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Ruth Mellor papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00253

Scope and Contents

The papers consist primarily of material related to a survey conducted by Ruth Mellor in 1929 for the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene. The purpose of the survey was to assess social welfare services in the state of Connecticut, and information was gathered from institutions concerned with providing those services. They included churches; hospitals and clinics; mental health institutions; state agencies; charities and humane societies; and county homes, as well as rural and city schools and several colleges. The principle method for gathering information was to interview a range of educators, judges, lawmakers, doctors, social workers, prison wardens, and other citizens concerned with the welfare of the indigent and the mentally, emotionally and physically impaired. The interviews are summarized by Mellor and often include her frank assessment of the interviewee. These, along with some statistical data and notations about site visits, comprise the bulk of the papers. Mellor often used the reverse side of professional correspondence for hand-written and typed notes.

Also included are twenty-seven passionate love letters to Mellor from Marion W. Bomer, called Maisie or Wendy, written in 1928-29. Apparently against Bomer's wishes and to her distress, Mellor had insisted on one year of separation, during which time Bomer pined for her and pleaded to be reunited. The letters clearly indicate a lesbian relationship. The papers also include letters to Bomer from two other women who appear to have been attracted to her romantically. Love letters to Mellor from George de Schweinitz, written during the 1930s, suggest that Mellor was probably bisexual.

The papers also include general correspondence, and typed and hand-written notes. Material pertaining to Mellor's education is located in the Professional Activities series, as part of her employment application to the Connecticut Society for Mental Health. Since Dr. Samuel W. Hamilton participated in the Connecticut Society for Mental Health survey, a list of interviews by him is filed with those conducted by Mellor.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1921-1970
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1928-1930


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

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. 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

Ruth Mellor was born in Rockville, Connecticut on January 15, 1889 and graduated from Smith College in 1912. In 1916-17, she attended the Bryant and Stratton Business School in Boston, and from 1918 to 1922 was executive secretary of American Red Cross, Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1923 she earned her master's degree in psychiatric social work at the School of Social Work in New York City, afterwards working as Chief of Social Service at the Child Guidance Demonstration Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1924 to 1926. From 1926 to 1929 she worked at the Children's Aid Society in Philadelphia, taking time in 1929 to act as field psychiatric worker in a survey conducted by the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene. While living in the Philadelphia area, she continued her friendship with Mildred Scott Olmsted, who also graduated from Smith College in 1912. Mellor worked as a social worker for the Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene from 1929 to 1931, and from 1931 to 1933 was executive secretary of the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene. She took a position as executive director of the Mental Hygiene Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky, where she remained at least until 1949. (This clinic was renamed the Bingham Child Guidance Clinic, which was heir to Ruth Mellor's estate.) She was also a lecturer in the Social Sciences division of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville until her retirement in 1961. She died in Louisville on November 9, 1989.


0.876 linear feet (3 containers)


Social Worker. Papers consist primarily of material related to a survey conducted by Ruth Mellor in 1929 for the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene to assess social welfare services in the state of Connecticut. Also included is personal correspondence with close friend and Smith College classmate, Mildred Scott Olmsted and numerous love letters to Mellor from both a woman and man.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Biographical
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Professional Activities
  4. IV. 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

The Swarthmore Peace Collection donated the Ruth Mellor Papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1991. The Bingham Child Guidance Center donated additional material in 1999.

Related Material

The Ruth Mellor Papers were originally part of the Mildred Scott Olmsted Papers at the Swarthmore Peace Collection, and additional correspondence is located there.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 1997.

Ruth Mellor papers
Finding Aid
Burd Schlessinger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processing funded by Carel Bailey Germain Fund. 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: mnsss45 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: 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