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MC 671; T-384

Chambers, Marjorie, 1923-2006. Papers of Marjorie Chambers, 1943-2005 (inclusive), 1953-1995 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957 and the estate of Marjorie Bell Chambers.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 671; T-384
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Marjorie Chambers, 1923-2006
Title: Papers of Marjorie Chambers, 1943-2005 (inclusive), 1953-1995 (bulk)
Date(s): 1943-2005
Date(s): 1953-1995
Quantity: 27.93 linear feet (67 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 3 oversize folders, 8 photograph folders, 1 audiotape)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, meeting minutes, conference programs, clippings, and campaign materials of Marjorie Bell Chambers, teacher, civic leader, and official in government and nonprofit organizations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2009-M178, 2009-M243, 2010-M206
The papers of Marjorie Bell Chambers were given to the Schlesinger Library by her widower, William Chambers, and daughter, Lee Chambers in 2009 and 2010.

Processing Information:

Processed: April 2011
By: Susan Earle, with assistance from Su Ciampa.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted, except that #46.9-46.11 and 59.16 are closed until January 1, 2040 and #49.3 is closed until January 1, 2036. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Marjorie Bell Chambers 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:

Marjorie Chambers Papers, 1943-2005; item description, dates. MC 671, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donors: William and Lee Chambers
Accession numbers: 2009-M178, 2009-M243, 2010-M206
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Department; consult the library's catalog for holdings:
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Division:
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the archives of Colby-Sawyer College:
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the archives of the University of Denver:
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the archives of the University of New Mexico:

BIOGRAPHY

Teacher, civic leader, and official in government and nonprofit organizations, Marjorie Bell Chambers was born in New York City on March 11, 1923, the daughter of Kenneth and Katherine (Totman) Bell. Her paternal grandfather, Wilberforce Lee, was a missionary in Angola and her father was raised by an adoptive family in Canada; he became a senior vice-president of Chase Manhattan Bank. Chambers contracted tuberculosis in her childhood and suffered from trouble with her lungs for the remainder of her life. She received her B.A. in history and political science from Mount Holyoke College in 1943, and in 1945 married physicist William H. Chambers, who had served with George Patton's Third Army in Europe during World War II. They both pursued graduate studies at Cornell University, with Chambers receiving her M.A. in 1948. William earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State University, and in 1950, with their children Lee and William, they moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where her husband William worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Two more children, Leslie and Kenneth, were born in Los Alamos and Chambers focused on raising the family and volunteering with various organizations, including the Girl Scouts and the American Association of University Women. She was a founding member of the Los Alamos Branch of the American Association of University Women, and served as president of that branch, and of the New Mexico Division before serving as national president from 1975 to 1979. In 1964, she began working as a substitute teacher in Los Alamos public schools, and in 1965 was hired as project historian at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Los Alamos. This work prompted her to continue her graduate studies and she received her PhD from the University of New Mexico in 1974; she was an adjunct faculty member of the university from 1970 to 1976, returning for the 1984-1985 academic year. She had a long career in higher education, joining the faculty of the Union Institute Graduate School in 1979 and serving as dean of the Midwest region from 1979 to 1982; she retired from the Institute in 2003.
While William Chambers continued to work in New Mexico, after their children were grown, Marjorie's professional activities required her to travel considerably and to settle temporarily in other states. In 1976, she was appointed president of Colorado Women's College, and served until 1978; the first woman president of the college, she launched an intensive 10-day campaign to save it from economic collapse. This campaign was successful, though the college ultimately closed. In 1985, Chambers became interim president of Colby-Sawyer College; the first woman to lead that institution, she also instituted the college's first strategic plan. She also served as chair of the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Board on Education and Training from 1987 to 1989, and as a vice-chair and commissioner of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. In 1976, she co-founded Bell-Chambers Associates, a consulting firm which specialized in government, education, science, and technology.
Chambers was a lifelong advocate for women's rights and was a national spokesperson for the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. President Ford appointed her to the National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs in 1976 and she remained on the Council until 1980, serving as chair from 1978 to 1979. In 1978, President Carter appointed her to the President's Advisory Committee for Women, and she became acting chair after Bella Abzug was fired from the committee in 1979. She was also very involved in both national and local politics, and in 1982 became the first Republican woman to run (unsuccessfully) for Congress from New Mexico; she followed this with an unsuccessful run for Lieutenant Governor in 1986. She was elected to the Los Alamos County Council in 1975, serving as its chair--and instituting use of the word "councilor" rather than "council man"--in 1976; she also served as chair of the Los Alamos County Personnel Board from 1984 to 1990. She died on August 22, 2006, after a long illness.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in seven series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

This collection documents Marjorie Bell Chambers' educational work, her involvement with the American Association of University Women and other women's organizations, her involvement with the Republican Party (including her campaigns for elected office), and her civic and community work. Very little personal material is included. The collection includes clippings, press releases, speech notes, correspondence, meeting minutes, conference programs, campaign contributions, drawings, and an audiotape. The processor created most folder titles; headings created by Chambers appear in quotation marks. National, branch, and division newsletters of the American Association of University Women were transferred to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Department, as were newsletters of the International Federation of University Women, the Sangre de Cristo Girl Scout Council, and the National and New Mexico Federations of Republican Women. For a list of titles, see the separation record at the end of this finding aid.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1943-2004 (#1.1-3.1, F+D.1, PD.1-PD. 2), includes articles about Chambers, detailed résumés and autobiographical sketches, appointment and address books, awards and honors, school papers, financial records, and photographs. Of particular note are Chambers' reflections on reaching the age of 66 (#1.11) and her pastel and charcoal drawings (#2.16). The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, SPEECHES AND WRITINGS, 1946-2005 (#3.2-21.27), consists primarily of notes for speeches Chambers gave to a variety of audiences, such as the Los Alamos Kiwanis, the Coalition for Abortion Rights, and the World Conference of Women Leaders in Jerusalem. Also included are letters to the editor, articles, and book reviews by Chambers (#8.2) and a newsletter written by her (#4.8). The bulk of the speeches concern politics and the role of women in U.S. society; topics include "Women's Equity: What We Have and What We Still Need," "Things Neither Your Mother Nor Your Father Ever Taught You--Their Daughter--About Politics," and "Women Acquiring Political Power." A number of these speeches were given at national or regional American Association of University Women conventions. There is considerable overlap with the other series. For additional American Association of University Women speeches and related material, see Series V; for additional speeches given on behalf of Colorado Women's College, see Series IV; and for additional speeches re: Chambers' political campaigns and her work with the Girl Scouts, see Series VII. The series is arranged with several folders of untitled speeches appearing first, followed by a chronological arrangement.
Series III, CORRESPONDENCE, 1945-2004 (#22.1-26.1, PD.3), consists largely of what Chambers termed "miscellaneous correspondence"; these folders contain correspondence on a variety of topics, including speaking engagements, Chambers' political campaigns, and her various professional activities. Included are letters related to Chambers' work with the League of Nations in the 1940s (#22.1). The bulk of the correspondence is professional, but some letters from friends are also included, as well as Lee Chambers (#25.9). In addition to the "miscellaneous" correspondence, the series includes some folders of correspondence on specific topics, such as Chambers' work for the Atomic Energy Commission, or with particular organizations, such as the Scarsdale Alumni Association and the White House. The series is arranged chronologically, and additional professional material can be found in Series II, IV, V, VI, and VII.
Series IV, EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1955-2004 (#26.2-36.5, OD.3, T-384.1), primarily documents Chambers' involvement with Colorado Women's College and Union Institute. The Colorado Women's College material includes clippings, minutes, correspondence (including letters congratulating Chambers on her appointment as president and expressing regret at her decision to resign), speeches and writings, press releases, financial statements, and an audiotape of Chambers' inauguration. Much of the material relates to the college's efforts to find sufficient funding and remain open. The Union Institute material consists of articles by and about Chambers; correspondence, including Chambers' tenure as dean of the graduate school's Midwest region (#33.1-33.3); colloquia and seminar registration lists, schedules, and planning materials; meeting minutes; and a 1990 tour and seminar led by Chambers in China. The series also includes correspondence and a teaching file, including course evaluations (#36.3) from Chambers' work at the University of New Mexico; and correspondence, meeting minutes, speeches, and reports re: her work with the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Board on Education and Training, the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education, Colby-Sawyer College, and other institutions or organizations. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series V, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN, 1950-2004 (#36.6-51.5, PD.4-PD.5), contains articles by and about Chambers; correspondence; press releases; minutes; yearbooks; newsletters; conference programs; and speeches, as well as notes, drafts, and correspondence re: Chambers' history of the American Association of University Women. Notable correspondents include Elizabeth Holtzman, Patricia Schroeder, Edmund Muskie, and Jimmy Carter. Chambers served as national president from 1975 to 1979, and prior to that held a variety of regional and national positions, serving as the second president of the Los Alamos Branch, and as president of the New Mexico Division. #48.8-48.10 document Chambers' first years of involvement with the organization, and #36.6-36.8 contain meeting minutes, etc. for the American Association of University Women-International Federation of University Women liaison committee. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series VI, WORK FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS, 1952-2004 (#51.6-57.8), includes correspondence re: the Equal Rights Amendment, with letters from a number of senators (among them George McGovern and John Glenn) concerning their views on the amendment's ratification (#51.12). The series also contains correspondence, minutes, reports, testimony, press releases, and clippings from Chambers' work with the National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs and the President's Advisory Committee for Women. (Clippings reporting Bella Abzug's dismissal from the President's Advisory Committee are included.) Correspondence, conference buttons, and an article and report by Chambers re: the 1980 World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women, which she attended as a U.S. delegate, are located here, as are correspondence and conference programs documenting her interest in women's rights and her involvement with a variety of women's organizations, ranging from the Daughters of the American Revolution to the International Federation of University Women. (See also series V, #36.6-36.8 and #45.1 for material re: the relationship of the International Federation of University Women and the American Association of University Women.) The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series VII, POLITICAL AND COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES, 1950-2004 (#57.9-67.8, OD.1-OD.3, PD.6-PD.8), includes clippings, correspondence, speeches, campaign contributions, issues statements, and publicity for Chambers' congressional and lieutenant governor campaigns. The clippings document the particular challenges she faced as a woman running for political office in the 1980s, as well as a threat made on her life during the campaign. Also included are minutes, press releases, and correspondence from Chambers' tenure on the Los Alamos County Council, as well as testimony she gave on behalf of the council to the Senate Finance Committee and to a hearing convened by Senator Pete Domenici; and correspondence, clippings, minutes and annual reports for her work with the Los Alamos County Council. In addition, the series includes correspondence with a variety of prominent Republican politicians, such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, and John Sununu. Chambers' attempts to obtain a position within the Reagan administration, her work with the Bush/Quayle administration, and her involvement with local and national organizations of Republican women are documented here, as is her work with various civic organizations. The series includes minutes, clippings, correspondence, newsletters, by-laws from her presidency of the Los Alamos Historical Society and her involvement with history conferences convened by the Historical Society, Union Institute, and the University of New Mexico; and her work with the Girl Scouts and with the Los Alamos Garden Club (Chambers won several ribbons for her roses and flower arrangements and her daughters also competed, with Lee winning a rarely-awarded prize in the 1959 junior division). She also drew illustrations for the United Church of Los Alamos' programs and directories, which are included here. The series is arranged alphabetically.
A selection of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Audiotapes
Civic leaders--United States
College presidents--United States
College teachers--United States
Equal rights amendments--United States
Feminists--United States
International Women's Decade, 1976-1985
International Women's Year, 1975
New Mexico--Politics and government--1951-
Speeches
White House Conference on Children and Youth (1960 : Washington, D.C.)
White House Conference on Children (1970 : Washington, D.C.)
White House Conference on Education (1955 : Washington, D.C.)
Women--Political activity--United States
Women in public life--United States
Women's rights--United States
World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development, and Peace (1980 : Copenhagen, Denmark)
American Association of University Women
Abourezk, James
Anderson, Clinton Presba, 1895-1975
Baker, Howard H. (Howard Henry), 1925-2014
Bayh, Birch, 1928-
Brock, William Emerson, 1930-
Brooke, Edward W. (Edward William), 1919-2015
Brown, Muriel Buck Humphrey
Burroughs, John
Bush, George, 1924-
Carruthers, Garrey E. (Garrey Edward), 1939-
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Chavez, Dennis, 1888-1962
Colby-Sawyer College
Colorado Women's College
DeConcini, Dennis
Dempsey, John J., 1879-1958
Domenici, Pete
Drinan, Robert F.
Edwards, Edwin W.
Fernandez, Antonio M.
Garman, Teresa
Girl Scouts of the United States of America
Glenn, John, 1921-
Gramm, Phil
Griffin, Robert P. (Robert Paul), 1923-2015
Heckler, Margaret
Holtzman, Elizabeth
Ingersoll, Robert S.
International Federation of University Women
Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel), 1904-1986
Kemp, Jack
Kennedy, John F. Jr., 1960-1999
League of Nations
League of Women Voters (U.S.)
Linard, Sharlyn
Los Alamos Historical Society
Lujan, Manuel, 1928-
Maguire, G. Andrew (Gene Andrew)
Mathias, Charles McC. (Charles McCurdy), 1922-2010
McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922-2012
Mercer, Joseph H.
Moore, Arch A.
Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-1996
National Woman's Party
National Women's Political Caucus (U.S.)
Nelson, Gaylord, 1916-2005
Nickles, Don
Percy, Charles H., 1919-2011
Proxmire, William
Quayle, Dan, 1947-
Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895-1989
Reagan, Maureen, 1941-2001
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
Ribicoff, Abraham, 1910-1998
Robb, Lynda Bird, 1944-
Richardson, Bill, 1947-
Rumsfeld, Donald, 1932-
Sasser, James R.
Schmitt, Harrison H.
Schroeder, Patricia R., 1951-
Stevens, Ted
Stone, Richard, 1928-
Sununu, John H.
Union Institute (U.S.)
United States. National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs
United States. President's Advisory Committee for Women
University of New Mexico
Vance, Cyrus R. (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002
Weddington, Sarah Ragle
Wiley, Alexander, 1884-1967
Wolfe, Helen

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