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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 497

Papers of Fanny Southard Hay Hall, 1860-1967


Writings, letters, scrapbooks, and photographs of prison reformer Fanny Southard (Hay) Hall documenting her childhood and family life, civic work in Cleveland, and social work in New York City during the Depression.


  • Creation: 1860-1967

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Fanny Southard (Hay) Hall is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.83 linear feet ((2 file boxes) plus 3 oversize volumes, 2 folio+ folders, 1 supersize folder, and 11 photograph folders)

These papers have been divided into three series:

Series I, Personal (#1.1-1.16), contains writings, notes, an account book of Fanny and Keppele Hall, and correspondence. Most of the personal information in these papers comes from memoir written by Fanny Southard Hay Hall in 1961, which describes her Red Cross work during the 1913 Dayton Flood and her participation in the Washington, D.C., suffrage parade of the same year. It also recounts her civic work in Cleveland during the early 1920s, the death of her husband, and her work for the Emergency Work Bureau. Information about Hall's childhood can be gained from her unpublished autobiographical story, "A Child's Eye View of Father," which describes her relationship with her father, Malcolm Hay, and his death. Some genealogical information exists in The Diary of Lucy Anne Higbee, a diary kept by Hall's aunt. This version of the diary contains notes about Hall's family tree as well as an inscription by Hall to Keppele Hall. Hall's interest in religion and spirituality is reflected in her annotated prayer book and a notebook from a series of spiritualist lectures. Information about the years following Hall's move to New York and the death of her husband is limited. Evidence that Hall retained her interest in the prison and justice system can be found in "The True Story of Virginia," an article Hall published in The Witness in 1962 about a resident of the Reformatory for Women at Framingham, Mass. Researchers interested in Hall's personal life should also view the three scrapbooks in Series II, which contain some personal information, including letters from publishers and friends regarding the Higbee diary, as well as statements of Gertrude Williams and Hall related to their witnessing of police brutality during a 1919 protest by supporters of Russia in New York City.

The bulk of Series II, Volunteer and Professional Work (#F+D.1-2.16), relates to Hall's civic work in Cleveland during the early 1920s. It contains a notebook, correspondence, and three scrapbooks including letters, clippings, memorabilia, photographs, and printed material. In addition, there are four notebooks from Hall's years at the Emergency Work Bureau in New York. They offer detailed descriptions of her visits to the homes of unemployed workers. These notes appear to correspond to the questionnaire in #2.9.

Series III, Photographs (#PD.1-PD.11), contains photographs of mostly family and friends and documents Hall's travels with her husband Keppele Hall. Also included are photographs of the 1913 Washington, D.C., suffrage parade and the delegates from Dayton, Ohio.

In some cases, original phrases and folder titles have been retained. Quotes have been used to distinguish these phrases and titles from those provided by the processor.

Additional material received in 2013 was added to the collection in October 2013. This material is housed in #PD.11.


Fanny Southard (Hay) Hall was born September 26, 1872, to Malcolm and Virginia (Southard) Hay. She was one of nine children (six of whom survived childhood), including Virginia, Lucy, Edith, Margaret, and Southard. She attended St. Agnes School in Albany, New York, and Bishop Thorpe School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. On April 11, 1896, she married Keppele Hall, Princeton graduate and electrical engineer, in Trenton, New Jersey.

The Halls lived in Maine and Massachusetts before moving to Dayton, Ohio, where, during the flood emergency of 1913, Hall took part in relief efforts undertaken by the American Red Cross. She also became involved in the suffrage movement, and was a member of the board of directors of the Woman's Suffrage Association of Montgomery County, Ohio. She was a member of the Ohio delegation marching in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. During the years before the war, the Halls moved frequently, living in Philadelphia, Bangor, Maine (where Hall continued her Red Cross work), Springfield, Ohio, and South Lancaster, Massachusetts. During World War I, the Halls lived in Washington, D.C., where Keppele Hall was stationed.

After the war, the Halls moved to Cleveland, where Keppele Hall served as production manager for Joseph & Feiff Company. Upon moving to Cleveland, Hall decided she desired her "own career," and became actively involved in a number of Cleveland civic associations. Appalled by her observations of police brutality during her suffrage work, she joined the Women's City Club, and became chair of its courts committee. The courts committee called for an elected public defender, the establishment of a women's bureau within the police department, and the construction of a new courthouse and prison. She worked with numerous other organizations, many of which focused on issues relating to crime and prison reform. She served as treasurer of the Ohio Committee on Penal Conditions and as a board member for the Legal Aid Society and Consumers' League of Ohio. She also participated in the Cleveland Association for Criminal Justice and the League of Women Voters. In 1923, Hall became the first American woman to serve as foreman of a grand jury. An active member of the Women's Council for the Promotion of Peace, she was instrumental in organizing a 1924 peace parade in Cleveland. In addition to her civic work, Hall published the diary of her great aunt, Lucy Ann Higbee, in 1924.

The Halls moved to New York City in 1926, and Keppele Hall died suddenly of influenza shortly thereafter. Hall remained in New York, but she lost a great deal of money in the stock market crash of 1929,and subsequently worked as a home visitor for the Emergency Work Bureau. She continued her civic work as a member of the New York Women's Club and the Consumer League. She retained her lifelong interest in the criminal justice system, and was a frequent visitor to the Reformatory for Women at Framingham, Massachusetts. Hall died in Brattleboro, Vermont, in June 1968.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 91-M189, 91-M218, 2002-M145, 2013-M181

These papers were given to the library by Anne D. Moore between October and November 1991, by Dennis S. Moore in 2002, and by Anne M. Orlando in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed: June 2003

By: Paula Aloisio

Hall, Fanny Southard Hay, 1872-1968. Papers of Fanny Southard Hay Hall, 1860-1967: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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