Bessie Boies Cotton papers
Scope and Contents
- Cotton, Bessie Boies, 1880-1959 (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
Boies joined the staff of the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in 1909, serving until 1940. By 1913, she was placed in charge of the department of personnel for the YWCA's Department of Method. In 1915, she was assigned to set up YWCA facilities at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. In January 1917, Russian women within the Kerensky Provisional Government invited the YWCA to help working women, recently granted full civil rights, to prepare themselves for their new role in society. Boies and one other secretary established an association in Petrograd and in Moscow and worked with women's groups in other cities. They operated a shipboard exhibition along the Volga River in 1918, demonstrating improved nutrition, child care, and agricultural techniques to villagers. The combination of political upheavals as the Bolsheviks seized control, the threat of German invasion after March 1918, and Allied intervention in northern Russia in support of the anti-Bolsheviks led to the evacuation of all Americans from the Bolshevik-controlled portions of the country. Traveling through Stockholm, Boies made her way into northern Russia where she set up box-car canteens for U.S. troops in Archangel.
While in Russia, Boies met Thomas Cotton, a YMCA worker, whom she married in 1919 and divorced in 1938. They had two children, John Boies Cotton and Deborah Boies Cotton Leighton.
In 1921, Bessie Cotton was appointed foreign staff secretary, responsible for seeking out candidates for foreign service, planning their training, and supervising their work. Cotton was especially interested in women's rights, and supported organizations that promoted the welfare of women and children. She continued to work as a consultant for the YWCA up until 1945. She died in Los Angeles, California, on April 23, 1959.
5 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
- I. Biographical Materials
- II. Correspondence
- III. Diaries
- IV. YWCA
- V. Photographs
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Cotton, Bessie Boies, 1880-1959
- Cotton, Thomas Lucius, 1891-1964
- International cooperation
- Leighton, Deborah Boies
- Significant others
- Soviet Union--Revolution, 1917-1921
- Women -- Societies and clubs
- World War, 1914-1918 -- War work -- Young Women's Christian associations
- Young Women's Christian Associations--Middle East--History
- Young Women's Christian Associations--Russia--History
- Bessie Boies Cotton papers
- Finding Aid
- Kara M. McClurken
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2005-09-23: mnsss151 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
- 2017-07-26T17:48:11-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063