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MC 762; DVD-101

Camp Walden (Denmark, Me.). Records of Camp Walden, 1916-2014 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (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 a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 762; DVD-101
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Camp Walden (Denmark, Me.)
Title: Records of Camp Walden (Denmark, Me.), 1916-2014 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk)
Date(s): 1916-2014
Date(s): 1930-1970
Quantity: 12.02 linear feet (7 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 1 card file box, 1 folio box, 3 folio+ boxes, 2 oversize boxes) plus 4 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 55 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders, 7 folio+ photograph folders, 1 supersize photograph folder, 184 slides, 1 DVD, 1 object, electronic records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Photographs, camp uniforms, song books, campers' letters, DVD, and memorabilia of Camp Walden, a girls' camp established in 1916.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2003-M87, 2003-M112, 2003-M154, 2004-M7, 2005-M135, 2006-M133, 2006-M159, 2006-M191, 2007-M158, 2011-M127.
Accession numbers: 2013-M201, 2014-M43 were added in April 2014.
The records of Camp Walden were given to the Schlesinger Library by Helen Herz Cohen between July 2003 and January 2004, with additional donations by Marie Ariel in October 2005, Linda Abess Ellis between August 2006 and August 2007, Ellen Elting Michelman and Susan Elting Hillyard in October 2006, and Camp Walden in July 2011, by Kathy Jonas in November 2013, and Barbara Loebenstein Michaels in March 2014.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2013
By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Emily Underwood.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Researchers must sign a special permission form to use the collection. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Camp Walden 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:

Camp Walden Records, 1916-2014; item description, dates. MC 762, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donors: Helen Herz Cohen
Accession numbers: 2003-M87, 2003-M154
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Books Department:

HISTORICAL NOTE

Blanche Hirsch, a graduate of Barnard College, taught mathematics at the Park Avenue School in New York; she later bought the school, renaming it the Alcuin School, and served as its head. In 1915, inspired by the writings of Henry David Thoreau, Hirsch and Clara Altschul purchased 45 acres of land in the woods near Denmark, Maine, for $800, with the goal of establishing a camp providing city girls with an outdoor camping experience and an appreciation of nature. Hirsch developed plans for the camp, designing a main house and 5 cabins with running water and indoor plumbing, so that the girls would not have to go into the woods at night to use an outhouse. Camp Walden opened in 1916, with thirty girls enrolled for the nine-week season, at a cost of $300 each; the number of campers soon grew to over a hundred with the number of cabins and other camp buildings also increasing. Notable former campers include author Ruth Krauss, poet and activist Muriel Rukeyser, and movie director Nancy Meyers.
From its earliest days, the camp sought to create an atmosphere of trust, respect, and consideration for others, with an emphasis on sportsmanship and giving your best effort. Girls were taught a variety of land sports, as well as swimming, rowing, and arts and crafts, and were divided into two teams, with Bruno the bear as the mascot of the Brown Team and Tango the monkey the mascot of the Tan Team. Hirsch and Altschul also established the traditions of campers' creating a newsletter, Splash, and going on overnight camping trips. Other traditions included the "bunkshows" performed each Saturday night by different cabins, and the Banquet Night celebration at the end of the camp season.
In 1938, Helen Herz Cohen, a former counselor at the camp, and a niece of Blanche Hirsch, was named director of the camp. She later purchased the camp and remained its director until her retirement in 1995, when her daughter Wendy took over as director. In 1968, Helen Herz Cohen established The Main Idea, a 10-day free summer camp program for disadvantaged girls. Helen Herz Cohen died in 2006 and Wendy Cohen in 2008. Upon Wendy Cohen's death, leadership of the camp passed to a board of trustees selected by Wendy and Helen Herz Cohen. The trustees appointed Kathy Jonas director of the camp in 2010. For further information, see the camp's official web site.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in three series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

This collection documents the activities of campers at Camp Walden in Denmark, Maine. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs of campers and counselors (group portraits, informal photographs, and images of campers engaging in activities such as sports, dramatics, and crafts), and camp buildings and interiors. Collection also includes camp uniforms; mementoes kept by campers and their letters home; counselors' reports on campers; brochures; menus; songbooks; scrapbooks; directories of former campers; and anniversary books. Very little material on the administration of the camp is included. In 2003, after agreeing to donate its records to the Schlesinger Library, the camp asked former campers to send in uniforms, photographs, letters, and other souvenirs of their time at Camp Walden, to be added to the collection. Campers responded by sending material either to the camp or directly to the library.
Folder titles were created by the processor; titles created by campers or camp administrators, when used, appear in quotation marks. Issues of the camp's annual publications, Splash and The Main Idea, have been removed and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Printed Materials Division. (One version of the 1977 edition of Splash, and the 1980, and 1981 editions, belonged to former camper Susan Palestine Grant and contain messages from other campers to her.; the 1948 edition belonged to Barbara Loebenstein Michaels and has messages from other campers to her.) Two issues of another camp newsletter, titled Newsletter, have also been transferred to the Printed Materials Division. The camp's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX).
Additional material received 2013-2014 (accession numbers 2013-M201 and 2014-M43) was added to the collection in April 2014. These materials are housed in #16.1-16.7 and DVD-101.1. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.
Series I, PHOTOGRAPHS, PUBLICITY, MEMORABILIA, AND ADMINISTRATION, 1916-2012 (#1.1-4.1, FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1, OD.1, 8OB.1m-9OB.1m, PD.1-PD.49sl, DVD-101.1, E.1), consists primarily of photographs, both loose and in albums, documenting activities at the camp (and changes in its uniform) from its founding until approximately 1995. Campers can be seen throughout the years engaging in sports, crafts, and dramatics. Photographs of the camp's co-founder Blanche Hirsch and longtime director Helen Herz Cohen are also included, as well as images of camp buildings and interiors. The series also includes "anniversary books" with addresses and reminiscences of former campers; brochures and booklets about the camp; information on camp reunions; a scrapbook with photographs of campers, clippings, and camp mementoes; song books; and camp uniforms which could not be attributed to specific campers. There is only a small amount of material related to administration of the camp: this includes blank health and registration forms; menus; counselors' diaries describing daily activities at the camp; a notebook of instructions for operating the camp; and a list of expenses. The series is arranged alphabetically, with the photograph folders listed chronologically therein.
Series II, ITEMS KEPT BY CAMPERS AND COUNSELORS, 1916-2014 (#4.2-7.7, 13.1m, 16.1-16.7, FD.3m-FD.4, F+D.2, SD.1, 15FB.1v, 10F+B.1m-10F+B.3m, 12F+B.1m, 14F+B.1m, 9OB.2m-9OB.9m, 11CB.1m-11CB.7m, PD.50-PD.66, Mem.1+), includes camp uniforms (shorts, blouses, t-shirts, a sweater, neckerchiefs), pins, rings, felt badges, Banquet Night favors, a wooden box made by a camper, and other mementoes kept by former campers and counselors. The series also includes letters home, letters exchanged among campers (including "truck letters" given to campers going on overnight trips), a notebook kept by the president of the camp's council, and photographs of campers and counselors. The series is arranged alphabetically by name of camper.
Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1916-1999, n.d. (PD.1-PD.66), serves as a shelflist for photographs described in Series I and II.
Most 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

Archery
Camps--Maine
Camps--Management
Camps for girls--Maine
Diaries
DVD-Video discs
Electronic records
Girls--Social life and customs--20th century
Hiking--United States
Horsemanship--United States
Jewish women--United States
Maine--Social life and customs--20th century
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Songbooks
Sports for girls--United States
Swimming--United States
Web sites
Women-owned business enterprises--United States
Altshul, Clara
Cohen, Helen Herz
Hirsch, Blanche

sch01436