This strong moral tone pervaded many of the activities of Ann Arbor's concerned citizens. In 1911 Agnes Inglis, a social worker with the YWCA, shocked the Ladies Union and the city with her report on moral conditions prevailing in the city, especially the rapid spread of "vile" diseases. In response to her indictment, twelve women's organizations, led by the YWCA, formed the Social Purity Club. The club called for suppression of "objectionable places and public characters," enforcement of laws prohibiting sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors, enforcement of curfew laws, organization of the schools as neighborhood social centers, and the introduction of sex hygiene classes in the schools.

Agnes Inglis was an unlikely radical. Born into a socially prominent, conservative Detroit family, she was more or less homebound, caretaker to her ill sister and her mother, until her late twenties, when their deaths left her an independent heiress, free to do as she wished. After some years as a student, and then a social worker, she was drawn toward the radicalism of figures like Emma Goldman, whom she met in 1913, and Jo Labadie, whom she met in 1916. She became active in the anarchist, labor and social movements of the time, holding Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) meetings at her house, and deploying her fortune in service of various radical causes. In the mid-1920s, her funds depleted, she turned her attention to Labadie’s collection, first as a volunteer (for a project that she thought would take six months) and later, when the university began to appreciate the value of the collection and its primary champion, as its first curator. For many years unpaid (she lived on an allowance from her brother James, who was to leave his estate, Inglis House, to the University of Michigan), she remained on the job, organizing the collection and expanding it some twentyfold by means of her own resources and contacts, until her death in 1952.