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Frances Rich papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00129

Scope and Contents

The Frances Rich Papers focus primarily on her professional career as a sculptor, but include a small amount of material about her work as Public Relations Director at Smith College and her service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Contents include scrapbooks, clippings, photos, posters, correspondence, artwork, interview material. The Papers are arranged in three series:


Types of material include correspondence, articles and clippings, memorabilia, photographs, exhibit catalogs, posters, and scrapbooks. Photographs are located in both SERIES II and III.

Dates of Materials

  • 1912 - 1988


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 papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restriction. Copyright to materials created by Frances Rich is owned by her estate. Copyright to materials created by persons other than Frances Rich 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.

Biographical / Historical

Irene Frances Luther Rich was born in Spokane, Washington, on 8 January 1910. She was named after her mother, Irene Frances Luther (film actress Irene Rich), but used Frances Rich to avoid confusion. She was educated in Swiss schools and at the School for Girls in Santa Barbara, California. She received a B.A. from Smith College in 1931 with a major in English Literature.

In the years following her graduation, Rich appeared in a number of Hollywood films and on stage. In 1933 she met sculptor, Malvina Hoffman, and studied with her in Paris for two years. When she returned to the U.S. Rich did intensive work at the Boston Museum School and established her own studio in New York City. Between 1937 and 1940 she was a resident student at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she met sculptor Carl Milles, with whom she worked for the next eighteen years.

When the United States entered World War II, Rich began work as a mechanical draftsman at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California. In 1942 she joined the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Navy as a Junior Grade Lieutenant, graduating in the first class of women at the Officer's Training School at Smith College. She was posted to Washington, D.C. and became the National Director of Publicity for "V" Mail and traveling speaker for the Director of the WAVES. When she was discharged at the end of the war, Rich held the rank of Lt. Commander and received a citation for outstanding service from the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Following the war she did graduate work at Scripps College working with sculptor Albert Stewart, and at Columbia University. In 1947 she became the first Director of Public Relations at Smith College, a post she held until 1950 when she resigned to return to her art work. Rich has been featured in many publications and has exhibited in major art centers. Her works include portrait busts, wall and door panels, plaques and medallions, drawings, and statues. Subjects of her portrait busts include Alice Stone Blackwell, Lotte Lehmann, Margaret Sanger, Diego Rivera, and Katharine Hepburn. She also sculpted the Army-Navy Nurse Monument in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Much of her work is religious in nature and includes statues of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joseph, Christ of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Combermere, St. Catherine of Siena, and various Madonnas. Rich established studios in California, and Payson, Arizona.

Frances Rich died at her home in Payson, Arizona, on October 14, 2007


2.634 linear feet (16 containers)


Sculptor; Director, Smith College Public Relations; and Officer, United States Naval Reserve, World War II. Focuses primarily on her career as a sculptor, with a small amount of material on her work (as student and staff) at Smith College and in U.S. Navy. Material includes correspondence, biographical articles, research files, clippings, exhibit catalogs (sculptures of notable people), posters, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Frances Rich donated her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection from 1981 to 1996. Priscilla Cunningham donated her letters from Rich in 2002. Additional materials were donated by Anthony Lame, son of Rich's college roommate, Mary Perkins Lame, in 2013.

Separated Materials

Additional papers are housed at Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), Getty Department of Humanities (Santa Monica, California), and Smith College Archives. In addition there nine of Rich's works of art located on the Smith College Campus (see Appendix I for locations).

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised by Susan Boone in 2004.

Finding Aid to the Frances Rich papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by 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: mnsss109 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-07-20: Added flat file info., updated dates and scope and contents note
  • 2021-12-20: Reunited 10 WAVES posters

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063