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Sophia West papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00621

Scope and Contents

The collection contains diaries; poetry and prose by Sophia West and other; medical records and documents pertaining to West's attempts to obtain disability benefits from the State of California; biographical information; several sketchbooks; and some material re: the writer, Sally Belfrage.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1976 - 2009


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for 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 donors have assigned the copyright of West's works to Smith College; 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 West, 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 Note

Sophia Alexandra Zaide Emmet West (aka Luna Moon) was born in New York City, the daughter of Olivia Emmet and Anthony West (himself the son and only child of H.G. Wells and Rebecca West). She had a younger brother, Adam, and a half sister, Caroline. The family lived in New York City and Stonington, Connecticut until 1972, when they moved to London. West returned to the U.S. to attend the Putney School in Putney, Vermont, and then enrolled at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was recognized at both schools as a gifted student and promising writer. West was a lesbian feminist, pacifist, and political activist, choosing to live in a variety of feminist collectives - in Seneca, New York and, ultimately, in Oakland, California. She suffered from epilepsy due to injuries sustained in a childhood sledding accident, and died in Oakland of a seizure at the age of thirty-four. A book of West's poems, Mouths, Tigers' Mouths: Selected Poems was published posthumously by her mother in 2003.


5.708 linear feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains diaries, other personal papers, and writings of Sophia West, a writer, lesbian feminist, pacifist, and political activist who lived in a variety of feminist collectives in New York and California.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was gifted by Lisa Tennyson and by Zvia Bird between 2008 and 2012.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.



Finding aid to the Sophia West papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-15: Updated to conform to DACS
  • 2020-04-02: Added accession #'s 2010-S-0050 and 2012-S-0008, updated dates

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063