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Marion Barnes Meisel papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00284

Scope and Contents

The Marion Barnes Meisel Papers consist of .75 linear ft. of material dating from 1895 to 1983 and are primarily related to her work as a poet and photographer. Types of materials include correspondence, drafts and published versions of poems, photographs, newspaper clippings, business information, and memorabilia.

Correspondence dates primarily from 1896 to 1899 and consists of letters from Victor Lichtenstein. There are some later letters from Marion Burling dating from 1935 to 1959.

The bulk of the papers date from 1917 to 1950 and consist of poems written by Meisel, as well as her photographic works. The photographs are primarily portraits, with some landscapes and artistic pieces. The bulk of the photographs are unidentified and undated. There are also scrapbook pages and photographs of Marion and her cats.

Dates of Materials

  • 1895-1983


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

Copyright ownership of Marion Meisel's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Meisel may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond \"fair use.\" 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. 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 / Historical

Marion Barnes Meisel was born Mary Hall Barnes in 1874 to James Jethro Barnes and Cornelia V. Hall Barnes in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the second oldest and only girl of four children. Her father was a prominent figure, serving as a City Councilman and Sheriff in Atlanta in the late nineteenth century. Little is known about Meisel's childhood.

Marion Barnes studied piano intermittently between 1895 and 1901 at C.A. Klemm's Musikalen-Sortiment in Leipzig, Germany. During this time she was courted by a violinist from Missouri named Victor Lichtenstein. In 1902, at age 28, she married Guido Meisel, a German chemist. They resided primarily in New York City and Boston. Marion studied photography at the Clarence H. White school of photography and became part of a community of elite photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz and Arthur D. Chapman. She worked primarily as a portrait photographer during the World War I period. Guido was convicted of commercial espionage in 1928, having sold chemical information to the Germans. This resulted in their separation and his permanent residence in Germany. They had no children.

After Guido's conviction, Marion moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, where she owned the Treasure Chest Tavern and Antique Shop which served the Vassar College community. She then moved to Weston, Vermont around 1935 to open the Hitching Post, a country inn. Marion also wrote poetry upon moving to Vermont, some of which was published in small magazines such as The Florida Magazine of Verse and Driftwinds. Her writing culminated in the publication of her only book, As The Pendulum Swings, published by Driftwinds Press in 1946. Cats were an important part of Marion's life and while living in Vermont she began working as a cat breeder.

Around 1948, when she was 74, Marion moved to South Londonderry, Vermont and then to Acworth, New Hampshire in 1951. Around 1959, at age 85, Marion moved back to New York City where she remained until her death in 1965 at age 91.


1.854 linear feet (2 containers)


Photographer, Cat breeder, Poet, Restaurateur. Photographs; poems; notes; correspondence. Half of the collection is comprised of the Meisel's photographs (portraits), plus a few of her with her cats. There are also drafts of poems, and a small amount of personal correspondence.


This collection is organized into four series:


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Richard Hanau donated Marion Meisel's Papers to the Sophia Smith Collection 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by Allison Pilatsky, 2009.

Marion Barnes Meisel papers
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Allison Pilatsky.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:15-04:00: 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