Sarah E. Ellis Papers, 1945-1979

Sarah E. Ellis Papers, 1945-1979

Finding Aid

Collection No. 19 (1 Linear foot)
D.C. Community Archives


Sarah E. Ellis became a citizen activist after urban renewal forced her in 1959 to relocate the restaurant started by her late husband, Cy Ellis, from Southwest Washington, D.C. She was forced to move from a second location, at E Street NW, when Metro began construction there in the 1960s.

Her10-year fight in the courts and Congress helped establish the "priority law," which allows long-established businesses to use the "grandfather" clause to avoid relocation in urban renewal areas. Mrs. Ellis moved her restaurant back to the redeveloped Southwest waterfront in 1970.

Born on a Potomac River farm in St. Mary's County, Md., she married and moved to Washington, D.C. with her husband sometime after World War I to start his oyster bar restaurant.

Scope and Content

The papers contain correspondence, clippings, meeting minutes, reports, and pamphlets of local issues and citizens organizations in which Mrs. Ellis was involved. These included the Chillum Heights Citizens Association, the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations, Junior Village, the Committee for the Rights of the D.C. Business Community, urban renewal, home rule, and mass transit. Of significance, is a 1972 report titled "Report of the Special Citizens Advisory Committee on Urban Renewal in D.C."

Box Inventory

Box 1

  • Minutes Chillum Heights Citizens Association and correspondence, 1945-1950
  • Chillum Heights Citizens Association Correspondence
    • 1952-1954
    • 1955
    • 1956
    • 1957-58
    • 1959 (2 folders)
    • 1960
    • 1973
  • Federation of Citizens Associations
  • Committee for the Rights of the Washington D.C. Business Community
  • Bill Announcements and other Congressional Materials
  • Correspondence, Testimony and other materials, 1962-1966
  • Correspondence and Other materials, 1969-1972
  • Miscellaneous letters and testimony by Mrs. Ellis, n.d.
  • Historic Landmarks and districts
  • Education
  • Urban renewal
  • Urban renewal and home rule
  • Potomac River
  • Metro and mass transit
  • Miscellaneous inspirational notes
  • Miscellaneous materials

Box 2    

  • Correspondence and miscellaneous papers, 1974-1979
  • Downtown redevelopment and urban renewal
  • History and bicentennial activities
  • Reports, pamphlets and brochures
  • Southwest Spectator Article re Mrs. Ellis, 4/18/71
  • Capitol Hill Spectator, SW Waterfront Festival, May 12, 1965
  • Test of Roosevelt Speech given to Mrs. Ellis by Fund, 12/2/36
  • Clippings, 1960-1970
  • Clippings, nd
  • Rolled Petition in support of Municipal Fish Market

Box 3

  • Junior Village  (5 folders), 1971-72
  • Junior Village, clippings, 1969-1973

December 31, 1997

DC Public Library, Special Collections
DC Community Archives

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