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SC 108

Williams, Carola Bell. Papers of Carola Bell Williams, 1908-1982: 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 108
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Carola Bell Williams
Title: Papers of Carola Bell Williams, 1908-1982
Date(s): 1908-1982
Quantity: .63 linear feet (1+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 volume, 2 folio+ folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, publicity, monologue scripts, photographs, etc., of Carola Bell Williams, actress and monolgue writer who took graduate courses at Radcliffe College.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: R88-12, R88-35
These papers were given to the Radcliffe College Archives in September 1988 by Carola Bell Williams.

Processing Information:

Processed: September 1989
By: Fay Kaufman

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Carola Bell Williams 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:

Carola Bell Williams Papers, 1908-1982; item description, dates. SC 108, folder #. Radcliffe College Archives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Carola Bell Williams, actress and monologue writer, was born in 1900 in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended local schools. After her father's death in 1913, her mother took her to Europe where she studied drama at a French boarding school in Munich. Her shock at seeing war preparations and troop movements was later expressed in the monologue "Good-Bye John".
Williams received her A.B. (1921) from Flora Mather College of Western Reserve University and did graduate work at Radcliffe (1921-1923), where she joined the 47 Workshop under the direction of George Pierce Baker, and studied playwriting, acting, costumes, and stage design.
Williams married Robert I. Williams, a patent attorney, and they had two sons, David and Hall. The family home was in Ossining, New York. David became a school principal and Hall, a physician. Williams's husband died in 1988.
Williams's theatrical career, writing, directing, and acting in her own monologues, began in the mid 1940's following a serious illness and a series of jaw operations. In an interview, Williams described how "my jaw was wired and twisted, the mobility of my mouth gone. I had given up all hopes of ever acting again. But when you feel that you cannot do a thing, you find that you can." Her monologues provided Williams with the means to express her political, artistic, and religious convictions. Williams researched her characters thoroughly, and was meticulous in all details of language and costume. She focused on a wide spectrum of women who were exceptional in character and accomplishments and broke barriers by their courage, persistence, and grace in living.
In 1949, Williams attended her first CFO (Camps Farthest Out) gathering, an interdenominational, interracial Christian movement with many camp conferences throughout the United States and Canada. This proved to be a personal and artistic turning point: her religious convictions present even in her early monologues, became more evident in her later work, culminating in 1951, with her monologue play, "The Supreme Court". Subsequently, almost all of Williams's artistic work centered on devotional subjects.

MONOLOGUES and PLAYS (1921-1984)


This collection consists of personal, biographical, and professional papers and photographs of Carola Bell Williams, largely relating to her career as a playwright and actress. There are research notes, drafts and final scripts of Williams's monologues, production lists for costumes, sets, lighting and cues, correspondence, publicity, photographs and flyers. The personal papers consist of twenty-five years of Christmas poems, childhood and other writings.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Religion in literature
Baker, George Pierce, 1866-1935
Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae