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MC 368

Gamble, Sarah Merry Bradley, 1898-1984. Papers of Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble, 1810-1984: 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 368
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble, 1898-1984
Title: Papers of Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble, 1810-1984
Date(s): 1810-1984
Quantity: 11.47 linear feet (27 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 16 folio folders, 9 folio+ folders, 3 oversize folders, 2 supersize folders, 4+1/2 linear feet of photographs, 30 lantern slides, 9 framed pictures, 4 audiotapes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, writings, and photographs, etc., of Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble, birth control activist; also includes family papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 84-M42, 84-M208
The papers of Sarah Merry (Bradley) Gamble were given to the Schlesinger Library in March and December 1984 by Gamble's five children, Sarah Epstein, Richard Gamble, Walter Gamble, Julia Kahrl, and Robert Gamble.

Processing Information:

Processed: July 1985
By: Martha Hodes

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble 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:

Sarah Merry Bradley Gamble Papers, 1810-1984; item description, dates. MC 368, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Sarah Merry (Bradley) Gamble was born on March 9, 1898, in Brookline, Massachusetts, one of five daughters of Amy (Aldis) Bradley and Richards Merry Bradley; a son died in childhood. Many of the Aldis family resided in St. Albans, Vermont, while the Bradleys originally settled in Westminster and later moved to Brattleboro.
Gamble grew up in Boston. During her childhood the family summered at Manchester-by-the-Sea on the North Shore, in York Harbor, Maine, with her mother's family, and in later years at the Bradley Home Place in Brattleboro. She was educated at the Winsor School, and later attended Radcliffe College and Simmons School of Social Work. Gamble served as a volunteer driver during World World I, and in 1917 helped found Green Mountain Camp, intended to provide rural Vermont girls with a healthy educational and recreational summer.
In 1924, Gamble married Clarence James Gamble (1894-1966) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pasadena, California, one of four children of Mary (Huggins) Gamble and David Berry Gamble and grandson of the co-founder of Procter & Gamble. Clarence James Gamble had graduated from Princeton in 1914 and from Harvard Medical School in 1920. Gamble and Clarence James Gamble had five children: Sarah Louise (Sally); Richard Bradley; Walter James; Mary Julia (Judy); and Robert David. The family lived near Philadelphia while Clarence James Gamble held a post in the University of Pennsylvania Department of Pharmacology. In 1937 they moved to Milton, Massachusetts; Clarence James Gamble taught at Harvard Medical School and was a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Clarence James Gamble's independent income allowed him to devote himself to the controversial field of birth control, and in 1929 he helped found a Maternal Health Clinic in Cincinnati. Such "maternal health associations," which provided contraceptive services, were eventually established in forty cities in fourteen states. In 1952, Clarence James Gamble and Gamble attended the Bombay International Birth Control Conference organized by Margaret Sanger. The Gambles made four around-the-world trips, working with doctors and social workers to set up family planning clinics in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, East and West Pakistan, India, Ceylon, the United Arab Republic, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Greece, Italy, Nigeria, France, Sweden, and England. They also sent field workers overseas to undertake birth control work in developing countries. After Clarence James Gamble's death, Gamble made a solo world tour.
The Pathfinder Fund was incorporated in 1957. As described in the 1978 annual report, it is a non-political, non-profit organization that "promotes and supports population and family planning activities in less developed countries." The organization has offices in Boston and in several foreign cities, and has conducted projects in more than eighty countries. The Gambles' five children (and some of their spouses) have been active in the organization. For more information about the Gambles' work in birth control, see Every Child a Wanted Child, by Doone and Greer Williams (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978).
Gamble and her family were also active in a number of community service organizations, including the Northfield League, Inc. (originally the Northfield Religious Conference for Girls), St. Michael's Sunday School, the Experiment in International Living, the Boston Center for Adult Education, and the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross; Gamble served on the boards of a number of these organizations. The Gamble family also housed British foster children during World War II and was active in the civil rights movement. Gamble was a prolific poet and wrote many children's stories with religious messages.


The collection is arranged in five series:


Through correspondence, writings, and photographs, this collection documents seven generations, from Gamble's great-great grandparents on her father's side to her seventeen grandchildren. There are also papers pertaining to her grandparents on her mother's side, and the parents and grandparents of Clarence James Gamble. In addition, the collection documents the work of Gamble and Clarence James Gamble in birth control and includes records of the Pathfinder Fund.
Photographs pertaining to each series are arranged chronologically at the end of the series. The photographs provide a fairly complete visual record of the Bradley and Gamble families and of the Gambles' birth control work. Originally there were approximately six cubic feet of photographs; the processor removed duplicates and most unrelated and repetitious images.
All folder titles, except those in quotation marks, were supplied by the processor.
Series I, Bradley family, documents four generations of Bradleys, from Gamble's great-great grandparents to her parents. The series consists largely of correspondence, including courtship letters from the 1820s, but also contains diaries, school notebooks, and memorabilia, as well as papers of the Women's Municipal League of Boston, of which Gamble's mother, Amy (Aldis) Bradley, was a founder. (For related material, see Elizabeth Lowell Putnam papers, MC 360.) The series, which is arranged by generation and birth order, also contains printed biographical and genealogical information about the Bradley and Aldis families. For additional Bradley family papers, see the Bradley family collection in the Schlesinger Library.
Series II, Sarah Bradley Gamble, is divided into nine sections: Biographical, Diaries, Education, Siblings, Correspondence, Writings, Travel, and Voluntary activities; the final section is an alphabetical file kept by Gamble in her later years. This includes correspondence, clippings, printed material, and the like; folders named for particular individuals usually contain letters from these individuals to Gamble. With the exception of the last section, which is arranged as it was found, each section in this series is arranged chronologically or by birth order.
Series III, Clarence James Gamble, begins with papers pertaining to Clarence James Gamble's parents. This includes papers about Mary Huggins Gamble's work in education for girls and public school kindergartens. Clarence James Gamble's youth, young adulthood, and professional life are documented in four sections: Boyhood, Diaries, Princeton, and Medical writings. Six notebooks Clarence James Gamble kept from 1908 until 1949 contain copies of letters, diary entries, and medical notes. Clarence James Gamble occasionally wrote in a code in which one letter of the alphabet stood for another; there is no key to this code in the collection or in the possession of the family.
The largest section in Series III is Correspondence. This spans the years from college through Clarence James Gamble's early professional life. Clarence James Gamble corresponded extensively with his parents, exchanging especially frequent and personal letters with his mother. He also corresponded with his brothers, and many friends. Clarence James Gamble typed and kept carbon copies of many of his letters.
Series IV, Sarah (Bradley) and Clarence James Gamble and children, begins with the engagement and wedding of Gamble and Clarence James Gamble and includes papers pertaining to their early travels, their children, and their grandchildren.
A major portion of this series is made up of "family letters." These span the years 1941-1967; almost all were written by Gamble and addressed to "Dear Family." They document the activities of Gamble, Clarence James Gamble, and their children and, from 1952 on, give detailed accounts of the Gambles' international birth control work. While abroad, Gamble sent these letters to the family's secretary, who typed and copied them and mailed them to a long list of recipients. There were apparently two lists, one of them an "inner circle." Some letters in this section are addressed to only one or two individuals and some were not written by Gamble. In later years several of her children distributed their own family letters, some of which are included here.
This series includes the Christmas cards, also containing news of family members, that Gamble designed and sent out to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances each year from 1925 until 1982, and papers pertaining to the Bradley family reunions organized by Gamble.
Series V, Birth control work, contains some information about Clarence James Gamble's early work in birth control as well as parts of what was a chronological file of the Pathfinder Fund. Related papers are in #264, 272, 274, 296, 354v, 363, 491-506, 550v, 552v, and 554v.
For more documentation of the Gambles' work in birth control, see the Clarence Gamble papers at the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School.

Key to initials:

AA = Arthur Aldis
AAB = Amy (Aldis) Bradley
ABS = Amy (Bradley) Suter
AOA = Asa Owen Aldis
ASG = Antonina Spisak-Gamble
BL = Bryan Lathrop
CHG = Cecil Huggins Gamble
CJG = Clarence James Gamble
DBG = David Berry Gamble
EB = Edith Bradley
EBD = Emily (Bradley) Dorr
EBW = Emily (Bradley) Wesselhoeft
HAL = Helen (Aldis) Lathrop
HAP = Harriet (Amory) Potter
HBR = Helen (Bradley) Rotch
JDB = Jonathan Dorr Bradley
JDB II = John Dorr Bradley
JGK = Julia "Judy" (Gamble) Kahrl
LCE = Lionel C. Epstein
LGG = Louise (Gibbs) Gamble
MA = Miranda Aldis
MBE = Mary (Bradley) Emery
MABK = Merab Ann (Bradley) Kellogg
MHG = Mary (Huggins) Gamble
MPB = Marie Pupin Burel
MTA = Mary (Taylor) Aldis
ND = Nathaniel Dorr
RB = Richards Bradley
RBG = Richard Bradley Gamble
RDCM = Robert D.C. Merry
RDG = Robert David Gamble
RMB = Richards Merry Bradley
RT = Russell Tyson
SBG = Sarah (Bradley) Gamble
SBG II = Susan (Bradley) Grinnell
SBT = Sarah (Bradley) Tyson
SCB = Susan Mina (Crossman) Bradley
SDG = Sidney David Gamble
SGE = Sarah "Sally" (Gamble) Epstein
SK = Stanley Kahrl
SRB III = Stephen Rowe Bradley III
SWMB = Sarah Williams (Merry) Bradley
WCB = William Czar Bradley
WCB II = William Czar Bradley II
WJG = Walter James Gamble
WWB = Walter Williams Bradley


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Birth control
Birth control clinics--Developing countries
Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Civil rights
Developing countries--Social conditions
Family records
International cooperation
Maternal health services
Medical education
Vermont--Social life and customs
Voyages around the world
Women in community organization
World War, 1914-1918--Women
World War, 1939-1945
Boston Center for Adult Education
Bradley family
Bradley, Richards Merry, 1861-1943
Brattleboro Mutual Aid Association
Breed, Lorena M.
Dummer family
Experiment in International Living
Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958
Fisher, Welthy Honsinger, 1879-1980
Gamble, Clarence James, 1894-1966
Gamble family
Gamble, Sarah Merry Bradley, 1898-1984
Green Mountain Camp for Girls
Huxley, Julian, 1887-1975
McKinnon, Edna Rankin, 1893-1978
Mudd, Emily Hartshorne
Mudd, Stuart, 1893-1975
Northfield League, Inc.
Pathfinder Fund
Princeton University
Procter & Gamble Company
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
Roots, Margaret F, 1895-1971
Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966
Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross
Special Aid Society for American Preparedness
Thomas Thompson Trust
Winsor School
Women's Municipal League of Boston
Women's Travel Club