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MC 426

Gladding, Anna Spicer, 1906-1992. Papers of Anna Spicer Gladding and Miriam Van Waters, 1885-1992: 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

Call No.: MC 426
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Gladding, Anna Spicer, 1906-1992
Title: Papers of Anna Spicer Gladding and Miriam Van Waters, 1855-1992
Date(s): 1855-1992
Quantity: 5 linear feet (12 file boxes) plus 4 folio+ folders, 57 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 volume, 1 audiotape)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, diaries, photographs, etc., of librarian Anna Spicer Gladding, and penologist Miriam Van Waters.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 82-M183, 84-M74, 89-M78, 89-M146, 93-M52, 93-M53, 93-M73, 93-M81, 93-M174, 94-M7, 94-M18
These papers of Anna Spicer Gladding and Miriam Van Waters were given to the Schlesinger Library in September 1982 and May 1984 by Anna Gladding; in April 1989 by Cynthia Thomas; in August 1989 by Anna Gladding and Margaret Van Wagenen; in April and May 1993 by Margaret Van Wagenen; in May 1993 by Margaret Van Wagenen (via Mary Q. Hawkes); in April 1993 by Richard, Peter, and George Hildebrandt (via Margaret Van Wagenen); and in November 1993 by Margaret Trapwell, and in January 1994 by Margaret Van Wagenen (via Estelle Friedman)

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1993
By: Susan von Salis


Access. Researchers wishing to see any portion of the collection must first sign a form agreeing not to reveal the identity of any prisoner or former prisoner at any correctional institution; anyone who was arrested, accused of a crime, or otherwise in a sensitive position (e.g., in financial trouble or in mental difficulties); or the families of the aforementioned. Folders 191-195 are closed in accordance with Massachusetts state law.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Anna Spicer Gladding and Miriam Van Waters is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.

Preferred Citation:

Anna Spicer Gladding. Papers of Anna Spicer Gladding and Miriam Van Waters, 1855-1992; item description, dates. MC 426, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Miriam Van Waters, 1861-1971 (A-71).


Anna Spicer Gladding was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1906 or 1907, the daughter of Royal and Anna (Spicer) Gladding. She was a graduate of Vassar College and studied early childhood education at the Merrill School in Detroit. She applied her education first as a teacher in the Smith College Nursery School, and then in the nursery at the Reformatory for Women in Framingham, Massachusetts, where she was hired the same year (1932) that Miriam Van Waters became superintendent. In 1957 she became the reformatory's librarian. She was also director of the Friendly Visitors' program, organist and choir director, and leader of the literary discussion and nature study groups. She retired in 1984, and died in Ashland, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1992.


Miriam Van Waters was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on October 4, 1887. She was one of five children of Rev. George Brown and Maude (Vosburg) Van Waters. She received a B.A. in philosophy (1908) and the A.M. in psychology (1910) from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. from Clark University in 1913. After suffering a debilitating bout of tuberculosis, she served as director (1919-1920) of El Retiro, a school for delinquent girls in California, referee (1920-1930) for the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, and consultant for the Wickersham Commission (1928- 1931), and on a number of other boards and commissions.
Her most noted work was as superintendent of the Reformatory for Women at Framingham (1932-1957). Her liberal views on penal reform brought her both praise and condemnation. In January 1949 she was fired because of alleged administrative failings, such as condoning lesbianism among the "students" (as she called the prisoners) and failing to supervise a work-release program properly. After a lengthy hearing process she was reinstated. Van Waters was the author of Youth in Conflict (1925) and Parents on Probation (1927).
Although Van Waters never married, she had close family ties. She adopted a daughter, Sarah Ann, in 1932; her brother Ralph and his wife Bertha lived nearby, and after the death of Van Waters' father, her mother went to live with Van Waters. Sarah Ann Van Waters married Richard Hildebrandt; they had three sons and later divorced. Sarah Ann Van Waters died in an automobile accident in 1953. Miriam Van Waters died in a hospital in Framingham on January 17, 1974. For additional biographical information, see Notable American Women: The Modern Period (1980).


The collection is arranged in three series:


The collection has been divided into three series: Papers of Anna Gladding, Papers of Miriam Van Waters, and Photographs.
Series I, Papers of Anna Gladding, #1-196, documents Gladding's work at the reformatory, largely in the nursery. There are also printed materials (mostly clippings) collected by Gladding, most of which pertain to the accusations, trial, dismissal, and subsequent reinstatement of Van Waters. The clippings have been photocopied and discarded. There are many letters between Gladding and Van Waters, but little other personal correspondence.
Series II, Papers of Miriam Van Waters, #197-376, comprises the bulk of the collection. Personal materials consist mainly of family letters, diaries, and correspondence with Hans Weiss, a suitor, and Geraldine Thompson, a close friend who was active in social causes, especially prison reform, in New Jersey. There is also business correspondence, as well as exchanges between Van Waters and prisoners and ex-prisoners from the reformatory and elsewhere; there are many more such letters in the Van Waters papers in the Schlesinger Library (A-71).
There are alsot typescript and manuscript drafts of speeches given by Van Waters, at the reformatory or elsewhere, and notes and drafts of articles and other of her writings. Much of the material relating to the reformatory documents student activities, especially the plays staged by the students and directed by Van Waters. Like Gladding, Van Waters collected many printed materials, largely reflecting her interests; most pertain to prisons, penal reform, juvenile delinquency, and the death penalty. For additional information about her dismissal, hearing, and reinstatement, see the records of the Friends of Framingham Reformatory (B-18) in the Schlesinger Library. Most materials from her work on juvenile delinquency are at the Harvard Law School.
Series III, Photographs, #377-432. As it was impossible to determine whether Gladding or Van Waters owned any particular photograph, they have been left as one series. Most of the photographs depict scenes and activities at the reformatory, particularly students performing plays, including the Merrymakers Club (a club for African American students) in "A Hill of Beans," a play written for them by Van Waters. There are also photographs of Van Waters, her friends and family.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

African American prisoners--Massachusetts
Capital punishment--United States
Children of women prisoners--Massachusetts
Correctional institutions--Massachusetts
Correctional psychology
Corrections--Study and teaching
Massachusetts--Officials and employees
Prison administration--Massachusetts
Prison libraries--Massachusetts
Prison reformers--Massachusetts
Prison reformers--New Jersey
Prison theater--Massachusetts
Prisons--Officials and employees
Reformatories for women--Massachusetts
Social work with criminals--Massachusetts
Women--Social conditions
Women correctional personnel--Massachusetts
Women librarians--Massachusetts
Women prisoners--Massachusetts
Women prisoners--Sexual behavior
American League to Abolish Capital Punishment
American Youth Commission
Bode, Elizabeth
El Retiro School for Girls, Los Angeles
Friends of Framingham Reformatory
Hildebrandt, Sarah Ann Van Waters, 1922-1953
Hodder, Jessie Donaldson, 1870-1931
Mahan, Edna
Massachusetts Reformatory for Women (Sherborn, Mass.)
O'Keefe, Margaret
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Shontz, Orfa Jean
Thompson, Geraldine Morgan, 1871(?)-1967
Van Waters, Miriam, 1887-1974
Van Waters family
Weiss, Hans, -1936
Woods, Elizabeth L.