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Perell papers, 1935-1950 (Bulk: 1941-1949)
1 box (2.5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0765 (LD 7092.8 Bespaloff)

Perell, Emile; Engineer and educator. Papers consist of correspondence in both French and English. Primarily consisting of letters from his relatives, including his niece Rachel Bespaloff. Also included are documents pertaining to her work as a teacher and experiences during World War II.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Emile Perell (original surname, Perelmutter) trained as an engineer at a polytechnic school in Europe, worked doing odd jobs, and taught mathematics at the boarding house operated by his sister, Dora Perelmutter Pasmanik. Prior to 1942 he immigrated to the United States where he lived in Greenwich Village, New York, for thirty years. For two years he worked to establish himself as an engineer in preparation for his family's immigration to the United States. In 1942 his sister immigrated to New York City from Hyeres, France. Accompanying her were her daughter Rachel Bespaloff, son-in-law Nisson Bespaloff, and granddaughter Naomi Levinson.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Emile Perell Papers chiefly consist of correspondence written in French or English. A few letters are written by Perell, but most are letters written to him by relatives, friends, and associates between 1942 and 1949. Correspondents include his niece, Rachel Bespaloff, and his sister, Dora Perelmutter Pasmanik. Rachel Bespaloff was a French professor at Mount Holyoke College, a lecturer at the Entretiens de Pontigny, an author, and a philosopher. Also included is the correspondence of Bespaloff's daughter Naomi Levinson; Arthur Younger, a publisher in New York; Paul Frederic Saintonge, one of Bespaloff's collegues at Mount Holyoke, and friends or relatives of Bespaloff named, Fanny Ettinger, Hermine Zohrab and Fernande Peyrot Parsons. Most of the letters discuss personal and family matters, such as Pasmanik's ill health and Levinson's education at Mount Holyoke College and Radcliffe College. A few letters by Bespaloff and Ettinger discuss conditions in Europe during World War II. Correspondence with Younger and Saintonge concern the publication of Bespaloff's work and events after her suicide in 1949. The collection also includes published articles by Bespaloff dating from 1935, 1943, 1945, and 1947 and a posthumous publicaiton from 1950 on topics such as "Reflexions sur l'age classique" and "The Humanism of Peguy" as well as biographical information about her. Materials relating to Levinson, in addition to letters by and to her, consist of a short story that she wrote, an autobiographical essay, biographical information, and her Mount Holyoke senior photo, 1948.

This collection is organized into nine series:

  • Emile Perell Material (1942)
  • Rachel Bespaloff Material (1935-1950)
  • Naomi Levinson Material (1941-1949)
  • Dora Perelmutter Pasmanik Material (circa 1943, 1948)
  • Fanny Ettinger Material (1941, 1942)
  • Arthur Younger Material (1942)
  • Paul Frederic Saintonge Material (1949)
  • Hermine Zohrab and Fernande Parsons Material (1949)
  • Photograph (1948)

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


Preferred Citation

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

The Emile Perell Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.

History of the Collection

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:
French, and English.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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.

  • Bespaloff, Rachel.
  • Family.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Faculty.
  • Philosophers.
  • Publishers and publishing.
  • Women - Health and hygiene.
  • Women philosophers.
  • World War, 1939-1945 - Refugees.

  • Bespaloff, Rachel.
  • Ettinger, Fanny.
  • Levinson, Naomi.
  • Parsons, Fernande Peyrot.
  • Pasmanik, Dora Perelmutter.
  • Saintonge, Paul, 1904-1987.
  • Younger, Arthur.
  • Zohrab, Hermine.

Genre terms
  • Autobiographies
  • Letters

Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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