J. Isabelle Sims

c. 1873-1952

Prolific Newark social worker and lifelong Newarker.

Directed Fresh Air Fund Camps for 32 years and would travel to be at the Summit camp even when in a wheelchair in later life. Executive of 1923 Community Chest Campaign and director of the Newark Welfare Federation (1925) for 11 years.

Replaced Beatrice Winser on the Board of Education and became the first woman president. She served on the Board of Ed. from 1917-1930. She did have several controversies in her time of the Board. In 1927, Superintendent Corson blamed her partially for his resignation. In 1928, Black citizens of Newark including H. Blanche Harris claimed she had said separate schools were a necessity and asked that she be removed from the Board.

Born in Newark and went to Wellesley College in 1893. Lived all her life at 42 Spruce St.

She was also the first woman to serve as foreman of a Federal Grand Jury (possibly nationwide) in 1937.

She was a board member of the Newark Female Charitable Society, and had previously been Corresponding Secretary of that organization and the Crazy Jane Society. She was a member of the Committee of Fifty during Newark’s 1916 anniversary celebration and the Mayor’s Food Committee during WWI. She was chairman of the social services advisory group for the Newark Housing Authority.

She lived with a friend Miss Marguerite Marquart, former director of art for NPS from 1935. She was a member of the Contemporary Club and College Women’s Club.


“Newark Woman First to Head Federal Grand Jury” Record April 6, 1937

1893 Yearbook: https://repository.wellesley.edu/object/wellesley606?search=sims

Photo from Evening Sun Apr 13, 1937.

“60 Colored Citizens Sign Letter” Pitssburgh Courier Mar 17 1928.

Sims, J. Isabelle, Newark News Morgue, Newark Public Library