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MC 333

Lord, Mary Pillsbury, 1904- . Papers, 1927-1972: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe College
December 1981

© 1981 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 333
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Mary (Pillsbury) Lord, 1904-1978
Title: Papers, 1927-1972
Quantity: 4 file boxes
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, articles, etc., of Mary Pillsbury Lord, civic worker.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1981
By: Nadine Parker

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 55-49, 55-88, 57-92, 183, 74-249, 74-221, 74-285, 76-97, 76-114, 81-M213
The papers of Mary (Pillsbury) Lord were given to the Schlesinger Library between 1955 and April 1976 by MPL, and in September 1981 by her husband, Oswald Bates Lord.

Preferred citation for publication:

Mary Pillsbury Lord Papers, 1927-1972; item description, dates. MC 333, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


Mary Pillsbury Lord was born on November 14, 1904, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Charles Stinson and Nelle Pendleton (Winston) Pillsbury and a descendant of the founder of the Pillsbury Flour Mills Co. She attended St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Maryland, before enrolling in Smith College, where she majored in French and was graduated cum laude in 1927. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and later received honorary degrees from twelve institutions. She married Oswald Bates Lord, a textile manufacturer, on December 7, 1929; they had two sons, Charles Pillsbury and Winston.
MPL began her career as a volunteer social worker in Minneapolis; after her marriage, she became a volunteer case worker in New York. She was a director of the East Side Settlement House, 1939-1943, and president of the Junior League of New York, 1936-1938. In 1940, MPL became chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Women's Participation in the World's Fair. During World War II, she served as Assistant Regional Director of the Office of Civilian Defense and in 1944 was appointed chairman of the National Civilian Advisory Committee of the Women's Army Corps, which enabled her to tour army installations in the United States, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. During one of these tours she met General Dwight D. Eisenhower, for whom she campaigned as co-chairman of Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon in the 1952 Presidential campaign.
MPL also organized and chaired the U.S. Committee for UNICEF beginning in 1947. In 1953, she was appointed by President Eisenhower to succeed Eleanor Roosevelt as the U.S. representative to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. She served as an alternate U.S. representative to the General Assembly, 1953-1959, and was appointed a U.S. representative in 1960. In connection with her work for the U.N., MPL travelled at her own expense to almost all the countries of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. During this time she also wrote numerous articles and delivered speeches both in the United States and abroad to advocate the work of the U.N. and the Human Rights Commission.
After her resignation from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in 1961, MPL continued to travel abroad, entertain foreigners visiting the U.S., and organize volunteers. Most notably she chaired the (New York) Governor's Committee on the Education and Employment of Women and worked with the Citizens for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam Committee. She was also president of the International Rescue Committee and a governor of the Atlantic Institute. She died at home on July 21, 1978.


The Mary Pillsbury Lord collection has been divided into five series, each arranged chronologically. There are some papers from MPL's early life but most of the collection covers the period 1938-1970.
Series I, Biographical, contains biographical information, including awards, correspondence, and articles about MPL, photographs and family material. A transcript of an interview MPL taped for the Smith (College) Centennial Study explores the development of her ideas and provides an illuminating discussion of her activities in the 1960s.
Series II, Family correspondence, consists of letters and itineraries from MPL to her husband, sons, and mother during her trips to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Although most of the trips were prompted by her involvement with the U.N. and various organizations, her letters generally say little about her official duties and concentrate instead on describing in detail the places she visited, the people she met, and conversations with various prominent friends whom she met or with whom she travelled. Some letters do discuss public events, most notably a 40-page one from Ethiopia (December 1960, see #20), describing an attempted revolution that occurred during her stay.
Series III, Organizations, mainly 1940s, contains correspondence, speeches, reports, and clippings mostly derived from MPL's work for the N.Y. World's Fair, the Office of Civilian Defense, the National Advisory Committee for the Women's Army Corps, and the Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon Committee. Correspondence between MPL and various high-ranking military officers (see #29) deals with the role of the WACS and the establishment of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. To facilitate the recruitment of women for the WACS, a female ROTC program was proposed. A detailed report of this program and its method of implementation is in #29. The correspondence between MPL and prominent Republicans during the early 1950s, particularly the letters from Walter Williams, discusses in great detail the strategy of the 1952 Eisenhower presidential campaign. The speeches in this series are those given by MPL in support of the World's Fair, the Office of Civilian Defense, and the Republican party.
Series IV, United Nations, contains correspondence, speeches, statements, articles, and clippings. The correspondence consists mainly of requests from magazines, news agencies, and social action organizations for speeches or statements concerning human rights and other international issues with which the U.N. was concerned. The speeches, a few addressed to the General Assembly but most to meetings of social action organizations and college commencements, deal mainly with the promotion of world understanding and peace, and the U.N.'s role in accomplishing this goal; however some discuss contemporary international issues: the 1956 war between Egypt and Israel, the Hungarian refugees, and the world hunger problem. Information on the establishment of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, in which MPL was a key figure, is in #39.
Series V, Organizations, etc., mainly 1960s, contains correspondence, speeches, reports, and clippings. Two volumes, "New York Women and Their Changing World," and "Message to the Legislature" (by Nelson Rockefeller), include the recommendations of a report published by the N.Y. Committee for the Education and Employment of Women while MPL was the chairman; there is also correspondence praising the report. Other correspondence includes requests for interviews and speaking engagements and invitations for MPL and OBL to attend President Johnson's inauguration. #47-48 contain material on MPL's tour of East Asia for the State Department, during which she met with various groups to discuss such topics as Organizing Volunteers for Public Service, New Ways to Utilize Women's Skills and Strengths, and Encouraging Civic Responsibility through Welfare Service. #50 includes reports from her trip to Vietnam in August 1969 for the Committee for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam and related papers. MPL was vice-chairman of this committee.




Additional catalog entries

Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon Committee
Committee for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam
Cooper, John Sherman, 1901-
Eisenhower, Dwight David, 1890-1969
Forrestal, James, 1892-1949
Hoffman, Anna (Rosenberg), 1902-
Hoffman, Paul Gray, 1891-1974
Langlie, Arthur Bernard, 1900-1966
Lodge, Henry Cabot, Jr., 1902-
Lovett, Robert Abercrombie, 1902-
New York (State) Governor's Committee on the Education and Employment of Women
New York World's Fair, Inc.
Oettinger, Katherine (Brownell), 1903-
Paul, Willard Stewart, 1894-1966
Robbins, Mildred, 1922-
Rockefeller, Nelson Aldrich, 1908-1979
Stassen, Harold Edward, 1907-
Summerfield, Arthur Ellsworth, 1899-1972
United States Committee for UNICEF
Vandenberg, Arthur Hendrick, Jr., 1884-1951
Adams, Sherman, 1899-
Africa-Description and travel
Asia-Description and travel
Civil rights
Education of women
Europe-Description and travel
Politics, Practical
Public relations-Social service
Republican Party
Smith College
United Nations
U.N. Human Rights Commission
United States. Civilian Advisory Committee for the Women's Army Corps
Vietnamese conflict
Volunteer workers in social service
Women in military service
Women-Rights of women