Skip to main content

Ruth Pierson Churchill papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00402

Scope and Contents

The World War I Relief Work Papers of Ruth V. Pierson Churchill consist of 5 linear inches of correspondence, photographs and other material dating from 1918-1988. The bulk of the material dates from 1919-1929 and relates to the two years she spent in France from 1919-1920. There is correspondence from Churchill to her family during her work in France (1919-1920), as well as letters to Churchill from friends she met there (1919-1971). The friends include Jeannine Issartel, Simone Plateau, Veuve Harle, Leone Provost Fauve, and others. There are several letters from U.S. servicemen serving overseas in 1918 (including her brother-in-law), the original letter from Rev. Albert Hall Marion requesting Church's services (July 15, 1919), as well as a bank book and a scrapbook kept by Church while in France. There are also a variety of photographs, postcards and news clippings, and an outline of Church's service in France, written by Church herself in 1965.

Dates of Materials

  • 1919-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1919-1929


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

The copyright owner of unpublished works of Ruth Churchill is unknown. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

Ruth Vail Pierson Churchill, born August 22, 1896, graduated from Smith College with the Class of 1919. Following graduation, Churchill (then Pierson) went to the city of Chateau-Thierry, France, to work for the Foreign Missions Board of the Methodist Church. She went in response to a letter of request from Rev. Albert Hall Marion and his wife Eva, dated July 15, 1919. Marion was a family friend and minister from Churchill's hometown of Madison, New Jersey. He had served in the YMCA during the war, returned to France following the armistice, and was appointed the Director of the Chateau-Thierry Methodist Memorial under the auspices of the Eglise Methodiste Episcopale de France's War Relief Committee. Churchill was assigned to assist in construction, supply, medical, and morale projects in Chateau-Thierry, including the village of Crezancy. Although the work was similar to the undertakings of the Smith College Relief Unit (working nearby on the Somme River), the group Churchill worked with was under the control of the Methodist Church, and not directly connected to Smith College or its war relief efforts.

Churchill left France in May 1920. In the years following she maintained contact with many of the friends she met there, and continued her commitment to public service. She remained active in Smith College alumnae activities: she served in various capacities for her class beginning in 1939 through the 1980s; she was corresponding secretary and then president of the Summit Smith Club from 1938-1943; and she was president of the Alumnae Association from 1947-1950. She also worked on the 25th reunion book for her class in 1944, and the college's 75th Anniversary Fund from 1946-1947. Church was also an active participant in community affairs in Morris County, New Jersey. She worked with the Defense Council of Madison, the War Price and Rationing Board, the Women's Republican Club, the League of Women Voters, the Red Cross, the Morris County Welfare Board, the Madison Public Library, the Madison and Chatham Township Historical Societies, the Community Church of Summit, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also wrote occasional columns for the Chatham Courier and the Madison Eagle.

Ruth Pierson Churchill died August 16, 1999, one week before her 103rd birthday. She left three children: Martha Churchill Drake (class of 1950), Emily Churchill Wood (class of 1946) and John Churchill.


1 boxes (.5 linear feet)


Smith graduate and WWI relief worker. The bulk of the papers documents her relief work for the Foreign Missions Board of the Methodist Church in France, during World War I. Papers include photographs, a scrapbook, postcards, news clippings, and an outline of Church's service in France. Also included is correspondence between Churchill and her family, friends, and U.S. servicemen.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. I. Biography
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Photographs and Memorabilia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Ruth V. Pierson Churchill relating to her relief work in France following World War I (1919-1920) were given to the Smith College Archives as part of a larger donation which included papers concerning her time as a student at the school (1916-1919). The donation came (presumably) in two sections: one in 1989, and another some time following. They were transferred to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2000.

Related Material

Additional material may also be found in the Smith College Archives Class of 1919 files (under Pierson, Ruth Vail), and the Class of 1950 files (under Churchill, Martha Ann, Ruth's daughter). There is also related information in the Smith College Archives War Service files, including records of the Smith College Relief Unit and the Smith College Canteen Unit (under the YMCA).

Processing Information

Processed by Laura Finkel, 2000.

Ruth Pierson Churchill papers
Finding Aid
Laura Finkel
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: mnsss7 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