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Mildred Louise Boie Saunders papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00247

Scope and Contents

The Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders Papers consist of correspondence, published writings, manuscripts, diaries, photographs, and memorabilia, dating from 1914 to 1978. The bulk of the material dates from 1928 to 1960.

Half of the collection (two document boxes) contain Louise's letters to her twin sister, Maurine, dating from 1928 to the 1960s. The letters serve as Louise's personal journal, in which she shares with her sister intimate reflections on her life, including family relationships, her romances, her experience in psychoanalysis, her observations of world events (especially of World War II), thoughts about her career, her writing, and books she's read. The letters offer an in-depth look at the daily life of a single, working woman in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, written by a talented and very thoughtful writer. The rest of the correspondence (one document box) includes letters to and from other family members, friends, and colleagues of both Louise and Maurine.

Louise's writings fill half a box and consist of published magazine and newspaper articles, book reviews, and poems, including her book, Better Than Laughter. The writings also include typescripts of articles, poems, and short stories, dating from 1926 to 1944. Some of these relate to her work with the Red Cross. Included with her writings are a travel journal from a 1930 trip to Europe (including photographs) and a few pages of journal entries describing her Red Cross work during World War II.

The remainder of the collection (half a document box) consists of biographical material relating to Louise and Maurine, newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and photographs.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1914-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1928-1960


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the donor, Weston LaBarre, has assigned to Smith College all intellectual property rights in these materials created by Mildred Louise Boie Saunders and Maurine Boie LaBarre; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Mildred Louise Boie Saunders and Maurine Boie LaBarre, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Mildred Louise Boie (called Louise) and her twin sister, Maurine Boie, were born in Plainview, Minnesota on May 20, 1907. Louise attended Mankato Teachers College, then earned her B.S. degree in Education from the University of Minnesota in 1927. From 1927 to 1929, she worked in the creative department for the Harrison-Guthrie Advertising Agency in Minneapolis, and also edited a magazine for the C. & C. Publishing Company. In 1930 Louise went to England for a year, where she studied modern English literature at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, and wrote articles for the London Morning Post and the Spectator. When she returned to the United States she took a position as instructor and head of extension classes in English at the University of Minnesota until 1934, when she received her Masters degree in English from the University. Her thesis is entitled Louisa May Alcott. Also in 1934, Louise was awarded the M.P. Sears and F.Z. Gilbert Fellowship in creative work from Radcliffe College and spent the next year studying there.

From 1935 to 1937, Louise served as assistant professor of English at Smith College. She left Smith in 1937 to be associate editor of poetry for the Atlantic Monthly in Boston, under editor Ted Weeks. She remained there until 1940 when she took a position as publicity head for the American Unitarian Association and Service Committee, organizing humanitarian work in Europe and America, and serving as editor for their publication, the Christian Register. During this time Louise also edited books for Bacon Press. Sometime in the late 1930s, while living in Boston, Louise began psychoanalysis with Dr. Leslia Dalrymple.

Feeling that she needed something more stimulating and rewarding in her life, in 1943 Louise applied for overseas work with the American Red Cross and, until 1946, was stationed at various United States Army bases in France, Italy, and Egypt, where she assisted in civilian relief. She was awarded the Bronze Star by the United States Army for her service. While overseas, Louise wrote several articles and short stories about her experiences which were published in various journals, including Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, and Radcliffe Quartery. In 1946, her book of poems, Better Than Laughter was published by the University of Minnesota Press.

In 1948, Louise married Lt. Colonel William (Bill) Saunders and moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where Bill was chief engineer. After a series of health problems, Bill received an honorable discharge and they moved off base into the city of Fayetteville, where he found work as an architect.

Louise was active in numerous community services in Fayetteville. She did volunteer work for the United Services Fund, the Red Cross, the Mental Health Association, and served on the board of the County Guidance Center Advisory Council. During the 1970s and 80s Louise was executive director of the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults. In 1991, when the Sophia Smith Collection received her papers, Louise was living with Maurine and Weston LaBarre at the Carol Woods Retirement Village in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Although both Louise and her twin, Maurine, were active career women and travelled frequently, usually living in different cities, they always remained extremely close and corresponded regularly, sometimes on a weekly basis. Maurine Boie received her Masters in Social Work from Bryn Mawr in 1934, and thereafter she alternately taught and practiced social work in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. During the late 1930s and early 40s, she was editor-in-chief of the The Family, journal of the Family Welfare Association of America in New York City, and in 1943 she wrote the New York Baby Book which was given to every new mother in the city.

In 1939, Maurine married Weston LaBarre and they eventually moved to Durham, North Carolina. There she helped start the Durham Child Guidance Clinic and was founder of the Durham School for Pregnant School Girls. In 1960, Maurine was appointed assistant professor of Psychiatric Social Work at Duke University, where Weston LaBarre also taught, and in 1971 she returned to psychiatric social work at the Duke University Medical Center.

Louise's sister, Maurine Boie LeBarre, died on September 16, 1991 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Louise Boie Saunders died on November 10, 1997 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

born in Plainview, Minnesota, May 20, to Mr. and Mrs. Emil Boie
attended Mankato Teachers College, Mankato, Minnesota
received B.S. degree in Education, University of Minnesota
assistant in Educational Psychology summer school, Minneapolis
editor, civic magazine
account executive and assistant to head of creative dept., Harrison-Guthrie Advertising Agency, Minneapolis
worked for C. & C. Publishing Company
free-lance writer in England
studied modern English literature and adult education at Newnham College, Cambridge University, England
Instructor in English and head of English Dept., University of Minnesota Extension Division
editor of
received M.A. at University of Minnesota; thesis title: “Louisa May Alcott”
M.P. Sears and F.Z. Gilbert Fellowship in creative work at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Instructor of correspondence courses in English and literature, Department of Education, Boston
Assistant Professor in English, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
Associate editor, Atlantic Monthly under editor, Ted Weeks, Boston
psychoanalysis with Dr. Leslia Dalrymple, Boston
Maurine Boie marries Weston LaBarre
publicity head for American Unitarian Association and editor, Christian Register radio program, "Religion at work"
ca. 1940s
editor, Bacon Press
Red Cross service in Italy, Egypt, and Germany (awarded Bronze Star by U.S. Army)
Better Than Laughter published
living in Boston
compiled bulletin for U.S. Office of Education entitled Making Democracy Work and Grow
marries Lt. Col. William Saunders and moves to Fort Bragg, North Carolina
William Saunders receives honorable discharge
William and Louise move off-base to Fayetteville, N.C.
ca. 1960-1970s
chairman, United Fund, Educational Division Drive
member of board of County Guidance Center Advisory Council; United Services Fund; Mental Health Association
Executive Director of Council on Older Adults, Fayetteville, N.C.
ca. 1980s
living at Carol Woods Retirement Village, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with Maurine and Weston LaBarre


1.98 linear feet (6 containers)


Poet; editor; professor, English; and Red Cross worker, World War II. Collection is primarily personal correspondence, including a lifetime of letters to her twin sister, which read as a personal journal and document her career, romances, family relations, experiences in psychoanalysis, and world events. Other material includes photographs; writings; a travel diary from a trip to Europe; and reports to the Red Cross from Italy and Egypt during World War II.


The papers are arranged in four series:

  1. I. Biographical
  2. II. Photographs
  3. III. Writings (of Mildred Louise Boie)
  4. IV. Correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Mildred Louise (Boie) Saunders' papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in several installments, from 1991 to 1993, by her sister Maurine's husband, Weston LaBarre.

Related Material

The archives of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis also has some of Louise's published writings and copies of both Louise's and Maurine's masters theses. The archives at Bryn Mawr College hold some of the papers of Maurine (Boie) LaBarre.

Processing Information

Processed by Margaret Jessup, 1993.

Mildred Louise Boie Saunders papers
Finding Aid
Margaret Jessup
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss62 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063