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MC 673

Fernside (Princeton, Mass.). Records of Fernside, 1878-1998: 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

Processing of this collection was made possible by the generosity of Clara Schiffer.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 673
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Fernside (Princeton, Mass.)
Title: Records of Fernside, 1878-1998
Date(s): 1878-1998
Quantity: 5.21 linear feet (6 + 1/2 file boxes, 2 card boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 2 folio folders, 1 folio+ folder, 4 photograph folders, 1 folio box of photographs, 1 volume of photographs, 8 slides, 15 negatives)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: These records document the activities, events, and management of Fernside, a vacation house in Princeton, Massachusetts, which provided affordable summer holidays for working women from Boston between 1890 and 1989. Included are correspondence, brochures, games and other entertainments, financial records, photographs, and clippings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2005-M168, 2006-M8
The records of Fernside were given to the Schlesinger Library by Richard and Jocelyn Morrison in 2005 and 2006.

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2011
By: Laura Peimer

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Fernside 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Fernside Records, 1878-1998; item description, dates. MC 673, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donors: Jocelyn and Richard Morrison
Accession numbers: 2005-M168, 2006-M8
Processed by: Laura Peimer
Numerous vacation slides to Europe and throughout America (ca.1950s-1960s), as well as some general views of the area around Fernside, have been removed from the collection. The following published materials have been transferred to Harvard University Archives:
Additional published materials, including sheet music of popular songs, Schirmer's Library of four hand piano music books, various song books, and the following have been removed for the Schlesinger Library book sale:


In the 1880s, the Working-Girls' Club in Boston, Massachusetts, appealed for donations to support summer vacations in the country for the city's working women. The goals of the organizers were not only to provide rest for women who worked in department stores, dressmaking establishments, factories, laundries, and restaurants, but also to expose women to "elevating influences," which would improve their general spiritual and physical welfare. Through ongoing donations, the newly organized Girls' Vacation House Association, under the leadership of M. Josephine Allen, purchased Fernside in 1890. An historic mansion in Princeton, Massachusetts, Fernside would provide a vacation home for affordable summer holidays. The Women's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston acted as the agent for Fernside, registering women applicants to fill the forty-two spots for the two-week stays offered by the Association. Some women paid full board and fare, while others were fully subsidized. Each guest was responsible for daily chores, and the house also employed a cook and assistant, laundress, waitress, housemaid, housekeeper, and a groom. In 1921 the carriage barn on the property was converted into a theater and women performed plays each week for themselves and the townspeople. Starting in the late 1920s guests also compiled an ongoing newsletter, Fernside Log, which included accounts of activities at the house and stories about guests. A reunion of former guests was held in November each year, and during the winter the women who had stayed at Fernside organized parties and other events to raise money. In 1957, board members and Fernside guests dedicated a memorial to Fernside at the "Lookout" -- a nearby structure that was built of field stones and cedar posts and which afforded a view across the valley.
Fernside closed in 1989. Jocelyn and Richard Morrison purchased the house in 1994, restoring the building to its original floorplan of 1835. In 1996, they reopened Fernside as a bed and breakfast.


The Fernside records contain correspondence; photographs; pamphlets and brochures; guest books; songs; games and other entertainments; guest registration cards (for last names beginning G-O only); board minutes; menus, grocery lists, and recipes; reunion materials; financial records; and clippings. The materials largely document the activities and events at Fernside, with many examples of parlor games, songs, and plays; some printed material not specific to Fernside, or not annotated, was removed. Included are the "Evening Hymn for Fernside" (#8.6) and Songs We Love to Sing at Fernside (#9.1), handcrafted posters possibly used for performances or other activities (4OB.1), and photographs of women in costume posing for the camera. There are also handwritten copies of the Fernside Log and various reports and minutes from committees and meetings, which provide accounts of the activities of guests, as well as the management and maintenance of the house; correspondence with former guests; a reunion report from 1931 that contains poems and sentiments about friendship and Fernside (#9.7); typescripts of recollections of life at Fernside (#9.6); and correspondence with current owners Jocelyn and Richard Morrison (#1.9). The records were not in any order when received and have been arranged by the processor, who also created the folder titles. Files are 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

Women--Services for--Massachusetts
Women--Recreation--Social aspects
Working class women--Recreation--Massachusetts
Girls' Vacation House Association