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Mary B. Nelson Papers, 1911-1994. (Bulk: (1948-1989)
6 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0625 (LD 7096.6 1951 Browning)

Nelson, Mary Julia Browning, 1928-1994; student, nursing home assistant and elementary school teacher. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1951. Papers contain correspondence; high school, Mount Holyoke and graduate school course material; clippings, memorabilia, and a scrapbook documenting primarily her academic and social life at Mount Holyoke, her career and her divorce

Terms of Access and Use:

Materials 1964 on are restricted.

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Mary Julia Browning was born on September 19, 1928 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her parents were Robert M. Browning and Louise Gray Browning. She attended Holten Arms School in Wasington, D.C. then went to Mount Holyoke College from 1947- 1951, graduating with a degree in art history. She moved to Iowa City, Iowa where she worked as a radio station announcer in 1951-1952. She then moved to Boston, Massachusetts and worked in administrative positions in the Harvard University Employment Office 0and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. She also took a class at Boston University. She moved to Washington, D.C. and worked at the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church as membership secretary. She married Edward Robert Nelson (Bob) 1958; they had two children and divorced in 1966. Between 1963-1976 she held elementary teaching jobs in independent schools in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. From 1979-1981 she worked as an employment counselor and worked with the elderly in Beverly, Massachusetts. She died in Beverly on September 22, 1994 at the age of sixty-six.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mary J. Browning Nelson Papers contain correspondence, course materials from her years in high school and at Mount Holyoke College and Boston University, newspaper clippings, memorabilia, including programs and a scrapbook from Mount Holyoke, legal documents, materials relating to her divorce and employment, family papers and photographs. The papers primarily document her time at Mount Holyoke College (1947-1951), her professional career and her divorce. In letters written to her parents while she was in college she discusses her studies in great detail and frequently mentions her teachers, particularly Rachel Bespaloff, Dorothy Cogswell, Catharine W. Pierce, Richard T. Sollenberger, Clarice Tatman, and Beatrice W. Woodward. She often describes her dates and other aspects of her social life and she also discusses her campus and summer jobs. Other Mount Holyoke-related material in the collection includes a scrapbook and syllabi, notes, papers, and examinations that she prepared for English, French, speech, zoology, and, in particular art history courses. The collection also includes notes for high school French classes and a syllabus, quiz, and notes for a religion course at Boston University.

This collection is organized into nine series:

  • Correspondence
  • Course Materials
  • Divorce Materials
  • Legal Documents
  • Job Materials
  • Memorabilia and Clippings
  • Biographical Materials
  • Correspondence to Robert Morris Browning
  • Photographs

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

Materials 1964 on are restricted.

Preferred Citation

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

Mary B. Nelson Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

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.

  • Nelson, Mary B., 1928-1994.
  • Art - History - Study and teaching (Higher) - Massachusetts.
  • Dating (Social custom).
  • Divorced people - United States - Psychology.
  • Marriage - United States.
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Mount Holyoke College - Student Life - 1947-1951.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Students.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Traditions.
  • Students - United States - Correspondence.

Genre terms
  • Letters.
  • Notebooks.
  • Scrapbooks.

Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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