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Code, Marion Osborne Graves, 1896-1955. Papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code, 1953-1961 (inclusive), 1953-1955 (bulk): 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.: A-108
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Marion Osborne Graves Code, 1896-1955
Title: Papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code, 1953-1961 (inclusive), 1953-1955 (bulk)
Date(s): 1953-1961
Date(s): 1953-1955
Quantity: .63 linear feet (1 + 1/2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, travel journal, etc., of Marion Osborne Graves Code, Red Cross volunteer, writer, and critic.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 359, 81-M194
The papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code were given to the Schlesinger Library in October 1961 by her husband, Grant Code; the Special Collections department of Boston University Library gave additional papers in July 1981.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 1981
By: Gene Thompson

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Marion Osborne Graves Code 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.

Preferred Citation:

Marion Osborne Graves Code Papers, 1953-1961 (inclusive), 1953-1955 (bulk); item description, dates. A-108, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


Marion Osborne Graves Code was born in 1896 in Boston, Massachusetts, and for her first 20 years lived in Cambridge near Harvard University. Most of her friends were associated with Harvard or generally with the academic and artistic worlds. Code's mother was an accomplished singer and piano player; discouraged by her family from pursuing a career in "light" opera (her voice was not "big" enough for "grand" opera), she spent most of her life as an interior decorator, doing business mainly in New York, St. Louis and Paris. Code's father was an architect, ceramic engineer, and manufacturer of vases and tiles. In Code's youth, the family was quite wealthy, but lost most of its money through unfortunate investments; although luxuries and the arts were taken for granted, the family was usually in debt. Code was educated in Cambridge private schools: Buckingham School, the Cambridge School for Girls, and Radcliffe College. She graduated from Radcliffe cum laude in 1918.
Code's work as a Red Cross volunteer in Boston during World War I resulted in a life-long horror of war; for many years she worked with the War Resister's League in New York and Philadelphia.
After the war, Code married a Harvard classmate, Grant Code, a freelance writer, poet and critic who taught at Harvard for eight years and was an officer of several art institutions. Like the Graves family, the Codes were always in debt and devoted to the arts they could not afford.
Code's jobs, most of them editorial or secretarial, included work in General Hugh Johnson's office at the National Recovery Administration (NRA) during the early years of the Roosevelt administration. She also did some nightclub and stage work, and sang in choruses and choirs.
When the Code's one son was killed in a railroad accident at the age of 15, Code moved to Philadelphia; she and Grant Code, who remained in New York, corresponded and visited back and forth. Code attended the lectures of Swami Yatiswarananda, and helped edit his lectures. The Swami returned to India, and wrote Code asking her to help him write a book. Code had just received a small inheritance, and decided to go to India to search for the spiritual values she found lacking in the western world.


Marion Osborne Graves Code's journals and letters, dated from January 1953 through February 1955, describe the journey to India, her search for intellectual satisfaction and a peaceful life in the philosophy and customs of India, her initial enthusiasm and eventual dissatisfaction. On the basis of her travels in India and her active participation in social projects, she was able to record observations on social life and customs and descriptions of her companions.
Code died in India in February 1955, apparently in a drowning accident. The last letters in this collection are from Code's friends in India to Grant Code and speculate on the nature of the accident.
#1-7 were given to the Schlesinger Library by Grant Code in October 1961. They contain the original manuscript journal entries and letters written by Code in India between 1953 and 1955. #8-31 were given by Boston University Library (Special Collections) in July 1981, and contain the typescripts of the journals and letters, edited by Grant Code for possible publication.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

India--Description and travel
India--Social life and customs
Journals (notebooks)
Spiritual life--Hinduism
Voyages and travels
Code, Grant Hyde