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SC 97

Bonner, Marita, 1898-1971. Papers of Marita Bonner, 1940-1986: 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.: SC 97
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Marita Bonner, 1898-1971
Title: Papers of Marita Bonner, 1940-1986
Date(s): 1940-1986
Quantity: .21 linear feet (1/2 file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, essays, short fiction, photographs, etc., of Marita Bonner, Radcliffe College Class of 1922.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: R86-38
This collection was given to the Radcliffe College Archives by Joyce Occomy Stricklin, Marita Bonner Occomy's daughter, in October 1986.

Processing Information:

Processed: April 1987
By: Jane S. Knowles


Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Marita Bonner 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:

Marita Bonner Papers, 1940-1986; item description, dates. SC 97, folder #. Radcliffe College Archives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Marita Bonner, writer, musician, and teacher was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts June 16, 1898 to Joseph Andrew and Mary Anne (Noel) Bonner. She attended Brookline High School and then Radcliffe College where she concentrated in English and Comparative Literature. A gifted musician (referred to in the Radcliffe class poem as "1922's Beethoven"), she won college song competitions for the "Heathen Song" (1919) and "The China Lady" (1922). She belonged to the Music Club, Mandolin Club, and also to the German and prestigious English Club. Bonner was admitted to Charles T. Copeland's writing seminar, and one of her sketches "Dandelion Season" was selected to be read annually to the Radcliffe classes. She also contributed to the Harvard Review, the Boston Post, and The Sagamore while at high school. As a Radcliffe senior she taught at the Cambridge High School, and was graduated with an A.B. in 1922. After graduation she taught at the Bluefield Colored Institute, Bluefield, Virginia (1922-1924) and at Armstrong High School (1924-31). In 1930 she married William Almy Occomy, an accountant, and they moved to Chicago. They had three children (William Almy, Warwick Gale, and Marita Joyce.) Bonner died in Chicago on December 6, 1971.
Marita Bonner published plays, essays and short fiction in The Crisis and Opportunity. Among her literary experiments were one-act modernist plays "The Purple Flower" (1928) and "Exit, an Illusion" (1929). Two prize-winning essays were "On Being Young-A Woman-and Colored" (1925) and "Drab Rambles" (1927) She won the Wanamaker music prize for Negro Music in 1927, and continued to publish short fiction until 1941. During 1944-1945 and 1950-1963, Bonner taught handicapped children in Chicago schools.


This collection includes biographical data, family photographs, correspondence, unpublished fiction, copies of published essays, short fiction, drama, and reviews; also included are writings about Marita Bonner.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

African Americans
Flynn, Joyce
McKay, Nellie
Radcliffe College. Class of 1922