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COLLECTION Identifier: 59-4--2014-M186; T-101

Papers of Agnes Goldman Sanborn, 1752-1984 (inclusive), 1808-1984 (bulk)


Photographs, correspondence, genealogical and biographical materials of Agnes (Goldman) Sanborn, bacteriologist and civic activist.


  • 1752-1984
  • Majority of material found within 1808-1984

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Agnes Goldman Sanborn 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.


5 linear feet ((5 cartons) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 12 photograph folders, 2 audiocassettes)

This multi-generational collection of family papers is divided into the following three series:

I. Photographs of Agnes Goldman Sanborn, Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn, and their families, #1-12

II. Papers of Agnes (Goldman) Sanborn #13-78, T-101.1-2. Biographical and autobiographical material on the Adler-Goldman families; genealogical data; personal correspondence of Agnes Goldman Sanborn with friends and family documenting Sanborn's college career at Bryn Mawr, work with the American Red Cross in Palestine, courtship, marriage and family life, and later career as civic activist and volunteer; also included are Sanborn's scientific publications and an oral history.

III. Papers of Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn, #79-200f. Clippings; genealogical data about the Sanborn, Brewster, Hobbs, Knight, and Hodgdon families; 19th century Sanborn family papers including Civil War diary of Colonel Cyrus King Sanborn; correspondence between Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn and his mother, wife, and daughter; professional correspondence and publications; papers of Sarah (Sanborn) Moench.

Additional material (2014-M186) was added to the collection (T-101 , and to folders #3, 43, 61, 67, 92, and 97) in December 2014. Also added were a previously unlisted folio (#200f) and oversize folder (#199o).


Agnes (Goldman) Sanborn, bacteriologist and civic activist, was born in New York City on August 30, 1887, the youngest daughter of Julius Goldman and Sarah (Adler) Goldman. Sanborn attended the Sachs School for Boys and Girls, founded by her uncle Julius Sachs, and received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College (1909), A.M. from Columbia University (1913) and Ph.D. from New York University (1923). She joined the American Red Cross during World War I and served in Palestine as a bacteriologist, 1918-1919. After the war she was employed by the New York Board of Health and then held a fellowship from Bryn Mawr at the Phipps Institute in Philadelphia, 1924-1925. She married Ashton Sanborn, whom she had met in Palestine, on December 25, 1924, and continued her work in Philadelphia until the end of the year. After moving to Boston she worked at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital. When the Sanborns' daughter Sarah was born in 1928, Sanborn gave up her work as a bacteriologist and turned to volunteer work. She was first vice-president of the Cambridge League of Women Voters, was editor of its publication Items, and helped to organize League of Women Voters lobbying for the Lend Lease Act in Massachusetts. In the late 1930s and 1940s she was involved in refugee work with the United Jewish Appeal and Spanish Refugee Aid. She was co-founder and later president of the Cambridge Community Center, and a member of the Home Industries Department and the Alliance of Settlements. She supported civil rights and civil liberties through the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.

In 1933 the Sanborns moved from Boston to 7 Meadow Lane, Cambridge, to enable their daughter to attend Shady Hill School. They then lived at 147 Brattle Street (1940-1970); following her husband's death, Sanborn moved to 1010 Memorial Drive. She died in 1984.

Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn, archaeologist and museum administrator, was born in Rochester, New Hampshire, on March 13, 1882, the only child of George Hobbs Sanborn and Lillian Knight (Hodgdon) Sanborn. The Sanborns were a long-established New Hampshire family who traced their ancestry back to Alfred the Great. On the death of his father in 1888, Lillian Knight (Hodgdon) Sanborn and Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn moved to Massachusetts and Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn attended Somerville Latin High School. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard in 1905, attended the Harvard Graduate School, 1907-1909, and received his A.M. in 1908. He held a number of fellowships at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1909-1912 (where he was also executive secretary, 1911-1912), including the Charles Eliot Norton fellowship from Harvard, 1909-1910, and the Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. He studied at the University of Munich in Germany (1913-1914), traveled extensively in Greece, and took part in excavations at Corinth and elsewhere. He was appointed Assistant Field Director of the University Museum (Philadelphia) expedition to Egypt, 1915-1920, with leave of absence 1918-1919, when he served as executive secretary to the American Red Cross Commission to Palestine. From 1920-1925 he was editorial secretary to Dr. George A. Reisner, leader of the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Egyptian expedition. In 1923 he was appointed librarian of the MFA and, in 1925, Secretary of the Museum. He was editor of the Boston Museum Bulletin, 1925-1952, and Education Officer, 1934-1942. On his retirement he became editor of the Newsletter of the American Research Center in Egypt. His publications include book reviews and articles on Egyptian archaeology, many published in the Boston Museum Bulletin.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Photographs of Goldman-Sanborn Families
  2. Series II. Papers of Agnes Goldman Sanborn
  3. Series III. Papers of Cyrus Ashton Rollins Sanborn

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 59-4, 77-M214, 85-M120, 2014-M186

This collection was given to the Schlesinger Library by Agnes Goldman Sanborn in December 1958, December 1977, and by Sarah (Sanborn) Moench, daughter of Agnes Goldman Sanborn, in June 1985. Additional material was given by Katherine Hall Page, a cousin of Ashton Sanborn, in December 2014, and was added to the collection at that time.


  1. Carton 1: Folders 13-56
  2. Carton 2: Folders 57-109
  3. Carton 3: Folders 110-130
  4. Carton 4: Folders 131-162
  5. Carton 5: Folders 163-198

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: February 1986

By: Jane S. Knowles

Updated: December 2014

By: Anne Engelhart

Sanborn, Agnes Goldman, 1887-1984. Papers of Agnes Goldman Sanborn, 1752-1984 (inclusive), 1808-1984 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women
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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