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Eleanor Ernst Timberg papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00308

Scope and Contents

The Eleanor Ernst Timberg Papers consist of diaries that span the years from 1930-94 (early diaries include material from her Smith College days) and Touch Toy company's semi-annual newsletters from the years 1977-97.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1905 - 2004


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The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the unpublished works by the creator of this collection. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Eleanor Ernst was born in New York City in 1913. She graduated from Horace Mann School, received a B.A. from Smith College in 1934, and a certificate in political science from the London School of Economics in 1935. She worked as research secretary to the editor of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1935-38; for Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary from 1938-40; and conducted weekly radio programs on Jewish holidays for WNYX. In 1940, she moved to the Washington D.C. area, became an economist at the Office of Price Administration and married Sigmund Timberg, a lawyer who worked in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. They went on to have four children.

She began her long career as an activist for children with disabilities when one of her sons was born with brain damage. She volunteered at the Association for Retarded Children in the 1950’s, served as an advisory board member for the Partridge School for Handicapped Children in Gainesville, Virginia, and edited the newsletter for the Forest Haven Asylum in Laurel, Maryland from 1973-1981. She co-founded with Henriette Zegers, Touch Toys, a business that makes surgical dolls for children and toys for people with visual impairment and developmental disabilities, in 1972. She served on the D.C. Developmental Disabilities State Planning Council from 1990 to 2002. She co-wrote "Selected Reading Suggestions for Parents of Mentally Retarded Children," for the Child Development Office of the Health, Education and Welfare Department.

Other activities included serving as the publicity chairman for the Washington League of Women Shoppers in the early 1940’s, and writing for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Statistical Association, and the World Bank from 1942 to 1952.

She knew Alger Hiss and her diaries were subpoenaed by Joseph McCarthy to support his contention that certain social events she attended were actually meetings for Communist-front organizations. Timberg died on May 23, 2002 in Washington, D.C..


8.688 linear feet (10 containers)


Editor; Activist for children with disabilities; Secretary; Volunteer. The papers consist of diaries that span the years from 1930-94 (early diaries include material from her Smith College days) and Touch Toy company's semi-annual newsletters from the years 1977-97.


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 papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Eleanor Ernst Timberg in 1997, Bernard Timberg from 2002 to 2008, and Roz Timberg in 2009.

Processing Information

Processed in 1997.

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. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.



Finding Aid to the Eleanor Ernst Timberg papers
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 (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-11-01: Added .5 page paper box inventory

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063