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Newly Processed Collections (2004)

The SSC's processing staff continued to be remarkably productive this year. From old favorites in need of refurbishing, to new and chaotic acquisitions, a good number of valuable collections are now more accessible to researchers.

The African-American Institute's Women's Africa Committee, founded in 1958, was an effort to help the wives of diplomats from the newly independent African nations adjust to everyday life in New York. By targeting the needs of women community leaders, the Committee distinguished itself from its parent organization, which provided opportunities in higher education for (mostly male) Africans. This small collection illuminates American efforts toward cultural exchange with the emerging independent African nations in a period between battles for independence in Africa and the widespread adoption of pan-African identity among black Americans.

Women's Africa Committee Board Chair Zelia Ruebhausen (left) and Margaret Kenyatta, 1964. Photo by Gilbert Pictures Enterprise.
Jane White as Volumina and Bradley Whitford as her son Caius Marcius Coriolanus in Coriolanus, at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger, 1991.

Jane White's (Smith '44) acting career began in the 1940s when she captured the lead role in the 1945 Broadway adaptation of Lillian Smith's controversial novel, Strange Fruit. Since, she has had prominent roles on and off-Broadway, on television (including a memorable turn as a villain on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow), and in self-designed cabarets showcasing her range of dramatic, comedic, and vocal talents. Scripts, programs, and photographs document White's theatrical career, and this material, along with eloquent self-reflections in interviews and autobiographical performances, provides a boon to researchers interested in twentieth century theatre. Daughter of the late NAACP national secretary, Walter White, her papers additionally give perspective on a family that contributed significantly to the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement.

The Jane Lakes Harman (Smith '66) Papers are scheduled to open to research early in 2005. Representing California's 36th District, Congresswoman Harman was the first Smith College graduate to serve in Congress. (She has since been joined by Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin, Smith '84.) Currently she is the Ranking Minority Member on the House Intelligence Committee. Throughout her legislative career she has been a proponent of women's rights, protection of the environment, job security, and national defense. Harman's papers document her first three terms in office (103rd-105th Congresses) and provide glimpses of her life as a Smith student, her previous government work with Senator John Tunney and in the Carter administration, and her career as a lawyer.

Labor organizer and Communist Party official Anne Burlak Timpson (1911-2002) was arrested numerous times for organizing workers in the mills of Rhode Island and Massachusetts during the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 21 she was elected the National Secretary of the National Textile Workers' Union, the first American woman to hold such a high post in a labor union. Known as "The Red Flame," she was indicted under the Smith and McCarran Acts in the 1950s and 1960s. Through scrapbooks, oral histories, organization and subject files, and correspondence, the papers document her political and social activism, involvement with the Communist Party of the United States, U.S.-Soviet relations, the peace and justice movements, as well as her close ties with her family.

The Records of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau date from 1873 to 1973 and represent a rich source of information on the early birth control movement in the U.S. and abroad. Of particular interest are 19th and 20th century pamphlets on birth control, religious views, sex education, contraceptive methods (dating from 1877), and early commercial catalogs.

The papers of Patricia Beck (1924-1978), a writer, poet, and artist, provide a rare view of a woman's struggle with depression, diabetes, and personal tragedy. The collection includes 40 years of Beck's diaries; her oeuvre of largely unpublished poetry, short stories, and novels; and correspondence with friends and family that provide further insight into her life.

--Amy Hague

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 © 2005 Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 Page last updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013