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Spinney, Mabel Foster



Mabel Foster Spinney was born in Burlington Vermont, the daughter of David Johnson Foster and Mabel Allen Foster. Her father was a lawyer, diplomat, and Congressman. She received an A.B. from Bryn Mawr in 1907. That same year, her campus was visited by Maud Wood Park, who founded the National College Equal Suffrage League.

Bryn Mawr’s alumnae guide lists Spinney as a Teacher in "Wykeham Rise," Washington, Conn., from 1907-08. An advertisment for the school notes that its course of study prepares students for the entrance exams of Bryn Mawr.

The same publication notes that by 1908, Spinney had taken a position as the Secretary to the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Commerce and Labor, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., which her father was the Chairman of. During those years, she also worked as a private tutor. In 1910, she became a teacher of French in the Central High School, Washington, D. C. where she remained for a year. She also served as President of the DC branch of the National College Equal Suffrage League.

Spinney moved to New York where she worked as a Settlement Worker and resident of Greenwich House, a cooperative social work settlement intended to improve the living conditions of immigrants, in Greenwich Village, NY from 1911-19. It is there that she is said to have met William Spinney, whom she would marry in 1913. Spinney was an employee of the publishing company Henry Holt and later the Guarantee Trust Company of New York.

Margaret Sanger’s 1917 book "The Case for Birth Control" includes Spinney on a list of “well known women who endorse birth control” (p. 40). Sanger also mentioned Spinney in her 1931 book, "My Fight for Birth Control." While Sanger was in jail in 1917, William and Mabel Spinney provided books for the instruction of female inmates (p. 194). Mabel Spinney also served on the board of directors of the New York Women’s Publishing Company and was a member of the conference committee of the First American Birth Control Conference in New York in 1921.

William Spinney died in 1924. Prior to 1926, Mabel Spinney taught in the Litchfield High School and was acting president of the Litchfield Players. In 1926, she and Dorothy Bull formed Spring Hill School acting as co-principals. Following Dorothy Bull's death in 1934, the board attempted to reorganize but was unable to make Spring Hill School profitable. Mabel Spinney moved to Vermont in 1940 where she was associated with the Putney School. She died August 25, 1951.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Spring Hill School collection


Identifier: 1951-30-0
Scope and Contents The Spring Hill School collection (1951-30-0, .83 linear feet) documents a private school modelled on a philosophy of progressive education. Founded by Dorothy Bull and Mabel Foster Spinney in Litchfield, Conn., the school operated from 1926 to 1939. The collection includes correspondence, financial records, minutes, institutional records, brochures, and published editions of student work. The collection also contains tributes to co-founders Bull from 1934 and Spinney from 1951 and a...
Dates: translation missing: en.enumerations.date_label.created: 1926-1940; Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1951