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Ethel Eyre Valentine Dreier papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00050

Scope and Contents

The Ethel Eyre Valentine Dreier papers include correspondence, writings, miscellaneous clippings, pamphlets, and publications. The material documents Ethel Dreier's life from the time of her marriage to H. Edward Dreier in 1901.

The personal correspondence consists primarily of letters to her husband, H. Edward Dreier, from 1902-38. The early letters describe the daily household activities and concerns of an upper class homemaker, while the later letters describe in limited detail Ethel's work for various social causes. Other correspondence includes letters (1924-55) to Ethel Dreier from Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Alfred E. Smith among others.

Personal papers and writings include manuscript drafts of speeches, reports and meeting agendas, notes, and a description of her solo car trip through 17 states in the summer of 1941. There are also notebooks listing wedding gifts received, and describing gardens at her Long Island home, "Sunken Meadow." Appointment books from 1939-57 briefly note daily activities, as does the travel diary from a European tour with her husband in 1901.

The bulk of professional papers relate to records of the New York state campaign for woman suffrage (1912-17), and records of activities of the Women's City Club of New York (1919-65). Included in the suffrage papers are newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and committee reports on the progress of the woman suffrage movement through the work of the National and New York State Woman Suffrage Associations. Women's City Club of New York records include club calendars, programs, and lists of members. The remainder of the professional papers document Ethel Dreier's work with the Brooklyn Garden Apartments (low cost housing development); the 1937 Fusion Mayoral Campaign to re-elect Fiorello H. LaGuardia; the Garden Club of America; King's Park Central School of Long Island; and Black Mountain College of North Carolina. Included is a scrapbook of newspaper clippings relating to her various social and civic activities.

Remaining records document biographical information such as Ethel Dreier's work for her alma mater, Packer Collegiate Institute; and an 80th birthday celebration folder contains congratulatory correspondence and a biographical sketch written by her children.

Dates of Materials

  • 1875 - 1966


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Ethel Eyre Valentine was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1874. She graduated from Packer Collegiate Institute in 1895. After graduation Ethel organized and became president of Brooklyn's first social settlement, All Sorts and Conditions of Girls. She was also president of the United Neighborhood Guild (consisting of five settlements) and the People's Institute of Brooklyn. She married H. Edward Dreier (brother of Mary Dreier and Margaret Dreier Robins, labor reformers; and Katherine Dreier, artist) on April 18, 1901. The next ten years were primarily dedicated to family life. Her daughters Antoinette Storrs and Dorothea; and sons Theodore and John were born between 1902 and 1909.

In 1912 Dreier was named chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party of Brooklyn. Under her leadership its 23 Assembly Districts were organized. When the women of New York state won suffrage in 1917, Brooklyn cast the largest vote for suffrage of any county in the state. For several years after this victory, she continued in a leadership role group as chairman of the Brooklyn League of Women Voters. From 1924 to 1930, and again from 1932 to 1936, Dreier was president of the Women's City Club of New York. She remained honorary president until her death.

Dreier was also active in housing projects for low-income groups as a member of the Brooklyn Committee for Better Housing. In 1928 she was one of the incorporators of the Brooklyn Garden Apartments, the first limited dividend corporation founded under the state housing law. She was also a founder of the Dreier-Offerman Playground, opened in Brooklyn in 1934. In the New York mayoralty campaign of 1937 Dreier was joint chairman of the Fusion Campaign Committee to re-elect Fiorello H. LaGuardia, and chairman of the campaign's Women's Division. She was invited to serve from 1938-40 on the Executive Committee on Women's Participation in the World's Fair, and on the Women's Committee for Brooklyn for Women's Day at the F air. Throughout her career, Dreier was active in the Brooklyn community as a member of the Civitas Club of Brooklyn, the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and vice-president of the Friends of the Brooklyn Public Library. Dreier also spent several years on the advisory council of Black Mountain College in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Her son Theodore was a founder of the school.

In 1941 the Dreiers celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with their first trip to the West Coast. Later that year Ethel set off on a solo car trip through 17 states to catalogue birds and flowers. Also in 1941, the Dreiers moved permanently into their summer home, "Sunken Meadow," in Fort Salonga, Long Island. Ethel became active in the community as a member of the Garden Club, the Board of the Fort Salonga Association, and the Board of Education. Ethel and Edward celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1951 with their children and eight grandchildren. Edward Dreier died in 1955. Ethel Dreier died in December of 1958.


2.75 linear feet (7 containers)

Language of Materials



Ethel Eyre Valentine Dreier was a settlement house president, suffragist, woman's club leader, and civic leader. The bulk of professional papers relate to Dreier's suffrage work and civic activities. Also documented is Dreier's advocacy of public housing; her work in politics; and her settlement house work. Materials include correspondence, speeches, writings, photographs, notebooks, and travel diaries. The personal correspondence consists primarily of letters to her husband. Other correspondents include Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Alfred E. Smith.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Dreier papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Ethel Dreier and her children between 1951 and 1959.

Processing Information

Processed by Elizabeth Duvall in 1967. Revised in 1994 by Leslie Fields and Amy Hague. Finding aid revised in 2002 by Brook Hopkins, intern.
Finding aid to the Ethel Eyre Valentine Dreier papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Elizabeth Duvall, Leslie Fields and Amy Hague.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss127 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:11-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-03-25: Made FA pencil edit changes and updated finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063