Mary Ritter Beard Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Mary Ritter Beard Papers are a small but significant collection of Beard's correspondence, writings, and materials from the World Center for Women's Archives (WCWA). Beard destroyed most of her personal papers. Nonetheless, what remains provides fascinating insight into one of the most significant American intellectuals of the twentieth century. Margaret Storrs Grierson, Smith College Archivist, established the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC), one the largest repositories for primary sources in women's history, in consultation with Beard. The documents in this collection pertain primarily to the years surrounding the demise of the WCWA and the founding of the Sophia Smith Collection.
A small amount of biographical material includes photographs and clippings. The correspondence spans the mid-1940s to early 1950s. Letters exchanged between Beard, Dorothy [Dick] Brush, and Ethel Weed pertain to a proposed book on Japanese women's history. The project began as a collaboration between Brush and Beard. Beard ultimately authored Woman as Force in Japanese History (1953). Ethel Weed provided research assistance and served as a liaison between Beard and Shidzue Kato, a prominent Japanese activist and Diet member involved in the drafting of the Japanese Constitution following World War II.
Correspondence between Beard, Margaret Grierson, and Grierson's companion Marine Leland offers special insight into Beard's personal life. The correspondence details Beard's professional life in the 1940s and 1950s as well. She deposited the materials from the defunct WCWA at Smith, Radcliffe College (at what would become the Schlesinger Library), and elsewhere, and the correspondence documents Beard's efforts to continue the mission of the WCWA. Beard and Grierson collaborated to establish the Sophia Smith Collection and sought each other's advice in their efforts to preserve and promote women's history. There is a microfilmed copy of Beard's outgoing correspondence that includes correspondence in the Beard Papers and other collections of the Sophia Smith Collection. See the Appendix at the end of this finding aid for a list of correspondents.
The writings of Mary Beard include printed magazine articles and speeches. A typed and printed syllabus and bibliography prepared for the American Association of University Women analyzes the "Changing Political Economy as it Affects Women." There are also typescripts and research materials from various projects undertaken by Beard in the 1940s, including notes on women in American history and a study of the representation of women in the Enclyclopedia Britannica. A significant amount of material was generated from the Japanese women's history project. The collection contains third party correspondence concerning research and the manuscript, typescripts of sections of the project, and research materials, including clippings about Shidzue Kato [see also incoming correspondence from Ethel Weed for notes from an interview of Kato]. The Papers contain printed copies of several of Beard's books, including those coauthored with Charles Beard.
The last section of material concerns the World Center for Women's Archives. The materials in Beard Papers pertaining to the WCWA consist of correspondence, which includes letters to the general membership regarding the dissolution of the WCWA and letters between Mary Ritter Beard and donors to the archive; a file of general material; and a report from Dora Ettinger about women in Germany that was intended to become a WCWA document.