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MC 505

Rich, Cynthia. Papers of Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald, 1893-2004: A Finding Aid

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

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 505
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Cynthia Rich
Title: Papers of Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald, 1893-2004
Date(s): 1893-2004
Quantity: 6.05 linear feet (14 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 5 folio+ folders, 18 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 3 slides)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, writings, etc., of Barbara Macdonald, social worker, lesbian feminist activist, author, and Cynthia Rich, teacher, lesbian feminist activist, and author.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2002-M31, 2002-M68, 2003-M17, 2005-M16
These papers of Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald were given to the Schlesinger Library by Cynthia Rich in February and May 2002, in February 2003, and in March 2005.

Processing Information:

Processed: May 2005
By: Deborah A. Richards

TERMS OF USE:

Access. Unrestricted, except for #5.16, which is closed to research until January 1, 2020, #8.11, which is closed until January 1, 2066, and box 13, which is closed to research until January 1, 2027.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers of Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, with the following exceptions: 1) Macdonald's handwritten autobiography; 2) typed manuscript by Macdonald and Rich of "Beyond My Mother's House;" 3) typed manuscript by Macdonald and Rich of "This Driving Force in Me: The Lesbian Lives of Barbara Macdonald and Cynthia Rich;" 4) all correspondence between Macdonald and Rich (originals and transcriptions); and 5) photographs of Macdonald and Rich. Copyright in these papers will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College upon Rich's death (unless they have been published or the copyright transferred to President and Fellows of Harvard College before that date). Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the director of the Schlesinger Library before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.
Copying. Unrestricted for personal use. Copies for deposit for research use in a library may not be made until January 1, 2007. Reproductions may not be disseminated on the internet until January 1, 2007.

Preferred Citation:

Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald Papers, 1893-2004; item description, dates. MC 505, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Cynthia Rich, 1961-1968 (83-M240), Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald Audiotape collection, 1973-1990 (T-338), Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999 (84-M141--99-M136), and Helen Jones Rich Papers, ca.1888-2000 (MC 803).

BIOGRAPHY

Barbara Anne (Charles) Macdonald, social worker, lesbian feminist activist, and author, was born on September 11, 1913, to Emily Lister (Baker) Charles and Fred Henly Charles in Pomona, California. She grew up around the La Habra, California, area. At the age of fifteen, she left home permanently and began supporting herself as a domestic worker in Long Beach, California. In 1930 Macdonald married Elmo Davis; the marriage lasted five years. She attended Long Beach Junior College (1931-1932), Santa Ana Junior College (1932-1937) where she was almost expelled as a lesbian, and the University of California, Berkeley (1938-1940). She paid for her education by working as a stunt parachute jumper about which she was the subject of numerous articles in The Santa Ana Register, which called her "intrepid and daring." Macdonald married John Macdonald in 1941; the marriage was very brief.
After leaving the University of California, Berkeley, Macdonald worked at WPA Vallejo (Calif.) Housing Authority. From 1950 to 1953 she attended the University of Washington where she received a B.A. and an M.S.W. Upon graduation she moved to Wenatchee, Washington, and worked as a supervisor for Child Welfare Services. In 1957 she moved to Morgantown, West Virginia, and commuted to the University of Pennsylvania where she worked on a 3rd year certificate in psychiatric social work. Subsequently she worked as a clinical social worker in pediatrics at the University of Maryland and taught at the medical school. She lived in Baltimore from 1964 to 1967 and worked as a school social worker in the Baltimore public schools. During this time, she took up sailing and bought the sailboat "Mighty Mouse." In 1967 she moved to Connecticut where she worked as a consultant for the Bureau of Pupil Personnel and Special Education for the state of Connecticut. Macdonald and her companion Ethel Weeden, also a social worker, took a year's leave to travel the country in a Volkswagen bus. They followed that with a trip via freighter to Asia.
Macdonald retired in 1974 as a social worker. That same year, while living in Connecticut, she took a feminist writing workshop at Goddard-Cambridge Graduate School in Cambridge, Mass. The workshop was taught by Cynthia Rich, who later became Macdonald's domestic partner of 26 years. Over the next twenty-five years, Macdonald's work appeared frequently in lesbian and feminist publications such as Equal Times, Lesbian Ethics, Ms., New Directions, New Women's Times, Sinister Wisdom, and Sojourner. She received national recognition for her writings. In 1980, she covered the UN Mid-Decade Conference on Women in Copenhagen for Equal Times. In 1983, along with Rich, Macdonald co-authored Look Me in the Eye: Old Women, Aging and Ageism. The book, which appeared in two expanded editions (1991, 2001), combined her personal experiences of ageism with ground-breaking lesbian feminist theory, and was named by Ms. as one of 35 classics of the second wave of feminism. It also was widely anthologized for women's studies courses and was translated into Japanese in 1995. Macdonald was a frequent speaker at lesbian and feminist organizations, universities, and organizations of social workers nationally and internationally, including the UN Conference on Women at Huairou, China, in 1995. She was the keynote speaker at the National Lesbian Conference in Atlanta in 1991 and gave a plenary address at the National Women's Studies Conference in 1985. Her work was the inspiration for the First West Coast Conference of Old Lesbians in 1987. She served on its planning committee and gave the keynote address. Out of the conference came the creation of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, a national organization seeking to end the ageism experienced by old women. Macdonald died June 15, 2000, of Alzheimer's disease.
Cynthia Rich, teacher, lesbian feminist activist, and author, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 12, 1933, the daughter of Helen (Jones) and Arnold Rice Rich. Her sister was Adrienne Rich. In 1952 she graduated from the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, and then received her A.B. in English summa cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1956. During her junior year, she made Phi Beta Kappa, and in 1956 won first prize in the Mademoiselle fiction contest for her story, "My Sister's Marriage." She also received the Augustus Anson Whitney Fellowship from Harvard University (1957-1958). Rich received her A.M. in English (1958), and completed residence requirements and oral examinations for a Ph.D. in English from Harvard in 1960. Rich married Roy Glauber, a member of the physics department at Harvard in 1960. They had two children: Jeffrey (1963- ) and Valerie (1970- ). The couple separated in 1971; they divorced in 1975.
Rich taught expository writing, fiction, and poetry writing at Wellesley College (1962-1963), Cooper Community College (1965-1969), and Harvard University (1958-1961, 1969-1981) . She held the Briggs Copeland Lecturership in English and General Education at Harvard (1969-1970). In 1974 she taught a feminist writing workshop at Goddard Cambridge College, where she met Barbara Macdonald, who later became her domestic partner of 26 years. Rich helped establish the Harvard Writing Center in 1978 in which she remained involved for two years. In 1980, she covered the UN Mid-Decade Conference on Women in Copenhagen for Equal Times. From 1980 until 1981 she directed independent studies in writing for M.A. candidates at Goddard and consulted for the New York City Office of Educational Evaluation before joining Digital Equipment Company in Nashua, N.H., as a software editor. In 1983 Rich co-authored with Macdonald Look Me in the Eye: Old Women, Aging and Ageism, a ground-breaking examination of ageism from a feminist perspective. In 1989 she wrote Desert Years: Undreaming the American Dream, an eco-feminist account of living for six years in a trailer at Agua Caliente County Park on the Anza Borrego Desert. Desert Years was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 1990. From 1992 to 1994 Rich taught ESL at Mira Mesa Continuing Education. She wrote regularly for feminist publications such as Equal Times, New Women's Times, Sinister Wisdom, and Sojourner, and was a frequent contributing editor in the lesbian and feminist press.
Rich was a lifelong progressive political activist. She worked with Voice of Women--New England, (1961-1965); San Diego United Farm Workers Grape Boycott Committee (1982-1989); "Myth" California (1986-1992); Desert Waves affinity group at the Nevada Test Site and in San Diego (1987-1993); Women's Alliance for Peace in the Middle East (1988-1991); Martin Luther King Tribute Coalition (1989-1996); Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers (1989-1999); and Old Women's Project (founded in 2001 with Mannie Garza and Janice Keaffaber).

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in four series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The collection contains biographical and genealogical material, correspondence, notes, unpublished talks, writings, diaries, programs, scrapbooks, and photographs of Barbara Macdonald and Cynthia Rich. Folder headings were created by Macdonald or Rich; the archivist's headings are in square brackets. Audiovisual material received with the collection was removed and cataloged separately as the Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald Audiotape collection, 1973-1990 (T-338).
Series I, Barbara Macdonald (#1.1-4.11, FD.1, F+D.1, PD.1-PD.5), contains geneaological material including her mother's teaching certificates and report cards; biographical material; address books; correspondence with family, friends, writers, and activists; photographs of family, friends, and Macdonald; college writings; writing and reading notes; unpublished talks and writings; the manuscript of "Beyond My Mother's House"; reviews; conference materials including fliers, programs, and a t-shirt from the West Coast Old Lesbian Conference in 1987.
Series II, Cynthia Rich (#4.12-9.17, F+D.2-5, PD.6-9, PD.1f), contains biographical material; childhood letters; diaries (which Rich called journals); college writings; teaching materials including syllabi, evaluations, exercises; writing and reading notes; correspondence with family, friends, writers, activists, and students; student writings; permissions to publish requests, press releases, notes, play adaption materials, programs, and correspondence related to Rich's "My Sister's Marriage"; reviews; unpublished writings and poems; manuscript for a work of fiction; and correspondence, minutes, fliers, direct action handbooks, programs, notes, clippings, and photographs related to Rich's political activism. Folder #5.16 is CLOSED UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2020. Folder #8.11 is CLOSED UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2066. There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see 83-M240.
Series III, Barbara Macdonald and Cynthia Rich (#10.1-12.6, Box 13, PD.10-17), contains the manuscript "This Driving Force in Me: the Lesbian Lives of Barbara Macdonald and Cynthia Rich;" transcripts and originals of letters between Macdonald and Rich from 1975 to 1989; correspondence with friends, writers, and activists; a scrapbook of Macdonald's life compiled by Rich; a scrapbook of their 1995 trip to the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing; reviews and clippings regarding Look Me in the Eye ; fan mail; a photograph album including notes and their astrological charts; and photographs of the first West Coast Old Lesbian Conference. Box 13 is CLOSED UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2027.
Series IV, Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers (SCMW) (#12.7-16), may be the only existing collection in the United States. It contains board minutes, correspondence, leaflets, press releases, grant proposals, clippings, and fact sheets related to SCMW's activities and operation.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donor: Cynthia Rich
Accession numbers: 2002-M31, 2002-M68, 2003-M17
Processed by: Deborah A. Richards
The following items have been removed from the collection:

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Anza Borrego Desert (Calif.)--Social life and customs
Authors as teachers
Autobiography
Barnes, Alice, 1907-
Civil disobedience
Civil rights--California
Diaries
English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers
Feminists--United States
Jewish women--United States
Lesbians--United States
Lesbian authors--United States
Offshore assembly industry--Employees
Peace movements
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Teachers
Women authors
Women offshore assembly industry workers
Women political activists--United States
Women's rights
Ageism
Aviad, Michal
Bunch, Charlotte, 1944-
Charles, Emily Lister Baker
Citizens for Media Responsibility Without Law
Clausen, Jan, 1950-
Copper, Baba
Craft, Nikki
Cruikshank, Margaret
Deming, Barbara, 1917-1984
Desert Wave Affinity Group
Healey, Shevy
Henly, Carolyn Powell
Holley, Kay
Hong, Grace
Hughes, Donna M.
Kahn, Karen, 1955-
Kaye/Kantrowitz, Melanie
Kubie, Lawrence S. (Lawrence Schlesinger), 1896-1973
Leake, Dorothy Van Dyke, 1893-1990
Macdonald, Barbara, 1913-2000
MacPike, Loralee
Martin Luther King Tribute Coalition
McNaron, Toni A. H.
Media Watch (Organization)
Meigs, Mary, 1917-2002
Mikels, Elaine
Morgan, Robin, 1941-
Myth California (Organization)
Nestle, Joan, 1940-
NGO Forum on Women, Beijing '95
Old Lesbians Organizing for Change
Old Women's Project
Older lesbians
Persephone Press
Pinkston, Barbara
Radcliffe College--Students
Randall, Margaret, 1936-
Redman, Helen
Rich, Adrienne Cecile
Sarton, May, 1912-1995
Shore, Rima
Simonton, Ann
Smith, Barbara, 1946-
Spinsters Ink (Firm : Duluth, Minn.)
Stokes, Ann
Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers (San Diego, Calif.)
Tong, Mary
United Farm Workers
Voice of Women--New England
Women's Alliance
West Coast Old Lesbian Conference

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