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Mildred Louise Boie Saunders papers, 1914-1997 (Bulk: 1928-1960)
4 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Collection number: SSC.MS.00247

Poet; editor; professor, English; and Red Cross worker, World War II. Collection is primarily personal correspondence, including a lifetime of letters to her twin sister, which read as a personal journal and document her career, romances, family relations, experiences in psychoanalysis, and world events. Other material includes photographs; writings; a travel diary from a trip to Europe; and reports to the Red Cross from Italy and Egypt during World War II.

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 added restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the papers of the Mildred Louise and Maurine Saunders. Copyright to materials created by others 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 must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Sophia Smith Collection

Biographical / Historical

Mildred Louise Boie (called Louise) and her twin sister, Maurine Boie, were born in Plainview, Minnesota on May 20, 1907. Louise attended Mankato Teachers College, then earned her B.S. degree in Education from the University of Minnesota in 1927. From 1927 to 1929, she worked in the creative department for the Harrison-Guthrie Advertising Agency in Minneapolis, and also edited a magazine for the C. & C. Publishing Company. In 1930 Louise went to England for a year, where she studied modern English literature at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, and wrote articles for the London Morning Post and the Spectator. When she returned to the United States she took a position as instructor and head of extension classes in English at the University of Minnesota until 1934, when she received her Masters degree in English from the University. Her thesis is entitled Louisa May Alcott. Also in 1934, Louise was awarded the M.P. Sears and F.Z. Gilbert Fellowship in creative work from Radcliffe College and spent the next year studying there.

From 1935 to 1937, Louise served as assistant professor of English at Smith College. She left Smith in 1937 to be associate editor of poetry for the Atlantic Monthly in Boston, under editor Ted Weeks. She remained there until 1940 when she took a position as publicity head for the American Unitarian Association and Service Committee, organizing humanitarian work in Europe and America, and serving as editor for their publication, the Christian Register. During this time Louise also edited books for Bacon Press. Sometime in the late 1930s, while living in Boston, Louise began psychoanalysis with Dr. Leslia Dalrymple.

Feeling that she needed something more stimulating and rewarding in her life, in 1943 Louise applied for overseas work with the American Red Cross and, until 1946, was stationed at various United States Army bases in France, Italy, and Egypt, where she assisted in civilian relief. She was awarded the Bronze Star by the United States Army for her service. While overseas, Louise wrote several articles and short stories about her experiences which were published in various journals, including Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, and Radcliffe Quartery. In 1946, her book of poems, Better Than Laughter was published by the University of Minnesota Press.

In 1948, Louise married Lt. Colonel William (Bill) Saunders and moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where Bill was chief engineer. After a series of health problems, Bill received an honorable discharge and they moved off base into the city of Fayetteville, where he found work as an architect.

Louise was active in numerous community services in Fayetteville. She did volunteer work for the United Services Fund, the Red Cross, the Mental Health Association, and served on the board of the County Guidance Center Advisory Council. During the 1970s and 80s Louise was executive director of the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults. In 1991, when the Sophia Smith Collection received her papers, Louise was living with Maurine and Weston LaBarre at the Carol Woods Retirement Village in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Although both Louise and her twin, Maurine, were active career women and travelled frequently, usually living in different cities, they always remained extremely close and corresponded regularly, sometimes on a weekly basis. Maurine Boie received her Masters in Social Work from Bryn Mawr in 1934, and thereafter she alternately taught and practiced social work in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. During the late 1930s and early 40s, she was editor-in-chief of the The Family, journal of the Family Welfare Association of America in New York City, and in 1943 she wrote the New York Baby Book which was given to every new mother in the city.

In 1939, Maurine married Weston LaBarre and they eventually moved to Durham, North Carolina. There she helped start the Durham Child Guidance Clinic and was founder of the Durham School for Pregnant School Girls. In 1960, Maurine was appointed assistant professor of Psychiatric Social Work at Duke University, where Weston LaBarre also taught, and in 1971 she returned to psychiatric social work at the Duke University Medical Center.

Louise's sister, Maurine Boie LeBarre, died on September 16, 1991 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Louise Boie Saunders died on November 10, 1997 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Scope and Contents

The Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders Papers consist of 1.5 linear feet (four document boxes) of correspondence, published writings, manuscripts, diaries, photographs, and memorabilia, dating from 1914 to 1978. The bulk of the material dates from 1928 to 1960.

Half of the collection (two document boxes) contain Louise's letters to her twin sister, Maurine, dating from 1928 to the 1960s. The letters serve as Louise's personal journal, in which she shares with her sister intimate reflections on her life, including family relationships, her romances, her experience in psychoanalysis, her observations of world events (especially of World War II), thoughts about her career, her writing, and books she's read. The letters offer an in-depth look at the daily life of a single, working woman in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, written by a talented and very thoughtful writer. The rest of the correspondence (one document box) includes letters to and from other family members, friends, and colleagues of both Louise and Maurine.

Louise's writings fill half a box and consist of published magazine and newspaper articles, book reviews, and poems, including her book, Better Than Laughter. The writings also include typescripts of articles, poems, and short stories, dating from 1926 to 1944. Some of these relate to her work with the Red Cross. Included with her writings are a travel journal from a 1930 trip to Europe (including photographs) and a few pages of journal entries describing her Red Cross work during World War II.

The remainder of the collection (half a document box) consists of biographical material relating to Louise and Maurine, newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and photographs.

The papers are arranged in four series:

  1. I. Biographical
  2. II. Photographs
  3. III. Writings (of Mildred Louise Boie)
  4. IV. 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 added restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the papers of the Mildred Louise and Maurine Saunders. Copyright to materials created by others 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 must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Preferred Citation

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

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders' papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in several installments, from 1991 to 1993, by her sister Maurine's husband, Weston LaBarre.

Processing Information

Processed by Margaret Jessup, 1993.

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

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders

Clippings re: M.L.B.S.
1935-83 undated

Box 1: folder 1
Documents: passport, 1942; will
1942 1955

Box 1: folder 2
Boie-Stephan family genealogy

Box 1: folder 3
1963-78 undated

Box 1: folder 4
1914-73 undated

Box 1: folder 5
Red Cross activities: reports
1944-45 undated

Box 1: folder 6
Maurine (Boie) LaBarre: resume and memorabilia
1929-76 undated

Box 1: folder 7
Miscellaneous clippings
1939-60 undated

Box 1: folder 8
Series II. Photographs

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders


[See also Oversize.]

M.L.B.S. alone
1942-58 undated

Box 1: folder 9
M.L.B.S. with others
1936-58 undated

Box 1: folder 10
Red Cross activities


Box 1: folder 11

Box 1: folder 12

Box 1: folder 13
Family, friends, miscellaneous
1949 undated

Box 1: folder 14
Album of unidentified people in China

Box 1: folder 15
Postcards (blank)

Box 1: folder 16
Series III. Writings (Mildred Louise Boie)

Travel journal (Europe) with photos

Box 2: folder 1
Writings about Red Cross activities

Box 2: folder 2
Published articles, book reviews, and poems
1926-1942 undated

Box 2: folder 3
Better Than Laughter, poems by Mildred Louise Boie

Box 2: folder 4

Articles and stories

"An American's Farewell to England,"

Box 2: folder 5
"Do American Men Spoil Their Wives?"

Box 2: folder 6
"We Keep House for You Boys,"

Box 2: folder 7

Box 2: folder 8
"Please Communicate At Once,"

Box 2: folder 9
1937-40 undated

Box 2: folder 10-14
1934 1941 undated

Box 2: folder 15
Series IV. Correspondence

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders to


Maurine (Boie) LaBarre

Box 3
Maurine (Boie) LaBarre
1940-1960s undated

Box 4
Group letters to family
1936 undated

Box 5: folder 1
Edith (Stephan) Boie
1936-37 undated

Box 5: folder 2
Emil Boie

Box 5: folder 3
Isabelle (Boie) Westby

Box 5: folder 4
Luther Boie

Box 5: folder 5
John LaBarre

Box 5: folder 6
Weston LaBarre
1939 undated

Box 5: folder 7

[See also letters to Maurine]

Friends and associates

Box 5: folder 8
To Louise (Boie) Saunders from


Edith (Stephan) Boie
1925-47 undated

Box 5: folder 9
Isabelle (Boie) Westby
1944-86 undated

Box 5: folder 10
Luther ("Toby") and Ruth Boie
1946 1986 undated

Box 5: folder 11
Maurine (Boie) LaBarre
1954-86 undated

Box 5: folder 12
Friends and associates

George Allen
1936-38 undated

Box 5: folder 13-14
Richard (H.E.) Bates, 1938-39, undated [inc. "Every Bullet Has its Billet," mss. by H.E. Bates, ca. 1938]
1938-39 undated ca.1938

Box 5: folder 15-17
Harriet Beale
1946 undated

Box 5: folder 18
Other friends and associates
1928-90 undated

Box 5: folder 19
1927-67 undated

Box 5: folder 20
To Maurine (Boie) and Weston LaBarre from


Edith and Emil Boie
1928-56 undated

Box 5: folder 21
Isabelle (Boie) Westby
1932 1936 undated

Box 5: folder 22
Luther ("Toby") Boie
1935 1944

Box 5: folder 23
Ruth Boie
1955 1957

Box 5: folder 24
Mrs. Artie LaBarre (Weston's mother)

Box 5: folder 25
William Saunders

Box 5: folder 26
Other family
1926 1946 undated

Box 5: folder 27
To Maurine (Boie) and Weston LaBarre from

Friends and associates

Harriet Beale
1928-50 undated

Box 5: folder 28
O. Spurgeon English

Box 5: folder 29
Chauncey Wu
1932 1936

Box 5: folder 30
Other friends
1926-60 undated

Box 5: folder 31-32
1937-43 undated

Box 5: folder 33
To John LaBarre from family
1946 undated

Box 5: folder 34

[See also Louise (Boie) Saunders to J.L.]

Series V. Oversize Material

Portrait of Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders, watercolor on board

Flat file drawer 35

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.

  • American Universalist Society
  • Atlantic Monthly
  • Bates, H.E. (Herbert Ernest), 1905-1974
  • Boie family
  • LaBarre, Ann
  • LaBarre, Maurine Boie, 1907-
  • LaBarre, Weston
  • Sisters--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Twins--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women and psychoanalysis--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women editors--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women in the professions--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women poets--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945--War work--Red Cross--Sources
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women--Personal narratives, American

Genre terms
  • Manuscripts
  • Writings
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • memorabilia
  • photographs

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