Hanau, Stella, 1890-1972

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Dance card, undated

Born Stella Bloch, New York City, 1890; B.A. English, Barnard, 1911; married Leo Hanau 1923 (divorced 1940s); one son. Press agent, publicity manager for several "experimental" theatres, New York City, circa 1920s, including the Greenwich Village Theatre and Neighborhood Playhouse, and Provincetown Playhouse (Mass.); co-authored, with Helen Deutsch, The Provincetown: A Story of the Theatre (1931); managed Paul Robeson's first concert; published playbills, press releases, and similar material. Involved in suffrage and birth control movements; editor, Birth Control Review (1929-33); educational director, National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, D.C. (1935-38); editor and director of publications, American Birth Control League, D.C. (1933-35). Staff editor, Federal Writer's Project, Works Progress Administration (1938-42); Information Specialist, War Production Board, 1942-45, Chief Copy Editor, Department of Commerce, 1945-49. Self- employed as editor, New York City (1949-72); worked with friend and associate, Hella Bernays (Sigmund Freud's niece) on psychiatry books.

From the guide to the Stella Hanau Papers MS 73., 1904-1971, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Stella Bloch was born July 24, 1890, in Manhattan, New York. Her parents moved from Alabama to New York to go into the silk business. After public school Stella Bloch went to Barnard College, class of 1911, where she majored in English literature. She also pursued her lifelong interest in plays and the theater. Shortly before college, Stella Bloch met Hella Bernays, niece of Sigmund Freud, who became and remained her best friend throughout life. Hella was the class of 1913 at Barnard.

Leo and Stella Hanau married in 1914. Leo Hanau was born in Germany and immigrated to the US in 1906. Their son Richard Hanau was born just as the United States entered World War I. After the war, the Bloch family set up a joint household with Hella Bernays’s family on East 124th Street. During the 1920s, Stella Bloch was active in the experimental theaters in lower Manhattan: The Neighborhood Playhouse on the East Grant Street, the Provincetown Playhouse off Washington Square, and the Playwrights Theater. As publicity agent for these theaters, Stella Hanau was in charge of program distribution, newspaper publicity, and dealing with theater critics. Her theater connections plus her left wing politics attracted Stella Hanau to poets, writers, and political activists. Leo and Stella Hanau separated in 1923 and were divorced in the early 1940s.

Stella Hanau and Hella Bernays were active in the women’s suffrage movement. Stella was also active in the American Birth Control League, the Works Progress Administration, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The two women also shared a common interest in psychiatry and fostering community mental health programs. By 1929 Stella Hanau ended her theater interests and concentrated fully on editing the Birth Control Review . In 1935 she went to Washington D.C. to undertake publicity for Margaret Sanger, a job she continued until 1949. Stella Hanau also edited organizational newsletters such as The National Birth Control News and the Birth Control Review .

In the1940s, Stella Hanau served as editor for the Works Progress Administration Writers Program and wrote publicity for the Department of Commerce and the War Production Board. In 1948, the Loyalty Board of the Department of Commerce investigated Stella Hanau. The board scrutinized her friends and acquaintances, affiliations with left wing politics, and her Jewish heritage. Stella Hanau was cleared of all charges in 1949. During the post-war years, Stella Hanau was self-employed doing editorial and rewrite work for professionals in the area of psychiatry and for the American Psychiatric Association.

From the guide to the Stella Hanau papers, 1904-1998, (University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Porritt, Annie G. (Annie Gertrude), 1861-1932. Papers, 1906-1976. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Annie Gertrude Webb Porritt Papers 123., 1898-1976 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Stella Hanau papers, 1904-1998 Univerisity of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
creatorOf Hanau, Stella, 1890-1972. Papers, 1904-1971. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Records MS 359., 1859-2002, 1916-1960 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts records, 1859-2002 (ongoing) (bulk 1916-1960). Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Stella Hanau Papers MS 73., 1904-1971 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Wile, Ira S. (Ira Solomon), 1877-1943. Papers, 1915-1942. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Ira S. Wile Papers MS 173., circa 1915-1943 Sophia Smith Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Birth Control League corporateBody
associatedWith American Psychiatry Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Bernays, Hella person
associatedWith Bernays, Hella. person
associatedWith Bernays, Hella Freud, 1893-1994 person
associatedWith Bloch family. family
associatedWith Colby, Merle, 1902-1969 person
associatedWith Federal Writers' Project corporateBody
associatedWith Hanau, Leo. person
associatedWith Hanau, Richard. person
associatedWith Lesher, Robert A. person
associatedWith Macgowan, Kenneth, 1888-1963 person
associatedWith Planned Parenthood Federation of America corporateBody
associatedWith Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts corporateBody
associatedWith Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. person
correspondedWith Porritt, Annie G. (Annie Gertrude), 1861-1932. person
correspondedWith Porritt, Annie Gertrude Webb person
associatedWith Provincetown Players corporateBody
associatedWith Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966 person
associatedWith United States. Dept. of Commerce. corporateBody
correspondedWith Wile, Ira S. (Ira Solomon), 1877-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
United States
Birth control
Birth control
Birth control
Birth Control Review
Experimental theater
Experimental theater
Experimental theater
Federal Writers Project
Mental health
Women editors
Women editors
Women editors


Birth 1890

Death 1972

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