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MC 839

Clark, Ruth Ulam, 1910-2002. Papers of Ruth Ulam Clark, 1942-1957: 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.: MC 839
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Clark, Ruth Ulam, 1910-2002
Title: Papers of Ruth Ulam Clark, 1942-1957
Date(s): 1942-1957
Quantity: 1.25 linear feet (3 file boxes) plus 3 photograph folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Courtship correspondence between Ruth Ulam, a laboratory technician, and her future husband, Harlan C. Clark, an engineer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 2015-M126
The papers of Ruth Ulam Clark were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Between the Covers in July 2015.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2015
By: Johanna Carll

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ruth Ulam Clark 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:

Ruth Ulam Clark Papers, 1942-1957; item description, dates. MC 839, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Ruth Ulam Clark, daughter of John R. and Alma D. (Watters) Ulam, was born May 6, 1910, in Ohio. She trained as a nurse and worked as a laboratory technician at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York. She married Edward F. Frutchey in 1933; they separated in 1943 and divorced in 1944. Following her father's death in 1943, Clark moved to Ohio to be near her mother. Following a short stint working in a "gadget factory" in East Palestine, Ohio, Clark worked as a technician in the hematology division of the Youngstown Hospital Association in Youngstown, Ohio, and as a technician at a tuberculosis sanitarium in Warren, Ohio. In 1944, she married Harlan C. Clark (1909-2004), an engineer for Curtis-Wright Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. Ruth Ulam Clark died December 19, 2002, in New Haven, Connecticut.


The collection contains correspondence between Ruth Ulam and Harlan C. Clark, documenting their personal lives, including books they read, movies and plays they saw, and news about family members; their professional lives; and their courtship. Letters from 1942 also document marital problems between Ruth and her first husband, Edward F. Frutchey, including financial difficulties and Frutchey's adultery. Ruth's letters contain descriptions of her work as a laboratory technician at a tuberculosis sanitarium and in the hematology division of both the north and south side units of the Youngstown Hospital Association, including relations between doctors and technicians, as well as descriptions of equipment and work, including Rh factor testing. Harlan's letters contain descriptions of his work as an engineer in the armament division of the Curtis-Wright Corporation and accounts of bowling and sailing. Both sides of the correspondence document the impact of World War II on the home front, including mentions of gasoline rationing, Ruth's worries about ruining her stockings due to her inability to replace them, and the impact on the draft on staffing and morale at Curtis-Wright.
The main focus of the letters is the growing affection between Ruth and Harlan. In early letters they are friends and confidants, with Ruth confiding in Harlan about her anger over her husband's poor management of their finances, his occasional abandonments of her, and his adultery. After a final failed attempt at reconciliation, Ruth and Harlan both confess that they have romantic feelings toward each other. Once they express their feelings, letters become more affectionate and contain frequent mentions of how much they missing each other and long to see each other. Ruth frequently includes a lipstick imprint, or a swak, at the end of her letters as a token of her affection. While the collection includes a few letters dated after their marriage on October 8, 1944, their correspondence largely ceases with the marriage.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Adultery--United States
Childbirth--United States
Columbus (Ohio)--Social life and customs--20th century
Courtship--United States
Divorce--United States
Poliomyelitis--Patients--United States
Women--Books and reading
World War, 1939-1945--Ohio--Personal narratives
Youngstown (Ohio)--Social life and customs--20th century
Clark, Harlan C., 1909-2004