaret Meyer [Daughter]. 1900-1924.
16 4 Meyer, Alfred [Husband]. Letters from Annie Nathan Meyer. 1887-1940.
16 5 Meyer, Alfred [Husband]. Letters from Annid Nathan Meyer. undated.
16 6 Meyer, Alfred [Husband]. Letters to Annie Nathan Meyer. 1890-1940; undated.
16 7 Nathan Family. 1858-1939; undated.
16 8 Nathan, Harold and Sally [Brother and sister-in-law]. 1890-1944; undated.
Box Folder
17 1 Nathan, Lucy, Nancy and Janet [Robert's three wives]. 1930-1947; undated.
17 2 Nathan, Maud Nathan [Sister]. 1890-1942; undated.
17 3 Nathan, Robert [Nephew]. 1910-1949.
17 4-5 Nathan, Robert [Nephew]. undated.
17 6 Unidentified. 1886-1898; 1936; undated.
17 7-8 Wedding anniversary, 50th. 1937.
Box Folder
18 1 Wedding anniversary, 60th. 1947.
Subseries 2. Iconographic Material. 1876-circa 1949.
Scope and Content Note: Contains photographs, postcards, and one folder of miscellaneous items. The photographs, which are arranged by size, are of the Nathan-Meyer family, their friends and the various places they lived or visited. The postcards, which Meyer apparently collected, are from both America and abroad.
Box Folder
18 2-5 Photographs. 1876-circa 1949.
18 6 Postcard collection. 1920-1939.
Box Folder
19 1 Postcard collection. 1920-1939.
19 2 Miscellaneous.
Series E. Nearprint. 1885-1948.
Scope and Content Note: Consists of loose clippings and scrapbooks of clippings, articles and programs pertinent to Ms. Meyer's family and interests. Although many of the scrapbook bindings were removed because of their deterioration, their original continuity has been kept intact.
Arrangement Note: Arranged in two (2) subseries: Subseries 1. Scrapbooks and Subseries 2. Clippings.
Subseries 1. Scrapbooks. 1885-1948.
Box Folder
19 3 1885-1889.
19 4 1888-1904.
19 5 1889-1899.
Box Folder
20 1 1913-1918.
20 2 1920-1922.
20 3 1921-1928.
[With index]
Box Folder
21 1 1936-1941.
21 2 1938-1943.
21 3 undated.
[Plays and playwrights]
Box Folder
X-15 1 1909-1912.
X-15 2 1931-1934.
X-15 3 1934-1937.
X-15 4 1947-1948.
Subseries 2. Clippings. 1901-1944.
23 1901-1944.

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the AJA Online Catalog.

Persons and Families

Hurston, Zora Neale -- Correspondence
Meyer, Annie Nathan, -- 1867-1951 -- Manuscripts -- Photographs


Barnard College


American fiction -- Jewish authors
Jewish authors -- New York (N.Y.)
Jewish women -- New York (N.Y.)
Women authors, American

Genres and Forms