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Frances Rich papers, 1912-1980
5 boxes (2.75 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 129

Sculptor; Director, Smith College Public Relations; and Officer, United States Naval Reserve, World War II. Focuses primarily on her career as a sculptor, with a small amount of material on her work (as student and staff) at Smith College and in U.S. Navy. Material includes correspondence, biographical articles, research files, clippings, exhibit catalogs (sculptures of notable people), posters, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restriction. Copyright to materials created by Frances Rich is owned by her estate. Copyright to materials created by persons other than Frances Rich may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Irene Frances Luther Rich was born in Spokane, Washington, on 8 January 1910. She was named after her mother, Irene Frances Luther (film actress Irene Rich), but used Frances Rich to avoid confusion. She was educated in Swiss schools and at the School for Girls in Santa Barbara, California. She received a B.A. from Smith College in 1931 with a major in English Literature.

In the years following her graduation, Rich appeared in a number of Hollywood films and on stage. In 1933 she met sculptor, Malvina Hoffman, and studied with her in Paris for two years. When she returned to the U.S. Rich did intensive work at the Boston Museum School and established her own studio in New York City. Between 1937 and 1940 she was a resident student at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she met sculptor Carl Milles, with whom she worked for the next eighteen years.

When the United States entered World War II, Rich began work as a mechanical draftsman at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California. In 1942 she joined the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Navy as a Junior Grade Lieutenant, graduating in the first class of women at the Officer's Training School at Smith College. She was posted to Washington, D.C. and became the National Director of Publicity for "V" Mail and traveling speaker for the Director of the WAVES. When she was discharged at the end of the war, Rich held the rank of Lt. Commander and received a citation for outstanding service from the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Following the war she did graduate work at Scripps College working with sculptor Albert Stewart, and at Columbia University. In 1947 she became the first Director of Public Relations at Smith College, a post she held until 1950 when she resigned to return to her art work. Rich has been featured in many publications and has exhibited in major art centers. Her works include portrait busts, wall and door panels, plaques and medallions, drawings, and statues. Subjects of her portrait busts include Alice Stone Blackwell, Lotte Lehmann, Margaret Sanger, Diego Rivera, and Katharine Hepburn. She also sculpted the Army-Navy Nurse Monument in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Much of her work is religious in nature and includes statues of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joseph, Christ of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Combermere, St. Catherine of Siena, and various Madonnas. Rich established studios in California, and Payson, Arizona.

Frances Rich died at her home in Payson, Arizona, on October 14, 2007

Scope and contents of the collection

The Frances Rich Papers focus primarily on her professional career as a sculptor, but include a small amount of material about her work as Public Relations Director at Smith College and her service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The Papers are arranged in three series:


Types of material include correspondence, articles and clippings, memorabilia, photographs, exhibit catalogs, posters, and scrapbooks. Photographs are located in both SERIES II and III.

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

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restriction. Copyright to materials created by Frances Rich is owned by her estate. Copyright to materials created by persons other than Frances Rich may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

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

Frances Rich Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

Frances Rich donated her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection from 1981 to 1996. Priscilla Cunningham donated her letters from Rich in 2002. Additional materials were donated by Anthony Lame, son of Rich's college roommate, Mary Perkins Lame, in 2013.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised by Susan Boone in 2004.

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

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

Separated Material

Additional papers are housed at Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), Getty Department of Humanities (Santa Monica, California), and Smith College Archives. In addition there nine of Rich's works of art located on the Smith College Campus (see Appendix I for locations). In 1982 Rich donated to the Sophia Smith Collection ten World War II WAVES recruitment posters. These are not part of the Frances Rich Papers and are located in the Sophia Smith Collection flat files.

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
.5 linear feet

This series contains three subseries: Miscellaneous, Smith College, and U. S. Navy. The Miscellaneous material consists of clippings and articles (1931-77), an interview done by Mayne Ober Park for the Boston Globe in 1940, and two scrapbooks (1952-59) consisting primarily of clippings. In addition there is a small amount of correspondence. It consists of fourteen letters Rich wrote to Priscilla Cunningham (1979 -88), one letter from Irene Rich to Frances Snow (1931), two letters written to Frances Rich, and three third party letters about the possibility of granting Rich a Smith College Medal.

The Smith College subseries contains printed material and memorabilia about Rich as a student, alumna, and as Director of Public Relations (1947-50). The latter also contains correspondence regarding the publication of This Is Smith College (1949).

The U.S. Navy material includes correspondence and printed material related to Rich's service with the U. S. Navy Reserve (1942-48, 1980) and her training, particularly officer training at Smith College. There is also correspondence related to an oral history of Admiral Nimitz and the WAVES (1969-70).

Photographs from these two subseries are located in SERIES III.

.75 linear feet

This series is organized into two subseries: Works and Exhibitions. Works consists mostly of photographs of Rich's work, but also contains some related correspondence and printed material. It is arranged by date. (See Appendix II for an alphabetical list of these works.) Statues of the Army-Navy Nurses in Arlington National Cemetery, St Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Combermere, St. Catherine of Siena, and the Spirit of the Grape; portrait busts of Lotte Lehmann, Diego Rivera, Margaret Sanger, and Katharine Hepburn; and drawings and photographs used for her work are represented in this subseries. Two copies of The Sculpture of Frances Rich by Merle Armitage (1974) are also included.

The Exhibitions subseries includes photographs, correspondence, exhibit catalogs, articles and printed material. There is significant documentation of exhibitions at the Palm Springs Desert Museum (1969 and 1977) including two copies of The Sculpture of Frances Rich: Frances Rich Retrospective Exhibition, 7th February - 2nd March, 1969.

.25 linear feet

This series contains approximately seventy-five photographs, the bulk of which are photographs of Frances Rich alone (1914-77), with her mother Irene Rich, and with others. The latter include Laura Scales, Lottie Lehmann, Elissa Landi, Eugene Ormandy, John Ford, Diego Rivera, and Benjamin Wright. There are also photographs of Diego Rivera's fresco of Rich. In addition there are Smith College photographs from Rich's student years (1928-31), her tenure as Smith College Director of Public Relations (1947-50), and from her service with the U.S. Navy. Many of these are of her WAVES training at Smith College. There are also two photographs of Lotte Lehman, two of Irene Rich, and finally photographs of Rich's two California studio/homes: Hope and Shumway ranches (1941-68).

Contents List

Clippings, articles, and memorabilia,
1931-77, undated

Box 1: folder 1
Interview by Mayme Ober Park,

Box 1: folder 2

Box 1: folder 3-4

Box 1
To Priscilla Cunningham,

Box 1: folder 5
1931-58, 1977

Box 1: folder 6
Smith College

Box 1

Box 1

Box 1: folder 7
1928-31, 1975-79

Box 1: folder 8
Director of Public Relations

Box 1
Articles and printed material,
1947-50, undated

Box 1: folder 9
This Is Smith College: correspondence,

Box 1: folder 10
U.S. Navy

Box 1
Clippings and articles,
1942-48, 1980, undated

Box 1: folder 11
Oral history of Admiral Nimitz and the WAVES: correspondence,

Box 1: folder 12


Box 1
1931-77, undated

Box 2: folder 1-4
Laura Scales,

Box 2: folder 5
Army/Navy Nurse, Arlington National Cemetery,

Box 2: folder 6
Diego Rivera,

Box 2: folder 7
St. Francis of Assisi

Box 2

Box 2: folder 8
Clippings, articles, and printed materials,

Box 2: folder 9
Lotte Lehmann,

Box 2: folder 10
Questing Madonna,

Box 2: folder 11
St. Joseph,

Box 2: folder 12
Margaret Sanger,

Box 2: folder 13

Box 2: folder 14
Seated female figure,

Box 2: folder 15
Alice Stone Blackwell,

Box 2: folder 16
Katharine Hepburn,
1958, 1961

Box 2: folder 17
Our Lady of Combermere,

Box 2: folder 18
St. Catherine of Sienna,

Box 2: folder 19

Box 2: folder 20
Spirit of the Grape,

Box 2: folder 21
Birds in Flight,

Box 3: folder 1
Photographs containing more than one work or unidentified works,
1977-78, undated

Box 3: folder 2
1944-46, undated

Box 3: folder 3
The Sculpture of Frances Rich by Merle Armitage,(two copies, both autographed)

Box 3

Box 3
California Palace of the Legion of Honor,

Box 3: folder 4
Palm Springs Desert Museum

Box 3
Frances Rich Retrospective Exhibition,

Box 3: folder 5
Frances Rich Sculpture Show,

Box 3: folder 6

Box 3: folder 7

Box 3: folder 8

Rich, Frances

Box 3

Box 4: folder 1
With others,
1937-72, undated

Box 4: folder 2
With Irene Rich,
circa 1912-46, undated

Box 4: folder 3
Smith College

Box 4

Box 4: folder 4
Director of Public Relations,

Box 4: folder 5
U.S. Navy,
1941-47, undated

Box 4: folder 6
Lehmann, Lotte,

Box 4: folder 7
Rich, Irene,
circa 1941

Box 4: folder 8
Studios: Hope and Shumway Ranches,
1941-68, undated

Box 4: folder 9

Sculpture of Margaret Sanger's head, and clipping,

Box 5

Flat File dwr 33
Spirit of the Grape

Flat File dwr 33
Birds in Flight,

Flat File dwr 33
Jane, Frances, and Irene Rich,

Flat File dwr 33
Frances and Irene Rich,
circa 1942

Flat File dwr 33
Vice Admiral Morris Denfeldt,

Flat File dwr 33
Certificate from the American Bicentennial Research Institute,

Flat File dwr 33
Shumway Ranch, Palm Desert, California

Flat File dwr 33
Plans for studio and caretakers cottage

Flat File dwr 33
Bureau of Land Management map

Flat File dwr 33

Flat File dwr 33
St. Francis of Asissi

Flat File dwr 33
Spirit of the Grape

Flat File dwr 33
Seated Woman with Child

Flat File dwr 33
Harboe Nude

Flat File dwr 33

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.

  • Blackwell, Alice Stone, 1857-1950
  • Hepburn, Katharine, 1907-2003
  • Lehmann, Lotte
  • Rich, Frances
  • Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957
  • Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966
  • Sculptors--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Smith College--Students--History--Sources
  • United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve--History--Sources
  • Women sculptors--United States--History--20th century--Sources

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