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Marie Manning papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00385

Scope and Contents

The Marie Manning Papers consist primarily of correspondence and typescripts. There are also photographs of the family, principally of Manning's son, Oliver Gasch (born 4 May 1906), as well as photographs of women working in industry during World War II. Letters to Manning from her friend Olivia Torrence span a lifetime and provide valuable documentation of a long-term friendship between women. World War II correspondence between Manning and her son, Oliver Gasch, is an excellent example of that genre, the more so because both saved the letters. In addition, there are short missives from Eleanor Roosevelt to Marie Manning, as well as several photographs of the two women together. Others of note in the collection are the Earl of Halifax, Harold Ickes, and Margaret Chase Smith. The writings contained in this collection, especially those relating to the "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" advice column, offer insight into the domestic and marital problems encountered by the women of Manning's time (and in some cases by the men as well). Although the column was originally "advice for the lovelorn," it evolved over time to encompass practical solutions to a wide range of problems encountered by ordinary citizens, particularly with the advent of World War II. Most of the collection dates from the 1920s to 1945, and types of material include correspondence, photographs, and typescripts of writings, as well as Manning's "featherweight" typewriter.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1901-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1945


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The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works of Marie Manning. 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

Marie Manning was secretive about her age, even with her immediate family, and her exact date of birth is therefore unknown. She was born in Washington, D.C. to Elizabeth (Barrett) and Michael Charles Manning, probably on 22 January 1872. Manning was educated privately at various schools, graduating from Miss Kerr's, a Washington finishing school. Her mother died in childbirth when she was six and her father died when she was eighteen. In the early 1890s she visited relatives in England, where she "learned enough of English life" to write her first novel, Lord Alingham, Bankrupt, published in 1901.

In 1896, Manning met Arthur Brisbane, Editor of the New York World, who invited her to move to New York and join the writing staff at a "space rate" salary of approximately $5 per week. Upon obtaining an exclusive interview with President Grover Cleveland, something he had refused to the "star reporters" of the day, Manning was promoted to permanent staff at a salary of $30 per week. When Brisbane took a job at the New York Evening Journal in 1898, at his invitation Manning did so as well. She worked with two other women in what was known as the "Hen Coop," creating the women's page.

One day in 1898, Brisbane brought to the "Hen Coop" three letters from readers seeking advice about personal problems, because he believed the women were most qualified to reply. In response, Manning suggested a new column, to be devoted exclusively to dispensing personal advice. Manning and Brisbane agreed that a pen name was in order, whereupon Manning suggested Beatrice Fairfax, after Dante's Beatrice and the Manning family's country place in Fairfax County, Virginia. "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" premiered on 20 July 1898 as the nation's first "advice to the lovelorn" column. It was an immediate success, and the Journal's offices were so inundated with letters that the Post Office soon refused to deliver them and the Journal had to retrieve them by its own means. The column was distinguished by frank, commonsense advice and came to be widely imitated nationwide. Despite the "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" column's enormous popularity, not to mention the considerable time, effort and intellectual discipline it took to write it, Manning's job remained low in pay and in status, and she eventually resigned.

In 1905, Manning married Herman Edward Gasch and returned to Washington where she lived for the rest of her life. While devoting most of her time to raising their two sons, Manning and Oliver, she continued to write in her own name, submitting short stories for publication in Harper's Monthly, Collins, Ladies' Home Journal, and Woman's Home Companion. Due to losses suffered in the stock market crash in 1929, Manning asked Arthur Brisbane for a job; he obliged and she again took up writing the "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" column, which by then had been syndicated. She wrote the column until she died on 28 November 1945.

In addition to the novel Lord Alingham, Bankrupt (1902) and short stories for the various magazines, Manning also published three other books: Judith of the Plains (1903), Personal Reply (1943), and Ladies Now and Then (1945).


7.647 linear feet (18 containers)


Columnist and novelist. The Manning Papers consist primarily of correspondence and writings. The writings contained in this collection, especially those relating to the Dear Beatrice Fairfax advice column, offer insight into the domestic and marital issues encountered by women. Correspondence includes letters from her friend Olivia Torrence which span a lifetime; letters between Manning and her son during World War II; as well as letters from Eleanor Roosevelt, Earl of Halifax, Harold Ickes, and author Margaret Chase Smith.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Writings
  4. IV. Subject Files
  5. Oversize Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Marie Manning Papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1998 by her son, Oliver Gasch, a United States District Judge. Oliver Gasch's son, Michael Gasch, added to the collection in 2000. The unpublished manuscript, "The Town of Glass Houses" was donated by Scott Williamson in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 2001.

Marie Manning papers
Finding Aid
Burd Schlessinger
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: mnsss42 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: 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