Five College Archives and Manuscript
Home >> Smith College Archives >> Howard Madison Parshley Papers, 1913-1953
Smith College seal
Howard Madison Parshley Papers, 1913-1953
3 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 42

Professor, zoology, translator, The Second Sex. Contains, biographical information, articles, correspondence, photographs, published works, notes and translations. Notable correspondents include Adelaide Cromwell and Margaret Sanger.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives.

Restrictions on use:

All rights are owned by the various publishers and authors and permission is required for publication beyond "fair use."

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Howard Madison Parshley was a professor at Smith from 1917 until 1952, and the chairman of the Zoology Department for many years. His early specialization in entomology broadened to include studies of genetics, reproduction and human sexuality. At Smith he taught classes in general zoology, genetics/reproduction and entomology. His publications included books, reviews and more than 300 articles in scientific as well as nonscientific journals. His books include Science and Good Behavior, The Science of Human Reproduction, and A Survey of Biology. Parshley was recognized as an international authority on the Hemiptera-Heteroptera and was editor of the General Catalogue of the Hemiptera. Parshley wrote the screenplay and co-starred with Clarence Darrow, the well-known evolutionist of the Scopes trial, in the documentary film, "The Mystery of Life," which was filmed and released in 1931. His fellow faculty called him a "pioneer in the application of the scientific outlook to the behavior of man." A talented musician and music-lover, for decades he played the double bass in the Smith College Orchestra, in the Pioneer Valley Symphony and in the professional Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Born to a pianist and a Baptist minister in Hallowell, Maine in 1884, Parshley grew up in eastern New York. With a strong classical education from the Boston Latin School (1901-1905) he went on to study at Harvard University, achieving an A.B. (1909), an A.M. (1910) and an Sc.D (1917). Concurrent with these studies Parshley also attended the New England Conservatory of Music. He married Nancy Fredricson in 1910. From 1911 to 1914 he taught zoology at the University of Maine in Orono. The Parshley's son, Thomas Fredricson Parshley was born in 1912 and their daughter, Elsa Parshley Brown, Smith '35 was born in 1914.

In 1917, Parshley accepted a position at Smith as assistant professor of zoology. He soon became professor and later chairman of the Department. He began translating into English what is now called "The Feminist Bible," Simone de Beauvoir's groundbreaking and controversial Le Deuxieme Sexe, in November 1949. During his work, he suffered a minor heart attack in 1952. Shortly after the publication of his translation of The Second Sex, and the completion of his translation of a French zoology book on mammals, Parshley died of a second heart attack on May 19, 1953. Parshley's translation of de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is still in print and widely used by Women's Studies programs throughout the English-speaking world.

[Biographical note prepared in cooperation with Elsa Parshley Brown]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Parshley papers are divided into four Series. Series I, located in Box 1, Folder 1, includes biographical information such as newspaper articles, faculty files, obituaries and other miscellaneous items. Series II, in Box 1, Folder 2, consists of photographs only. Series III, in Box 1, Folders 3 through 10, is correspondence, divided into two sections: correspondence with family and associates and correspondence concerning the translation and publication of The Second Sex. The first section, located in Folder 3, includes letters from Margaret Sanger and Adelaide Cromwell, Smith, class of 1940. Series IV consists of Parshley's published works and is also divided into two sections: articles and reviews, Box 2, Folders 1 - 3, and the translation of The Second Sex and related material, beginning in Box 2, Folder 4 and continuing through Box 3. In Folder 4 - 7 are Parshley's copy of Le Deuxieme Sexe, news clippings, publishing notes and translation notes, respectively. The translated manuscript begins in Folder 8 and continues through Box 3.

This collection is organized into four series:

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

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives.

Restrictions on use:

All rights are owned by the various publishers and authors and permission is required for publication beyond "fair use."

Preferred Citation

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

Howard Madison Parshley Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

The Second Sex manuscript and related materials were donated by Professor Parshley's daughter, Elsa Parshley Brown, Smith class of 1935. All other materials are from various sources at Smith College.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Series I. Biographical


Box 1: folder 1
SERIES II: Photographs


Box 1: folder 2
SERIES III: Correspondence

Correspondence with family and associates

Box 1: folder 3
Correspondence on the translation of Le Deuxieme Sexe
Jul 1949 - Dec 1949

Box 1: folder 4
Jan 1950 - Dec 1950

Box 1: folder 5
Jan 1951 - Jun 1951

Box 1: folder 6
Jul 1951 - Dec 1951

Box 1: folder 7
Jan 1952 - Jun 1952

Box 1: folder 8
Jul 1952 - Jan 1953

Box 1: folder 9
Mar 1953 - Apr 1953

Box 1: folder 10
SERIES IV: Publications

Publications: A - G

Box 2: folder 1
Publications: H - Z

Box 2: folder 2
Publications: Reviews

Box 2: folder 3
Copy of Le Deuxieme Sexe by Simone de Beauvior

Box 2: folder 4
The Second Sex: News clippings, miscellany

Box 2: folder 5
The Second Sex: Publishing notes

Box 2: folder 6
The Second Sex: Translation notes

Box 2: folder 7
The Second Sex: Manuscript: Book I, Preface and Part I, p.1-127

Box 2: folder 8
Book I, Part II, p.128-232

Box 3: folder 1
Book I, Part III, Chap IX,

Box 3: folder 2
Book I, Part III, Chap X-XI,

Box 3: folder 3
Book II, Part I, Chap I

Box 3: folder 4
Book II, Part I, Chap II

Box 3: folder 5
Book II, Part I-II, Chap IV-V

Box 3: folder 6
Book II, Part II, Chap VI-VII

Box 3: folder 7
Book II, Part II, Chap VIII-X

Box 3: folder 8
Book II, Part III

Box 3: folder 9
Book II, Part IV

Box 3: folder 10
"The Mystery of Life": film poster

Box OV

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.

  • Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908- Deuxieme sexe.
  • Parshley, H. M. (Howard Madison), 1884-1953.
  • Smith College--Faculty.

  • Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908- Deuxieme sexe.
  • Cromwell, Adelaide M.
  • Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966.

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