Sara Louisa Oberholtzer was a woman with many beliefs, and she spent her life fighting for her ideals. At a time when women were expected to remain in the home, Sara traveled the world to promote causes she believed in, such as temperance and thrift. Many of her beliefs were framed in the Quaker lifestyle, such as her disdain for chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol.
Sara did not let her womanhood hold her back. Instead, she used it to her advantage by framing her arguments in a way that emphasized the safety of children. After all, what kind of 19th century wife, mother, and woman would she be if she did not leave her home to protect the children?
Sara’s life story is worth looking into if you are interested in 19th century women, activists, writers, poets, and Quakers. Also if you are interested in local history she is a great person to look into, as she was born in Chester County and lived both near and in Philadelphia for her entire life. Many of her poems make reference to places not too far from Ursinus College, such as Lionville, PA and the Mill at Anselma. Finally, anybody who is researching the Temperance Movement or school savings banks will find it useful to read about Sara’s life.
For additional information about Sara Oberholtzer, please consult the links on the left side of this page. Other useful sources include The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Ancestry, and West Chester University Libraries. (Of special note is a thesis held at WCU entitled Recovering Sara Louisa Oberholtzer: Chester County Poet and Activist by Shannon P. Steel)
Two articles of note are "School Savings Banks" by Sara Louisa Oberholtzer in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 1894, and "Sara Oberholtzer and the School Savings Bank Movement" by Andrew L. Yarrow in Pennsylvania Legacies, November 2012. Books of interest include Thrift: The History of an American Cultural Movement by Andrew L. Yarrow, Notable Women of Pennsylvania edited by Gertrude Bosler Biddle and Sarah Dickinson Lowrie, History of the Conestoga Turnpike Through Chester County, Pennsylvania by Stuart H. Quillman, 30,000 Acres: Vincent and Pikeland Townships, 1686 to 1850 by Estelle Cremers and Uwchlan Township: 300 Years Above the Valley by Susannah Wilson Brody.