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Barbara Abel Papers, 1925-1989
4 boxes (1.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 596

Abstract:
Public relations specialist, Columnist, Journalist, YWCA worker, Editor. The papers primarily relate to Abel's professional life and include her magazine columns for the YWCA and Community Chests and Councils of America, scripts for skits and plays, and a variety of other pieces written in the course of Abel's work as editor and publicity director for a variety of organizations.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright ownership of Barbara Abel's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Barbara Abel 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. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
Poem by Barbara Abel, October 16, 1952

Poem by Barbara Abel, October 16, 1952

Writer, editor, and public relations specialist Barbara Abel was born on January 5, 1895, in Elizabethtown, New York. She was the second daughter of Lucinda Pond and William H. Abel, who worked for the railroad in Chicago. Abel's mother journeyed from Chicago to Elizabethtown, the family's home in the Adirondacks, for the births of both Barbara and her sister. Barbara grew up in Chicago, but spent summers in Elizabethtown among extended family.

Educated in the public schools in Springfield, Illinois, and Kansas City, Missouri, Abel started college at Kansas University, then transferred to Northwestern University where she earned a B.A. in 1918.

Immediately after college, she worked for the Evanston, Illinois, News Index (1918-19) covering "deaths and women's clubs." In 1920 she became Publicity Secretary for the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago.

Abel joined the staff of the YWCA of the U.S.A. as managing editor of its magazine The Womans Press in July of 1925. She began her regular column "The Press Pussy" in January 1926. An extremely popular humorous look at the YWCA, it was a regular feature of the magazine until December 1944. In addition to this monthly column, Abel wrote a wide variety of pieces for the Womans Press, as well as many skits for use at meetings, conferences, and Conventions. She and her "dearest friend of decades standing," Florence Nichols, also regularly produced delightful cartoons on YWCA themes for the Womans Press.

Abel left the National Association in the fall of 1931 to become Publicity Director for the Metropolitan Chicago YWCA. In 1945 she returned to New York City to take the job of Public Relations Director for the Community Chests and Councils of the U.S.A. (CCC) where she edited their magazine Community and developed a similarly beloved column, "The Red Feather." Among her duties at CCC was drafting annual campaign kick-off speeches for the U.S. President and Vice President. She retired from CCC in 1960. One colleague wrote at her retirement, "Now I shall have to resign myself to uninspired and turgid prose, and I don't like the idea at all."

In addition to her work for the YWCA and CCC, Abel published "light verse" in The New Yorker and other "leading magazines," and wrote articles for the National Dairy Association.

In retirement, Abel and Nichols divided their time between Abel's summer house "Bob-up" in Elizabethtown, and a small New York City apartment where Abel took on the odd freelance writing project.

She died in Elizabethtown on May 22, 1966.

In a memorial tribute, Abel's friend and colleague Henry W. Kritzmacher, described Barbara as "among the elite who foresaw sophistication in a field where the blunt, outstretched hand was rampant." He characterized her work as "a pinnacle of creative writing art which etched its message in a concise, trenchant comment that tore away sham, and in a wry humor . . . sold by underselling, or spanked by patting fiery heads."

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Barbara Abel Papers consist of 1.5 linear ft. and are primarily related to her professional life, dating from 1918 to 1989. Types of materials include correspondence, speeches, photographs, press releases, reports, journal and newspaper articles, magazine columns, scripts for skits and plays, speeches, writings, editorial files, and memorabilia.

The bulk of the papers date from 1926 to 1960 and consist primarily of scripts for skits and magazine columns for the YWCA and Community Chests and Councils of America. Other files give a sense of Abel's work as an editor an speech writer. Though the biographical materials are scant, her lively personality and wit are abundantly represented in the writings and correspondence.


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 without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright ownership of Barbara Abel's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Barbara Abel 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. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

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

Barbara Abel Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The Barbara Abel Papers came to the Sophia Smith Collection with the YWCA of the U.S.A. Records in 2002. The YWCA received them from Marion O. Robinson in 1977.

Processing Information

Processed by Maida Goodwin, June 2008


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English