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Ruth S. Rafferty Papers , circa 1905-1926
1 box (0.42 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0824 (LD 7092.8 Rafferty)

Rafferty, Ruth Sherburne, 1892-1926; Student, summer camp counselor and secondary school English teacher. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1915. Papers contain correspondence, a journal, essays and other writings (including her illustrated parody of Edward Lear's works), a scrapbook, memorabilia, a biographical note, obituaries, and photographs. Primarily concerning a high school trip to Washington, D.C. in 1909, her academic and social activities as a Mount Holyoke student, and her work as a summer camp counselor and secondary school English teacher in 1915.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Ruth Sherburne Rafferty was born in San Francisco, California on September 5, 1892 to Thomas E. Rafferty, an interior decorator, and Florence A. Rafferty. Her family moved to Methuen, Massachusetts in 1896 and she graduated from Methuen High School. She attended Mount Holyoke College from 1911-1915 and received her B.A. in 1915, graduating with a major in English. In the summer of 1915 she worked as a camp counselor in Maine and in the fall of 1915 she became an English teacher at Hudson (New York) High School. She was a student of journalism at Columbia University between 1917-1918. In 1918 she became secretary and editor of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly. She taught English at the Thurston Preparatory School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Buckingham School in Cambridge, Massachusetts between 1921-1925. She died in Methuen on July 9, 1926 at the age of thirty-three.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ruth S. Rafferty Papers consist of correspondence, a journal, essays and other writings, a scrapbook, memorabilia, a biographical note, obituaries, and photographs. The material in the collection primarily documents her social and academic life as a high school and Mount Holyoke College student and her subsequent work as a summer camp counselor and teacher. In five detailed letters written to her mother during her freshman year at Mount Holyoke, 1911-1912, she discusses parties, faculty members, campus food, a basketball game, a Mountain Day excursion, and her grades. Letters written during the summer of 1915 after her graduation from Mount Holyoke describe her activities as a counselor at a summer camp in Maine. The remaining eighteen letters in the collection reflect her life as a high school teacher in Hudson, New York. She discusses the size of the classroom, her students and colleagues, her workload, the lack of experienced teachers, and her living expenses. She also discusses her social life. Other documents in the collection include a journal in which she describes a high school trip to Washington D.C. in about 1909 with stops at Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City. The journal includes an account of her expenses during the trip. Among her writings is a short parody of Edward Lear's works entitled "Lear's Catalog" that contains illustrations of plant species such as the "Armcharia Comfortabilis,""Smalltoothcombia Domestica," and "Manypeeplia Upsidonia." The scrapbook dating from circa 1911-1926 contains newspaper clippings that mention her activities in high school and at Mount Holyoke, as well as several snapshots of Rafferty and her friends. Rounding out the collection are several programs, certificates, and greeting cards, her grammar school and high school diplomas, biographical notes and obituaries from 1921-1926, and more photographs of Rafferty and others.

This collection is organized into seven series:

  • Correspondence
  • Journal
  • Writings
  • Scrapbook
  • Memorabilia
  • Biographical Information
  • Photographs

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


Restrictions on use:


Preferred Citation

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

Ruth S. Rafferty 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

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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.

  • Camp counselors Maine Correspondence.
  • College students Massachusetts.
  • High school teachers New York (State) Correspondence.
  • High schools New York (State) Hudson History 20th century Sources.
  • Lear, Edward, 1812-1888. Parodies, imitations, etc.
  • Mount Holyoke College Basketball.
  • Mount Holyoke College Faculty.
  • Mount Holyoke College Student life 1911-1912.
  • Mount Holyoke College Students.
  • Mountain Day 1911.
  • Mountain Day Massachusetts South Hadley.
  • Rafferty, Ruth S. (Ruth Sherburne), 1892-1926
  • Student activities Massachusetts South Hadley.
  • Voyages and travels.
  • Washington, D.C. Description and travel.
  • Women college students Massachusetts.

Genre terms
  • Diaries.
  • Letters.
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.

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