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85-M71; T-485; M-132

Bosworth, Louise Marion, 1881-1982. Papers of Louise Marion Bosworth, 1890-1946: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: 85-M71; T-485; M-132
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Bosworth, Louise Marion, 1881-1982
Title: Papers of Louise Marion Bosworth, 1890-1946
Date(s): 1890-1946
Quantity: 4.59 linear feet (10 file boxes, 2 half file boxes) plus 1 oil painting, 1 reel microfilm (M-132), 8 audiocassettes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, diaries, photographs, etc., of Louise Marion Bosworth, Wellesley student and settlement house worker.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 85-M71, 2013-M70
The papers of Louise Marion Bosworth were purchased by the Schlesinger Library in April 1985 from Dorothy Johnson of the Common Reader Bookshop of New Salem, Massachusetts. Eight audiocassettes were donated to the Schlesinger Library by her great-niece, Alcyon Lord, in April 2013.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: October 1985
By: Anne Engelhart, Beryl Satter, and Eila Savela
Updated and additional material added: September 2015
By: Mark Vassar with the assistance of Brett Freiberger

Conditions Governing Access:

Access. Most of the collection is open for research. Folders #170-#177 are closed; use digital images or microfilm (M-132). An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Louise Marion Bosworth as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


  • Questionnaires were microfilmed in numerical order according to the type of form used. Those headed "Living Wage for Self-Supporting Women" were filmed first, followed by "Living Wage Schedule." Some numbers are missing, and unnumbered questionnaires were placed at the end. Notes attached to a specific questionnaire were filmed following that questionnaire.
  • Original questionnaires were closed to research after microfilming.
  • For a list of the contents of accession number 85-M71, see the inventory that follows. When requesting microfilmed material, please use the microfilm number (M-132).
  • Preferred Citation:

    Louise Marion Bosworth Papers, 1890-1946; item description, dates. 85-M71, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


    Louise Marion Bosworth was born on July 11, 1881, one of five children of Alfred Bosworth and Eleanora (Wheeler) Bosworth. She grew up in Elgin, Illinois, where her father was president of the First National Bank. After attending Elgin Academy, she studied at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts (1900-1901), and at Mountain Seminary in Birmingham, Pennsylvania (1901-1902). In 1902, Bosworth entered Wellesley College; she became president of the Philosophy Club, a house president, and manager of the senior play, and was graduated in 1907.
    As the Women's Educational and Industrial Union Fellow (1907-1909), Bosworth participated in the Union's survey of incomes and expenditures of women workers. She published the results of this investigation, including detailed analyses of the finances of 450 wage earners in the city of Boston, as The Living Wage of Women Workers, a supplement to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Philadelphia, 1911; see 331.2/074 in the Schlesinger Library book division). During this period Bosworth sought to live on her salary of $9.61 a week, was active on a number of Union committees, and took courses at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Radcliffe College, where she studied economics.
    In 1911, Bosworth worked for settlement houses in Chicago, where she received a certificate from the Chicago School of Philanthropy in Traverse City, Michigan; and in Philadelphia, where she took part in a survey of available housing. She later published Housing Conditions in Main Line Towns (Philadelphia: Committee on Investigation of the Main Line Housing Association, 193?). In March 1912, she took a temporary post as county agent for the Ulster County (New York) Agency for Dependent Children. In March 1914 she was in Chicago considering various jobs, and in May took a four-week course sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation. That October she took part in an investigation of living costs under the auspices of the Survey Committee of the Cleveland Foundation. Details of the remainder of her life are sketchy. She lived and worked in St. Paul, Minnesota; New York City; Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Elgin, Illinois; and Washington, Connecticut. She was plagued with bouts of illness and often went to Gould Farm in Great Barrington to recover. She died in Connecticut on August 6, 1982.


    The collection consists of correspondence, diaries, and school papers of Louisa Marion Bosworth; photographs of Bosworth, her family, and Wellesley College; and questionnaires, account books, investigators' reports, and other material pertaining to the Women's Educational and Industrial Union's living wage survey. Eight audiotapes (accession number 2013-M70) were added to the collection in September 2015. These audiotapes are located in #183-189 (request as T-485, reels 1-8).
    The bulk of the correspondence is between family members, most notably an exchange (approximately 1900-1915) of letters between Bosworth and her mother during her years away at school and following graduation from college. Earlier letters (1900-1907) detail the daily concerns of a student, including friends, course work, and social activities. Later letters (1907-1914) to her mother discuss Bosworth's work at settlement houses in Boston and elsewhere, and occasionally include references to such prominent figures in the field of social work as Jane Addams, Grace Alfred Bosworthbott, and Sophonisba Breckinridge. Her mother's letters are full of family news and local affairs; both frequently discuss their health and various medicines. Correspondence between Bosworth and other relatives, and among family members, dates mostly from 1900-1920, although there are letters through the 1940s. Some letters, as well as bank statements and receipts, reveal the family's finances.
    Correspondence with friends centers on an exchange of letters (1902-1907) between Bosworth and her college classmate, Ethel Sturtevant; their relationship ended in 1908. Much of the remaining correspondence with friends is from the 1930s and 1940s and concerns Bosworth's health.
    The two diaries date from 1901 and 1943. The former chronicles student life at Dana Hall, and discusses certain family relationships; it includes Bosworth's spiritual musings. In the latter, written in the aftermath of a nervous breakdown, Bosworth discusses her depression, the development of her sexuality, and the breakup of her friendship with Ethel Sturtevant; she analyses the characters of her siblings and her relationships with them and with other friends.
    The photographs include a few family portraits; most, however, date from Bosworth's college years and include her classmates, dramatic presentations, and many Wellesley College interiors and buildings. An oil portrait, probably of Bosworth, was most likely painted by her sister Winifred.
    The questionnaires from the Women's Educational and Industrial Union's living wage survey were for the most part filled out by the investigators, although an occasional form was completed by the respondent. Among the questions are country of birth, employment history, income and expenditures, and type of lodging. Expenditures for lodging, food, clothing, health, recreation, education, and other categories are recorded separately. There are typescript reports describing rooming-houses and dining-halls in which respondents lived and ate, as well as Bosworth's account books, account books kept by others, and drafts of chapters and preliminary statistical charts for the published report.
    Two audiotapes include recordings of an interview of Bosworth by her niece, Cynthia Downs Lord, in which they discuss Bosworth's memories of her family members, their relationships, illnesses, etc. The remaining eight audiotapes include recordings of an ongoing conversation between Abbie Louise (Bosworth) Williams, Cynthia Downes Lord, Irving Lord, and a woman identified only Eleanora (who is presumably a cousin) in which they relate memories of Bosworth and Lord family members and of Elgin, Illinois.



    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Boston--Social life and customs
    College students
    Cost and standard of living
    Depressed persons--United States
    Finance, Personal
    Illinois--Social life and customs
    Mothers and daughters
    School children
    Social settlements
    Social workers
    Teenage girls
    Voyages and travels
    Wellesley, Mass.--Social life and customs
    Women--Health and hygiene
    Women--Sexual behavior
    Working class--Massachusetts
    Abbott, Grace, 1878-1939
    Addams, Jane, 1860-1935
    Boston Women's Trade Union League
    Bosworth, Winifred, 1885-
    Breckinridge, Sophonisba Preston, 1866-1948
    College Settlement of Philadelphia
    Dana Hall (Wellesley, Mass.)
    Denison House
    Gould Farm (Great Barrington, Mass.)
    Hull House
    Kehew, Mary Morton (Kimball), 1859-1918
    Rockport Lodge (Rockport, Mass.)
    Wellesley College
    Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Mass.)