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Stella Hanau papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00073

Scope and Contents

The Stella Bloch Hanau Papers consist of 4 linear ft. and are related to her personal and professional life, dating from 1890 to 1990. Types of materials include correspondence, datebooks, employment records, news clippings, photographs, publications, publicity materials, theatrical playbills and programs, and memorabilia. The papers are arranged in three series:


The bulk of the Papers date from 1910 to 1970 and consist in large part of correspondence. Approximately half of the correspondence is with family, especially Hanau's son Richard, his wife Laia, and their daughter Loren Michael. The rest of the correspondence is with Hanau's friends and associates in experimental theatre, the birth control movement, the Works Progress Administration (1930s), and in editing and publishing. Printed material includes birth control and WPA publications edited by Hanau as well as playbills from her theatre publicity days. Also included is biographical information, memorabilia, photographs, and material about Hanau's book, co-authored with Helen Deutsch, The Provincetown: A Story of the Theatre (1931).

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1890-1990


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works in this collection created by Stella Bloch Hanau. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Stella Hanau was an editor, publicist, and birth control activist.

Stella was born in New York, New York, on July 24, 1890. Her father, Edward Bloch (1852-1933), and mother, Elizabeth Long (1861-1928), moved to New York from Alabama in 1882 after their cotton business sustained heavy losses. In New York, Edward Bloch went into the silk business, although family lore indicates that he was not a good businessman. Stella had three older brothers: Alexander (1881-1983), Samson Friedrich (1885-1936), and Eugene Godfrey (1888-1974). According to a biographical sketch by Stella's son, Richard Hanau, while Stella considered herself an agnostic, the family identified as Jewish though they did not attend temple or observe holidays.

After attending Wadleigh High School in Manhattan, Hanau earned a B.A. in English Literature from Barnard in 1911. While attending college she was secretary-treasurer for the Barnard chapter of the Collegiate Equal Suffrage League of New York, participated in the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, Deutscher Kreis, and the College Settlements Association. She also joined a variety of theatre groups and participated in productions. Just before college she met Hella Bernays, Sigmund Freud's niece, and the two became lifelong friends and collaborators.

In 1914 Stella married Leo Hanau (1884-1969), a New York City stockbroker. Originally from Mainz, Germany, Leo immigrated to New York in 1906, but remained a German citizen until the beginning of World War II. The Hanaus had a son, Richard, in 1918. They separated in 1921 and divorced in 1930.

During the 1920s Hanau acted as a press agent and publicity manager for several "experimental" theatres in New York City. These included the Greenwich Village Theatre and Neighborhood Playhouse, Playwrights Theater, and Provincetown Playhouse. Stella also co-authored, with Helen Deutsch, The Provincetown: A Story of the Theatre, in 1931 and managed Paul Robeson's first concert. Throughout her life she wrote and published playbills, press releases, and similar material related to theatre.

Hanau was also involved in the suffrage and birth control movements. She was editor of the Birth Control Review (1929-1933), editor and director of publications for the American Birth Control League (1933-1935), and educational director of the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control (1935-1938). During her stint with the Birth Control Review, Hanau became friends with social service personnel and notable women in the birth control movement including Kitty Marion, Margaret Sanger, and early workers at Planned Parenthood. When Margaret Sanger left the American Birth Control League in 1935, Hanau left with her to work on publicity for Sanger in Washington.

Following her nearly fourteen years working for Margaret Sanger, Hanau went to work for the U.S. government. She was a staff editor for the Federal Writer's Project under the Works Progress Administration (1938-1942), an Information Specialist for the War Production Board (1942-1945), and Chief Copy Editor at the Department of Commerce (1945-49). She returned to New York City in 1949 where she worked as a free-lance editor. Among other projects, she collaborated with her lifelong friend Hella Bernays on the translation, indexing and editing of psychiatry books.

Stella Bloch Hanau died at age 81 on April 23, 1972, in Chelsea, New York.


3.522 linear feet (10 containers)


Editor; Publicist; Birth control activist. Correspondence with family and associates in the birth control movement and the Works Progress Administration (1930s); birth control and WPA publications edited by Hanau; biographical information, memorabilia, photographs, and material for her book, The Provincetown: A Story of a Theatre (1931).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Stella Hanau's son, Richard Hanau, donated Stella Bloch Hanau's papers to the Sophia Smith Collection from 1971 to 1992, with a final addition in 2004.

Related Materials

Additional papers of Stella Bloch Hanau and Alexander and Blanche Bloch are housed at Barnard College and the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center.

Processing Information

Processed by Alexandra Bush, 13 April 2016

Stella Hanau papers
Finding Aid
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 (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:14-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063