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Grace Hutchins
(August 19, 1885 - July 1969) USA

Grace Hutchins

Activist, educator

Anna Rochester
(March 30, 1880 - May 11, 1966) USA

Anna Rochester

Activist, ecomomist, historian


Grace Hutchins was a labor reformer and researcher, journalist, political activist and communist. She spent many years of her life writing about labor and economics, in addition to being a lifelong dedicated member of the Communist Party, along with Anna Rochester, a Marxist economist and historian and her companion of 45 years. Together they were known for promoting radical Christian pacifism in the United States, although Hutchins was also regularly involved in strikes, demonstrations and labor disputes. Hutchins and Rochester shared a history that is an inspiring and complex story of bold activism and passionate personal relationships.


Grace Hutchins was born in an upper class family in Boston. Her ancestors, originally from England, had settled in Massachusetts during the colonial period. Her father was an attorney who helped found the Legal Aid Society, while her mother was involved in various hospitals in the city; they were both actively involved in the Episcopal Trinity Church.

Grace was privately educated, and accompanied her parents on a world tour from 1898 to 1899. She then attended the women's college at Bryn Mawr, which was relatively new at the time. During her college life, she "excelled" in basketball, field hockey, and tennis. Outside of sports, she was also involved in advocating for women's suffrage. She graduated in 1907, and remained in touch with her classmates later in life.

Within a few years of leaving college, Grace Hutchins became an Episcopalian missionary teacher for Church Missionary Society in China. During her stay in China, Hutchins became ill and returned to the United Statess. Back in the United States, she was employed by a social training school.

In response to the ongoing Great War, Hutchins took an anti-interventionist position and began shifting toward socialism in her political stance. When the US entered the war with the Allies in 1917, she found herself in protests against the war. Her political stance impacted her private life, and nearly led to her dismissal from the school where she was employed.

Living in New York, Grace Hutchins met Anna Rochester in 1919 at a annual retreat when she joined the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross through her involvement with teaching the New Testament. Both Grace and Anna were firm adherents to the doctrine of nonviolence, and in 1920 Grace joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which promoted pacifism in the United States. She became a secretary and public speaker for the organization. She served as a press secretary from 1924 to 1926, during which time she also served as a business executive while actively contributing to the monthly magazine.

From 1920 to 1921, she studied labor issues at the New York School of Social Work, and then went on to Columbia University's Teacher College for the following two years. It was during this period that she was suggested to have "learned firsthand" on many women's labor conditions by working "ten-hour days in a cigar factory". Her career was focused upon the health and welfare of working class women and children.They "were a part of [a] cohort of women whose commitment to social activism was integrated with their lesbian orientation".

In the early 1920s Grace and Anna travelled through Europe together on behalf of the FOR, eventually traveling as far as India and the Far East. By 1927, Grace was employed by the Federated Press. At this time, she and Anna were also traveling through the Soviet Union. In contrast to the poverty and poor conditions she had witnessed in India, Grace was impressed by their collective attempts under communism to overcome the deprivations the country faced. However, their views clashed with the views of FOR, and they consequently left the organization for good on their 1927 return to the United States, instead joining the Communist Party.

Grace remains associated with LRA until 1967. During that time, she was once arrested for demonstrating against the executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in Boston.

Grace Hutchinsand Anna Rochester, from 1924, cohabitanted in New York's Greenwich Village. They then lived in a 24-apartment building in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan at 171 West 12th Street, which was the residence for a number of lesbians.

After having been ill for an extended period, she died at her home. Hutchins has been noted, by the 1930s, as one of a few women who still saw women as being oppressed, and later as one of the few who "worked to keep feminism alive in the United States during the 1930s to the 1950s." Her papers were collated in the Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon, along with Rochester's.


Anna Rochester was born in New York City. She was the daughter of Roswell Hart Rochester, an executive who worked as Treasurer of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and his wife, the former Louise Agatha Bauman, who had been a public school teacher before her marriage. Anna was the couple's only child. Unlike many of the participants in the American radical movement of her era, the Rochester family had long roots in the United States, with her father's paternal grandfather, Nathaniel Rochester, the namesake and founder of the city of Rochester, New York

Anna spent her developmental years in privilege in the city of Englewood, New Jersey, a comfortable suburb of New York City. The Rochester family lived in a large and well equipped home, employing attendants to help raise the child and servants to keep the household running. Anna traveled extensively as a young girl, studied music in Germany, and received a first-class private school education at the Dwight School for Girls. She exhibited intelligence and a penchant for scholarship at a comparatively young age, and briefly aspired to the advanced study of mathematics.

The Rochesters were a religious family and Anna was raised as a Protestant in the Episcopal Church, attending her first church service when she was just 5 and undergoing confirmation as a member of the church in 1894, at the age of 14. Anna was strongly imbued with the moral code of the church, which stressed simplicity, modesty, and service to others. Her religious fervor would continue to develop in her late teen years.

Anna was admitted to Bryn Mawr College, one of America's premier women's liberal arts universities, located ten miles west of Philadelphia. Her coursework proceeded as well as could be expected, but she found her collegiate career cut short by family matters, with her father dying of a heart attack in the middle of her freshman year and her mother falling ill of "nervous collapse" near the end of her sophomore session. This would mark the end of Annar's tenure at Bryn Mawr. Anna became her mother's caretaker, visiting the spas of Europe and vacationing at summer resorts in search of a "cure."

The summer of 1904 mother and daughter spent at a new resort, Philbrook Farm of Shelburne, New Hampshire. It was there that Rochester met Vida Dutton Scudder, a political activist motivated by the social gospel, and her lesbian partner, the writer Florence Converse. The connection proved both politically and socially illuminating. A male suitor was turned away in 1907, and a return to Philbrook Farm in 1908 invigorated Rochester's interest in sociology and the ongoing progressive campaign to ameliorate the ills of modern industrial society.

From 1912 until 1915, Rochester worked as a researcher and for the publicity department of the National Child Labor Committee, a private non-profit organization established in 1904 to help end child labor. Rochester continued in this same area in 1915 when she moved to the United States Children's Bureau, a government agency created in 1912, where she again worked on research and publications.[10] She would remain with the US Children's Bureau through 1921.

In 1922 Rochester assumed the editorship of The World Tomorrow , a Christian socialist monthly magazine which had been founded in 1918 by the pacifism Fellowship of Reconciliation and which was formerly edited by future Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas.

Anna Rochester died of pneumonia in New York City. She was 86 years old at the time of her death. She is buried at Brookside Cemetery, Englewood, with her parents. Anna Rochester's papers reside in the Special Collections department of Knight Library at the University of Oregon in Eugene.


Source : Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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