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Teresina R. Havens papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00211

Scope and Contents

The Teresina Rowell Havens Papers consist of 3 1/3 linear feet of correspondence, photographs, diaries, writings, memorabilia, printed material, and one audiotape. They date from 1891 to 1994 with the bulk of the material beginning in the 1930s.

Included with these papers are travel diaries, a small amount of correspondence, and writings of her mother, Teresina Peck Rowell. The Teresina Rowell Havens Papers provide an excellent insight into one women's spiritual development as well as some of the experimental teaching methods of the 1970s. Teresina's life was intentionally unconventional and her papers reflect an alternative lifestyle spanning 50 years.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1891-1994


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. The diaries were formerly closed at the direction of the donor until 2000.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works of Teresina Havens. Copyright to materials created by others 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. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

Teresina Rowell was born January 13, 1909, the daughter of Wilfrid Asa Rowell, a Congregational minister, and Teresina Peck Rowell (Smith 1894). Following her graduation from Smith College in 1929, Rowell went to Europe. She traveled during the summer and then studied comparative religion at the University of London. She returned to the United States in 1931 and began study at Yale under a fellowship awarded by the National Council of Religion in Higher Education. She received a Ph.D. in comparative religion from Yale in 1933. Between 1933 and 1936 Rowell taught Sociology of Religion at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. In 1936 she visited Japan to investigate the relationship between Buddhism and the Imperial (Shinto) Cult. While there, she encountered the Itto-En sect, a group of Buddhist Christians who were practicing voluntary poverty. She gave up her traveling money to the founder of the order and became an apostle and missionary. She returned to the U.S. in 1937. In 1940 she became a Quaker after working as summer staff at the Quaker retreat and study center at Pendle Hill, Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Influenced by socialist Quakers and the journal of the Quaker, John Woolman, she lived with coal-miners' families in eastern Ohio in the late-1930s. In August 1942, with three other Pendle Hill students, she moved to the black ghetto of Chester, Pennsylvania, and set up a work and prayer commune where she did volunteer housework and other manual labor for families. In 1945, Joseph Durald Havens joined the commune and he and Teresina were married in January 1947. A daughter, Lucia, was born in 1947 and a son, Wilfrid Thwing, in 1951. She was also a staff member at Pendle Hill from 1942 to 1948.

Throughout the years Teresina Havens taught religion at various colleges and universities including Beloit College (1938); Smith College (1939-42); University of Southern California (1950-51); Wilmington College (Ohio) (1954-56) and Springfield College (Massachusetts) (1968-70). She also taught philosophy at Westfield State College (Massachusetts) (1966-67). In the 1970s she taught courses at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in their semi-autonomous experimental Project 10, which was a series of seminars, workshops, and tutorials meant to explore different ways of learning.

In 1972 the Havens set out on a five-month odyssey across the United States, visiting a number of spiritual communities. Returning to the east they purchased land in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, where they created a spiritual retreat and conference center. They named the place Temenos, a Greek word for the sacred enclosed place surrounding a temple or altar. It was incorporated in 1981 under an advisory group with the Havens as founders and program directors. They retired and moved to Oregon in 1989 where Teresina died February 14,1992.


11.022 linear feet (17 containers)


Professor of comparative religion; Founder, spiritual retreat Temenos, Shutesbury, MA. Included in the collection are scrapbooks from Japan and the coal mining town of Bradley, Ohio. Correspondence with family members provides insight into her personal and spiritual development. Havens' papers include dairies; Smith College student papers; published articles; teaching materials; and the papers of her mother, Teresina Peck Rowell.


This collection is organized into five series:

  1. I. Biographical Material, Memorabilia, and Photographs
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Writings
  4. IV. Teaching and Lecture Material
  5. V. Subjects


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

Teresina Rowell Havens donated her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection between 1986 and 1991. Additional material was donated by Marjorie Kellogg and Lenore Diane in 1992, Lucia Havens Anderson in 2001, and Barbara Zagrodnik in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 2000.

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. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2001-S-0017, Boxes 1-8 renumbered as Boxes 9-16

Teresina R. Havens 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: mnsss28 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 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