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Leslie Nelson Savage Mahoney papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00229

Scope and Contents

The Leslie Nelson Savage Mahoney Papers consist of four linear feet of correspondence, writings, diaries, and photographs and date from 1890 to 1986. The bulk of the material dates from 1942 to 1970. The papers are both personal and professional in nature and provide insight into the life a southern woman and a professional single mother.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1890-1986
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1942-1970


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 Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to materials authored by Leslie Nelson Savage Mahoney. Permission is required from the Sophia Smith Collection beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials created by others is owned by those individuals or organizations. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Leslie Nelson ("Nell") Savage was born in 1890 in Nashville, Tennessee, one of three daughters of Leslie Alice Jones and opthamologist Dr. Giles Christopher Savage. She graduated from Ward Seminary, a private girls' school in Nashville, in 1908 and began study at Vanderbilt University. After a year she transferred to Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912. Her continued interest in architectural history and design led her to take courses at the Art League in New York, the New York School of Applied Design for Women, and Cooper Union. She began study in 1916 at Ward Belmont School, completing a Certificate in Interior Decorating. In July 1918, she received an appointment as clerk in the Surgeon General's Office in Washington, D.C. She resigned in October of the same year. In 1923 she married Charles Hallum Mahoney, the first cousin of her sister Kate's husband. They were divorced in May 1925. She received full custody of their daughter Margaret Ellerbe Mahoney who was born in October 1924.

Nell entered Vanderbilt University in 1937 and received her Master of Arts degree in history in 1939. Her thesis was titled "The Building of the Tennessee State House, 1845-1854," and was written under the direction of Professor Frank L. Owsley. She worked as an interior decorator, lecturer, and writer. Her work on architect William Strickland was published in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly and various magazines and newspapers. In 1944, she worked for the Department of Military Intelligence in the Signal Corps. Although she anticipated the publication of a monograph on Strickland through McMillan & Co., the manuscript was never completed. She died January 30, 1986.


6.333 linear feet (12 containers)


Architectural historian and interior decorator. The papers provide insight into the life a southern woman and a professional single mother. Her writings include material related to interior decorating; poetry; travel diaries; an unpublished biography of her father; and photographs of mostly family mambers. Correspondents include photographer, Frances Benjamin Johnston and lawyer and House of Representatives member, Lucy Sommerville Howorth.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Writings
  4. IV. Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Margaret Mahoney, 1986-1995. Some of the material was originally stored at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Related Material

Related materials may be found in the Margaret E. Mahoney papers in the Sophia Smith Collection, the Tenessee State Library Archives, and the Interior Design Department, Watkins College of Art Design in Nashville, Tennessee.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 2001.

Leslie Nelson Savage Mahoney papers
Finding Aid
Susan Boone
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: mnsss44 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: 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