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Marion E. Kenworthy Papers

Identifier: P-511

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains correspondence, newsletters, minutes of meetings, pamphlets, newspaper articles, editorials, congressional testimony, and various publications of the NSCGRC and its successor, the Non-Sectarian Foundation for Refugee Children (NSFRC).

The documents focus on the effort to pass the Wagner-Rogers bill of 1939, which would have allowed 20,000 German refugee children of all faiths to enter the United States over a two-year period. Of special interest are reports by various female social workers that traveled to Germany before World War II who documented the status of Jewish and "non-Aryan" children in that country. The materials provide an interesting indication of how much information Americans had about the situation in Germany prior to the outset of the war. Also valuable are the comments on the types of children refugee organizations thought would be the best to bring to the United States. Faced with restrictions on the number of children who could be admitted to the U.S., refugee organizations took pains to select those children whom they considered to be well adjusted and who would easily and quickly assimilate into American life. Among the correspondents in the collection are Stephen S. Wise, Senator Robert F. Wagner, Justine Wise Polier, Alf Landon, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Justine Wise Polier also appears in many of the minutes from various meetings.


  • undated, 1938-1952


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Marion Edwena Kenworthy (1891-1980) was a psychiatrist who specialized in the field of children’s mental health. Kenworthy served as president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, as well as the Academy of Child Psychiatry, and established the psychiatric clinic of the New York City Family Court with Justine Wise Polier and Agnes Inglis. Kenworthy and Sarah H, Swift brought the application of psychiatry into the curriculum of the New York School of Social Work where Kenworthy was a professor from 1921-1956. During WWII Kenworthy served as a doctor in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and investigated psychiatric stress. Her legacy continues in the activities of the Marion E. Kenworthy-Sarah H. Swift Foundation in the care of children’s mental and emotional well-being. Notable for the collection here is that on December 18, 1938 she hosted in her home a meeting of individuals, horrified by the news of Kristallnacht, looking for ways to rescue children. Those who met established the Non-Sectarian Committee on German Refugee Children (NSCGRC) in 1938 with the goal of lobbying congress for the admission of refugee children to the United States.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



Marion E Kenworthy (1891-1980) was one of the founders of the Non-Sectarian Committee for German Refugee Children. Starting in 1938, they organized a lobbying effort to have the U.S. Congress allow for the migration of refugee children from Europe to the United States. This collection documents, through correspondence, depositions, meeting minutes, and more, the group’s activities. Of particular importance is the congressional testimony relating to the 1939 Wagner-Rogers bill.


The papers are arranged alphabetically by folder title describing the contents and relationship between the NSCGRC and the correspondent.

Acquisition Information

The Papers of Marion E. Kenworthy were donated by the Kenworthy-Swift Foundation in 1983.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized in its entirety with the exception of a small number of duplicates, clippings, and a list of patient names.

Related Material

The Marion E. Kenworthy Papers, 1915-1980 MS#8705 can be found at Columbia University Libraries Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Guide to the Marion E. Kenworthy Papers, circa 1938-1952
Processed by Felicia Herman. Additional processing by Michael Montalbano and digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • September 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States