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De Pillis, Freda M.. Papers of Freda M. De Pillis, 1936-1976: 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.: 89-M116--89-M176
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Title: Papers of Freda M. De Pillis, 1936-1976
Date(s): 1936-1976
Quantity: 1.25 linear feet (2 file boxes, 2 half file boxes) plus 1 folio folder)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Journals and letters of Freda M. De Pillis, social worker.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 89-M116, 89-M176
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Freda M. De Pillis in June and September 1989.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: July 1990
By: Aviva Dorfman

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. As of April 2018, journals dated after September 30, 1950 are no longer closed.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Freda M. De Pillis 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:

Freda M. De Pillis. Papers, 1936-1976; item description, dates. 89-M116--89-M176, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Freda Mae Rustemeyer was born and raised on a farm outside Linn, Missouri; her parents were Fred and Julia (Bogler) Rustemeyer, and she had three sisters: Dorothy, Marcella, and Mary Ellen. She worked in Japan with the occupation forces of the United States Army, as a clerk in the Adjutant General's office, 1947-1949.
Upon her return to the United States, she attended the University of Chicago, earning a Master of Social Work degree in 1954. While there, she met and married a fellow student, Mario S. De Pillis, who became a professor of history; they had three sons: Vincent, Mario, Jr., and Alexander. The family lived in Chicago, New Haven, Connecticut, and Berkeley, California, before settling in Amherst, Massachusetts. De Pillis pursued her profession of social work in all these places.


This collection consists almost entirely of writings - journals and letters - by Freda M. De Pillis. The journals begin in 1936, when she was eleven; she continues to add to them. Included Freda Mae (Rustemeyer) are both the original journals, 1936-1976, and typed transcripts for the same period. De Pillis has recorded her daily life, her observations, activities and concerns, and often her feelings. In the earliest journals she describes farm life, chores, the seasons, and school in rural Missouri. Later, at Chicago, she discusses her feelings as a woman of twenty-five beginning college alongside eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds; she describes her social life and her relationships with peers, teachers, employers, and family, and chronicles her failures and successes in various courses and the process of deciding what to study and choosing a career. In later years, De Pillis has continued to write of her work, family, and other experiences and describe her responses to them, her doubts, hopes, worries, and joys.
In her letters from Japan, De Pillis wrote to her family about her work with the occupation forces, describing her social life, her travels in Japan, and her impressions of the country. Miscellaneous papers from this period include occupation forces newsletters and clippings.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Adult education of women
Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Child rearing
Farm life--Missouri
Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952
Japan--Description and travel
Missouri--Social life and customs--20th century
Social workers
United States. Army--Clerical work
University of Chicago--Students