Five College Archives and Manuscript
Mount Holyoke College seal
Taylor papers, 1908-1975.
2 boxes (10 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0797 (LD 7096.6 1913 Howland)

Taylor, Barbara Howland Barber, 1889-1975; student, teacher, scholar, housewife. Mount Holyoke College Graduate, 1913. Papers contain research material, writings, memorabilia, information on plants and gardening, biographical information, and photographs; primarily relating to her research about Mexican culture and literature and the Spanish language.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Barbara Southworth Howland was born on November 14, 1889 in Guadalajara, Mexico to missionary parents John Howland and Sarah Southworth Howland. She attended Northfield Seminary in Northfield, Massachusetts and graduated in 1908. After spending a year in Mexico, Howland returned to Massachusetts and attended Mount Holyoke College from 1909-1913 and received a B.A. in English literature. She taught at the Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts until 1916, and then went to Columbia University Teachers' College in New York. She spent several years in Danielson, Connecticut and married the Reverend Harold H. Barber there in 1918. They moved to Mazatlán, Mexico, where he was a missionary; he died one day before the birth of their son John Howland Barber in 1919. In 1922 she married Walter Clyde Taylor, who was the General Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association in Mexico City. In 1936 she received her Ph.D. and became the first United States woman to receive a doctorate from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. While in Mexico she tutored students in a variety of subjects and continued to read and research Spanish and Nahuatl. Throughout her adult life she had a strong interest in botany and gardening. She was also quite interested in Mexican customs and published a book in 1969 entitled, "Mexico: Her Daily and Festive Breads." After the death of her husband in 1957, she moved to Claremont, California. She died there on January 27, 1975 at the age of eighty-five.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Barbara Howland Taylor Papers consist of research material, writings, memorabilia, information on plants and gardening, biographical information, and photographs. The material primarily relates to her research about Mexican culture and literature and the Spanish language. The research material includes short essays, translations, lecture notes, and pamphlets and articles in Spanish and English that related to her doctoral dissertation. This dissertation, entitled "La Tradición y la Leyenda en la Literatura Mexicana" (1936), and her book, "Mexico: Her Daily and Festive Breads" (1969) comprise a significant part of Taylor's papers. Also included with Taylor's writings are two speeches she gave at her fortieth (1953) and fiftieth reunions (1963) at Mount Holyoke College. Taylor kept photograph albums reflecting her time in Massachusetts at Mount Holyoke College, Northfield Seminary, and Bradford Academy. Primarily comprised of snapshots, the albums chiefly reflect student life at Mount Holyoke College from 1909-1913. Of note are photographs of a student in blackface--probably for a minstrel show, Senior Mountain Day, the Young Women's Christian Association summer camp at Silver Bay, N.Y., and the interiors of several student rooms. This includes a picture of Taylor in her Porter Hall senior year room. A Northfield Seminary 1908 "Commencement Number" and two Bradford Academy yearbooks (1914 and 1915) are included in the collection. Taylor also had a strong interest in gardening and botany during her adult years, and she kept many notes on the history of gardening and on various herbs and plants. Included with Taylor's papers are a number of long letters written to family and friends for Christmas (1927-1946) with updates on the activities of family members. A number of newspaper clippings relate to Taylor's involvement in the community in Mexico City and to her son, John Howland Barber's work as an Embassy secretary in Nicaragua comprise Taylor's biographical information. A Mount Holyoke College senior year photograph of Taylor and a large photograph of members of the Class of 1913 are also included in the collection.

This collection is organized into six series:

  • Research Material
  • Writings
  • Memorabilia
  • Information on Plants and Gardening
  • Biographical Information
  • Photographs

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


Preferred Citation

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

Barbara Howland Barber Taylor 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:
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.

  • Barber, John Howland, 1919-
  • Taylor, Barbara Howland.
  • Bradford Academy - History - Sources.
  • College students - Massachusetts.
  • Gardening.
  • Mexican literature.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Traditions.
  • Mount Holyoke College. - Class of 1913 - Photographs.
  • Mountain Day - 1913.
  • Mountain Day - Massachusetts - South Hadley.
  • Nahuatl literature.
  • Northfield Seminary - History - Sources.
  • Porter Hall (South Hadley, Mass.) - Photographs.
  • Scholars - Mexico.
  • Spanish language - Study and teaching (Higher) - Mexico.
  • Student activities - Massachusetts - South Hadley.
  • Women college students - Massachusetts.
  • Women scholars - Mexico.
  • Young Women's Christian Association (Mount Holyoke College).

Genre terms
  • Letters.
  • Photograph albums.
  • Photographs.

Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
Home | Help | About | Search