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Lorraine W. Benner Papers, 1956-1995.
2 boxes (0.83 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0629 (LD 7092.8 Benner)

Abstract:
Benner, Lorraine Wineow, 1906-1995; psychologist and college teacher. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1951-1972. Educator with the India Women's College Exchange. Papers contain correspondence, travel diaries, biographical information, and photographs primarily focusing on her letters from her former host family in Japan and twelve diaries pertaining to her teaching and traveling experiences. Collection contains material in English and Japanese.

Terms of Access and Use:

Unrestricted

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Lorraine Wineow Benner was born July 30, 1906 in Schenectedy, New York, and served on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College from 1951-1972 in the Department of Psychology and Education. Benner received her diploma from the Illman Kindergarten-Primary Training School in Philadelphia, and taught kindergarten in Longmeadow, Massachusetts from 1929-1943. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1941 from Boston University and her Master of Arts degree in Child Development in 1945 from Teachers College at Columbia University. During her leave of absence in 1940-1941 from her position as a kindergarten teacher in Longmeadow, Benner received the one fellowship awarded annually by the Association for Childhood Education International and worked as a staff member at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. She remained actively involved with the Association thereafter. Benner taught Education at Wheelock College and Smith College between 1943 and 1951. In 1951 she was hired to teach in the Psychology and Education Department and to direct the Gorse Child Study Center at Mount Holyoke College. Benner received a Fulbright grant in 1957 to be a visiting lecturer in Child Development and Family Relations at Ochanomizu Women's University in Tokyo, Japan. In 1964-1965, Benner taught at Women's Christian College in Madras, India, as one of five American professors selected to participate in the newly established US-India Women's College Exchange Program. On sabbatical from Mount Holyoke College in 1966 and 1967, she used a faculty grant to study children in the Himalayan Mountain Region. In addition to her responsibilities at Mount Holyoke, Benner was involved with many communities and organizations related to child development and early childhood education. She consulted with Head Start, an early education teacher training program, and lectured abroad and regionally. Following her retirement in 1972, she remained active in local and regional organizations relating to her academic field until her death on February 10, 1995 in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Lorraine Wineow Benner papers are made up of correspondence, travel diaries, biographical material, and photographs. Her correspondence consists of several letters by Benner and numerous letters from former host family and students at Ochanomizu Women's University, Tokyo, Japan (1958-1960). Twelve diaries reflect her experiences as a teacher and traveler in Europe (1956), Japan (1958), Scandinavia (1961), India (1964-1967), Germany (1971), and Greece (1973). Biographical material includes a resume, articles and clippings, sketches, and documents relating to her memorial service. The collection concludes with two undated photographs.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Lorraine W. Benner Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA

History of the Collection

Summary of Correspondence and Travel Diaries
Correspondence

Lorraine Benner, Professor of Psychology, had three overseas appointments: one in 1958 to Japan on a Fulbright at Ochanomizu Woman's College, another on an exchange program in 1964-65 to Madras Women's Christian College under the auspices of the US Department of State, and a third in the Summer of 1967 when she returned to India with a Mount Holyoke Faculty Grant to study children in the Himalayan Mountain Region.

The collection includes a few letters related to her Japan experience: letters of welcome written before she left South Hadley from students who report they are practicing their English, though at the "pace of a tortoise" in preparation for Lorraine's lectures in English; and letters of thanks and appreciation after she left Japan, including one from a student (September 9, 1958) which said we "forgot you were a foreign person." There is also one letter addressed to Dorothy Cogswell in Australia (member of the Art Department) from Lorraine which tells of her Western style apartment in the home of the Kato family, an apartment with all the facilities of her home on Jewett Lane except for the bath tub. She takes the evening meal usually with the Kato family. She wrote that language was a problem since few knew English; most of her lectures were accompanied by an interpreter. She was surprised to find that some English words in common usage had no Japanese equivalent.

Travel Diaries
Included in the collection are these diaries:
  • 1. American Express tour of Europe in the Summer of 1956.
  • 2. Teaching appointment in Japan, February - August 1958.
  • 3. Holiday in Scandinavia, Summer of 1961.
  • 4. Exchange appointment in Madras, June 30, 1964 - May 10, 1965.
  • 5. Visit (July 7 - August 12, 1967) to the Himalayan Region, studying children.
  • 6. Trip to Germany which included professional conference in Bonn, August 1971.
  • 7. Week in Rhodes, February 1973.
Japan Diary, 1958.

It was bitterly cold in Lorraine's apartment in Japan. On February 26, it was 42 degrees in her living room at 8 a.m. and she quickly learned to appreciate her Japanese bath, which was usually scheduled for early evening since guests had first use before the Kato family. She had regular teaching assignments with the Department of Child Study as well as special lectures to kindergarten teachers and others interested in small children. She wrote on April 17 that it had been a "real working day" teaching a class of over 100 in the morning with an interpreter, and in the afternoon from one to three teaching without one. She wrote in May that she found students learn by listening and were appalled by reading and writing assignments. Some of her lectures were at conferences with audiences of over 1000 and others were to smaller community groups at cultural centers. She traveled all over the country, north and south, visiting kindergartens as well, seeing the sights along the way. After one conference she wrote, "after four hours, the floor gets to be hard." There were theatre trips one Kabuki performance started at 11 and continued until 4:15 and many shopping trips, especially hunting Amari china.

India Diary, 1964-65.

In July, on arrival at Madras Women's Christian College, Lorraine was greeted with a garland of roses. She lived in a "hostel" along with 29 students. The heat was terrible and lasted for weeks. She took her meals with the students but the loan of a small refrigerator in November, along with a hot plate, helped to provide some change from student food, and there were frequent opportunities to eat out. A Chinese dinner at the Queens Hotel was a favorite. She participated fully as a faculty member in the life of the College, taking her turn at table waiting, leading chapel services, holding prayer meetings in her room. She had a group of advisees, did her own recording of grades in the office (there was no registrar). She set up arrangements with a neighboring kindergarten so that her students could observe on a regular ,basis. There were lectures in the community as well, one on "the Seriousness of Children's Play" given at the Y.

On Republic Day, January 26, 1965, Hindi was proclaimed the national language. No Hindi, however, was spoken in the south of India and there were student protests. The Government finally ordered the schools to close on February 10. Madras students were fasting and cutting classes. On February 11, when 23 students had been killed in the state, an emergency was declared. The College was closed until March 8; most of the students went home, many staff members left as well.

Despite Lorraine's busy schedule, there was still time for shopping, entertaining, visits to the 8-mile long beach (but no swimming - sharks and undertow), elaborate weddings (2000 guests), College functions like Alumnae Day, daily tea - frequently at the Coonamara Hotel - a conference in Bombay, and longer trips to Ceylon, a houseboat in Srinagar, Benares, Katmandu, an elephant ride at a wildlife sanctuary.

Himalayans Summer, 1967.

On her way west, Lorraine stopped off at Japan to visit friends, especially Mrs. Kato and those at Ochanowizu Women's University. In addition to her brief diary, there are comments labeled Notes on Observations at Chowrasta, Darjeeling. She found a great mingling of people: dietary restrictions tended to separate children: those who could not eat pork, those who could not eat beef, etc. The children looked healthy and reflected the friendliness of their parents, but there seemed a lack of activity, and little with which to play. Ayahs tended to be over-protective of their charges.

The Japan and Madras diaries give a general idea of what it was like in 1958 and 1964 for an American Professor of Child Study to step into a completely different environment on the other side of the globe, and to teach there as well.

By: CR Ludwig

October 1997


Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm
URL: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/
Language
English and Japanese
Sponsor
Encoding funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Contents List
1957-1965
7 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This series contains letters to Lorraine Benner (many written on rice paper) between 1958 and 1960 from host family, Hatsuko Kato, and former students Benner taught while on a Fulbright grant at Ochanomizu Women's University, Tokyo, Japan. Most letters from students are written in English, those from host are written in Japanese and translated by Mount Holyoke student Reiko Tochih Correspondents include Sumiko Uike Yamashita, Class of 1953, Reiko Tochihara, Hatsuka Kato, Etsuko Nakamura, Mineku Kiku, Masako Kagihora, and Makoto Tsumori. The letters are chiefly formal and include letters of welcome and letters documenting daily activities. This series also includes two letters by Benner to Elaine Weygand, Secretary to the President of Mount Holyoke College. These letters, written from India in 1964 and 1965, relate to Benner's work at the Women's Christian College in Madras.

1956-1973
12 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

This series contains twelve travel diaries of Lorraine Benner from 1956-1973. The format for all is similar: date, location, and weather are all indicated. Writings are generally concise and descriptive accounts of her day, including names of people and places seen or visited, meals, and activities. Four diaries recount vacation travels: to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth (1956), Scandinavia (1961), Germany (1971), and Greece (1973). Three diaries document her year in Japan (1958). Five diaries document her time in India (1964-1965, 1967).

circa 1954-1995
1 folder

This series consists of a resume; sketches, articles, and newspaper clippings documenting Benner's career as a professor of education, including her work in Japan; her obituary; and a program of the tribute from the memorial service held in her honor in 1995.

Undated
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Scope and content:

This series contains two photographs from the Public Relations Office at Mount Holyoke College. The first is a photograph. The second is of Benner in her role as College Marshall leading a procesion at a college ceremony.

Contents List
Correspondence,
1957-1965
7 folders

Correspondence,
November 1957-September 1958

Box 1: folder 1
Correspondence,
October-December 1958

Box 1: folder 2
Correspondence,
1959

Box 1: folder 3
Correspondence,
1960, 1964-1965

Box 1: folder 4
Travel Diaries,
1956-1973
12 folders

Travel Diary,
Europe, 1956

Box 1: folder 5
Travel Diary,
Japan, 1958

Box 1: folder 6
Travel Diary,
Japan, 1958

Box 1: folder 7
Travel Diary,
Japan, 1958

Box 1: folder 8
Travel Diary,
Scandinavia, 1961

Box 1: folder 9
Travel Diary,
India, June-December 1964

Box 2: folder 1
Travel Diary,
India, December 1964-May 1965

Box 2: folder 2
Travel Diary,
India, May-June 1965

Box 2: folder 3
Travel Diary,
India, 1967

Box 2: folder 4
Travel Diary,
India, 1967

Box 2: folder 5
Travel Diary,
Germany, 1971

Box 2: folder 6
Travel Diary,
Greece, 1973

Box 2: folder 7
Biographical Material,
circa 1954-1995
1 folder

Biographical Material,
circa 1954-1995

Box 2: folder 8
Photographs,
Undated
1 folder

Photographs,
Undated

Box 1: folder 9

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • College students - India.
  • College students - Japan.
  • College teachers - Massachusetts - South Hadley.
  • Early childhood education - Study and teaching.
  • Germany - Description and travel.
  • Greece - Description and travel.
  • Himalaya Mountains Region - Description and travel.
  • India - Description and travel.
  • Japan - Description and travel.
  • Ochanomizu Joshi Daigaku.
  • Scandinavia - Description and travel.
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Women college students - India.
  • Women college students - Japan.
  • Women college teachers - Massachusetts.
  • Women travelers.
  • Women's Christian College (Madras, India)

Genre terms
  • Diaries
  • Letters


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