Julia Lynch Olin

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Julia Lynch Olin
Portrait of Mrs Phil Benkard by Emil Fuchs.jpg
Portrait of Mrs Phil Benkard, by Emil Fuchs
BornOctober 21, 1882
DiedMarch 11, 1961(1961-03-11) (aged 78)
New York City, New York
J. Philip Benkard
(m. 1902; div. 1920)

(m. 1921; died 1942)
Parent(s)Stephen Henry Olin
Alice Wadsworth Barlow
RelativesStephen Olin (grandfather)

Julia Lynch Olin (October 21, 1882 – March 11, 1961) was an American author and Baháʼí who co-founded the New History Society in New York City, and was later expelled from the religion by Shoghi Effendi around 1939. Through marriage, she was a member of the Astor and Dudley–Winthrop families.[1]

Early life[edit]

Julia Olin was born on October 21, 1882 in Glen Cove, New York. She was the daughter of Stephen Henry Olin (1847–1925), the acting President of Wesleyan University from 1922 to 1923,[2] and Alice Wadsworth Barlow (1853–1882).[3] Her sister was Alice Townsend Olin (1881–1963), who married Tracy Dows (1871–1937) in 1903.[4][5] After her mother's death in 1882 at the age of 29,[6] her father remarried to Emeline Harriman (1860–1938), the former wife of William Earl Dodge III, in 1903.[7] Emeline was the daughter of Oliver Harriman and the sister of Anne Harriman Vanderbilt, Oliver Harriman, Jr., J. Borden Harriman, and Herbert M. Harriman.[7]

Her maternal grandparents were Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow (1826–1889)[8] and Alice Cornell Townsend (1833–1889).[9] Her paternal grandparents were Julia Matilda Lynch Olin (1814–1879) and Rev. Dr. Stephen Olin (1797–1851),[3] 2nd President of Wesleyan University and the son of Henry Olin (1768–1837), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont.[10][11]

Baháʼí Faith[edit]

Olin was first introduced to the teachings of the Baháʼí Faith about 1925, as she states in her autobiography. Becoming intimately associated with Mirza Ahmad Sohrab they together with her second husband, Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler, started the New History Society.[12] This Society, based in the home that Olin and Lewis owned in New York, (later called Caravan House), published several books, into the late 1950s.[1] It apparently became defunct after Sohrab and/or Olin had died.[citation needed]

In 1929, he and Olin formed an educational organization called Caravan of East and West with a quarterly magazine called The Caravan. This magazine is where Sohrab's partial autobiography first appeared, also in 1929.[1]

Also that year, an article appeared in which the engagement of her daughter Elsie Benkard to Charles H. Clarke was announced.[13] The marriage announcement appeared on February 27, 1930, stating that ".....they were married with a Bahai ceremony. It was the first time that such a ceremony..... has been used at a society wedding in New York. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab officiated."[14][15]

The New History Society was addressed by several luminaries, including Albert Einstein in 1930.[16] Another speaker was Margaret Sanger in January 1932.[17] In 1934, she described Baha'i membership as: "To be a Baha'i simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood".[18] In 1936, Julia translated the French version of Seven Valleys into English.[19]


She was expelled from the Baháʼí community in 1939 along with Lewis and Sohrab after they refused to allow the Local Spiritual Assembly of New York oversight over the operations of the New History Society. They went on to support the efforts of Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí, and at one point petitioned the President of Israel for Muhammad ʻAlí's property rights when he tried to assert his control over the Shrine of Baháʼu'lláh.[20]

As part of its mission, the New History Society, for many years sponsored an essay-contest. At least one of the winners of this, Jaja Wachuku, became famous in his own right, for his essay "How Can the People of the World Achieve Universal Disarmament?" written while at the New Africa University College.[21]

Personal life[edit]

On December 11, 1902, Olin married John Philip Benkard (1872–1929)[22][23] of New York City, a financier[24] and the son of James Benkard.[13] Before their divorce in December 1920, they had two daughters:[1]

On May 23, 1921, she married Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler (1869–1942),[28] the ex-Lieutenant Governor of New York and a former Democratic candidate for Governor, in Paris.[29] He was the fifth son of John Winthrop Chanler and Margaret Astor Ward and the great-grandson of the first John Jacob Astor.[29]

She is said to have donated her fortune for the Baha'i faith.[1] Julia died on March 11, 1961, at the age of 78.[30] In her obituary she was described as "spiritual leader of the Reform Baha'i movement..."[1]


  • Living Pictures. In the Great Drama of the 19th Century. (with Ahmad Sohrab) New York: The New History Society, 1933. Reprinted. H-Bahai: Lansing, Michigan, 2004. (this link includes her picture)
  • Seven Valleys, by Baháʼu'lláh (trans. Julie Chanler), 1936[19]
  • Brand, & Sohrab [libretto Max Brand, and Julie Chandler; Music Max Brand]. The Gate: Scenic Oratorio for Soli, Chorus, and Orchestra in Two Parts (19 Scenes). 61. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1944.
  • His Messengers Went Forth, by Julie Chanler, Illustrated by Olin Dows. Published by Coward-McCann, Inc. New York. Copyright 1948.[1][31]
  • Ioas, Chanler, & Sohrab. Three Letters. 11 leaves. New York: Caravan of East and West, 1954.
  • From Gaslight to Dawn, New History Foundation, NY 1956[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Mrs. Lewis S. Chanler, 78, Dies; Headed Reform Bahai Movement; Widow of Former Lieutenant Governor Formed Society in '29 -- Wrote Several Books". The New York Times. 12 March 1961. p. 86. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  2. ^ "COL. OLIN HEADS COLLEGE.; Will Act as President of Wesleyan University for a Year". The New York Times. 4 August 1922. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b "S. H. OLIN DIES AT 78; 50 Years A Lawyer; Specialized on Copyright Law and Represented Foremost Publishing Houses. ACTING HEAD OF WESLEYAN For 30 Years He Was Trustee of the New York Public Library -- A Founder of Players Club". The New York Times. 7 August 1925. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  4. ^ "MARRIED: DOWS--OLIN". The New York Times. 12 November 1903. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  5. ^ "TRACY DOWS; Succumbs Suddenly in London at Age of 64--Harvard Graduate". The New York Times. 4 July 1937. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  6. ^ "DIED. OLIN". The New York Times. 10 November 1882. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (14 August 1938). "MRS. EMELINE H. OLIN IS DEAD AT NEWPORT; Daughter of Oliver Harriman Is Stricken After Brief Illness". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Obituary -- OLIN". The New York Times. 9 November 1882. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  9. ^ Cutter, William Richard; Clement, E. H. (Edward Henry); Hart, Samuel; Talcott, Mary Kingsbury; Bostwick, Frederick; Stearns, Ezra S. (1911). Genealogical and family history of the state of Connecticut; a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation. New York, Lewis historical publishing company. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  10. ^ "OLIN, Henry - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Stephen Olin, Office of the President". www.wesleyan.edu. Wesleyan University. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  12. ^ The Basis of the Baháʼí Community: A Statement Concerning the New History Society. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the United States. 1941. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "MISS ELSIE BENKARD ENGAGED TO MARRY; Mrs. L. Stuyvesant Chanler's Daughter to Wed Charles H. Clarke This Winter. LILLIAS WEBSTER ENGAGED Will Become the Bride of Calvin Durand Trowbridge of Lake Forest, Ill". The New York Times. 11 December 1929. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  14. ^ a b "MISS BENKARD WED BY BAHAI CEREMONY; Her Marriage to Charles H. Clarke the First by Such Rites in New York Society. MIRZA SOHRAB OFFICIATES Bride Is Given in Marriage by Her Stepfather, Lewis S. Chanler, In Mother's Home. Daughter of Late J. Philip Benkaru". The New York Times. 27 February 1930. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  15. ^ Chanler, Julie (25 February 1934). "BAHA'I MARRIAGE CEREMONY". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  16. ^ "EINSTEIN ADVOCATES RESISTANCE TO WAR; If Only 2% of Eligibles Refused to Join Army, Jails Would Not Hold Them, He Says. ASKS FUND TO BACK PLAN Tells Pacifists Action, Not Talk Is Needed for World Peace --He Sails Today. EINSTEIN ADVOCATES RESISTANCE TO WAR". The New York Times. 15 December 1930. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  17. ^ Times, Special To The New York (18 January 1932). "SMOOT WOULD PLUG CONGRESS 'RAT-HOLE'; Senator Points to $40-a-Page Cost of Printing Appendix to Congressional Record. EVERYTHING, ANYTHING IN IT Undelivered Speeches, Poetry, Arti- cles Pour Onto It -- Total Nearly $3,500 for Five Quiet Days". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  18. ^ Chanler, Julie (18 March 1934). "Baha'i Membership". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b "TB-SV0 | Hurqalya Publications: Center for Shaykhī and Bābī-Bahā'ī Studies". hurqalya.ucmerced.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  20. ^ Aghdasi, Farzin (Spring 1994). "The Vision of Shoghi Effendi". bci.org. Association for Baha'i Studies University of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 15 May 2006. Retrieved 25 August 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ Chanler, Julie (1956). From Gaslight to Dawn. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  22. ^ "J. Philip Benkard, Broker, Stricken in Parade; Ex-Lieutenant Colonel Dies in Ambulance". The New York Times. 7 April 1929. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  23. ^ "MANY NOTABLES MOURN J.P. BENKARD; Members of Business, Social and Army Circles at Funeral of Banker". The New York Times. 10 April 1929. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  24. ^ "WEDDINGS OF A DAY.; Benkard--Olin". The New York Times. 12 December 1902. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Phyllis Benkard Dies in Paris". The New York Times. 17 May 1928. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  26. ^ "FORMER MISS BENKARD WED TWICE IN DAY; Civil Ceremony at Marriage Bureau Preceded Bahai Wedding to Charles H. Clarke". The New York Times. 28 February 1930. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Phyllis Clarke, '56 Debutante, Married onL. I.; Bride in Oyster Bay of George Ohstrom Jr., Investment Aide". The New York Times. October 24, 1958. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  28. ^ "L.S. CHANLER DIES; STATE EX-OFFICIAL; Lieutenant Governor, 1906-08, Defeated in Gubernatorial Race by Hughes in 1908 WAS A CRIMINAL LAWYER Defended Clients Who Could Not Pay -- Toured Ireland for Parnellites in '90's". The New York Times. 2 March 1942. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  29. ^ a b "LEWIS S. CHANLER WEDS MRS. BENKARD; Ex-Lieut. Governor of New York Marries Divorced Wife of J. Philip Benkard in Paris. GUARDED WITH SECRECY Mr. Chanler Was Divorced in Paris From His First Wife, Who Was Alice Chamberlain". The New York Times. 25 May 1921. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  30. ^ "DEATHS: CHANLER". The New York Times. 12 March 1961. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Formats and Editions of His messengers went forth [WorldCat.org]". www.worldcat.org. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  32. ^ Chanler, Julie Olin (1956). From Gaslight to Dawn: An Autobiography. New History Foundation.

Further reading[edit]

  • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 4: September, 1955-August, 1958. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1960. (BioIn 4)
  • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 5: September, 1958-August, 1961. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1962. (BioIn 5)

External links[edit]