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Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer family papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00302

Scope and Contents

The Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer Family Collection consists primarily of correspondence between these three generations of women and other family. Two-thirds of the collection consists of letters from Margaret O'Brien Townsend (I) and the remaining third is composed of letters from her daughter, Charlotte Townsend O'Brien. There are letters from Smith College and some diaries are also document Smith years for both mother and daughter. Margaret Townsend O'Brien's I's letters discuss daily boarding school life and close relationships with female classmates. Other subjects discussed include Margaret Townsend O'Brien's bout with serious illness when she was young; Margaret II's career as a professor of languages; and Charlotte Townsend O'Brien Hoffheimer's army experiences. The letters are rich in detail about personal development, family life, and similar subjects. Charlotte Townsend O'Brien suggested that "her greatest historical accomplishment, like her mother's, was probably the private transmission of a cultured, reverent view of nature to the younger generation."

Dates of Materials

  • 1878 - 1991


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use with the following restrictions on access:

At the direction of the donor, this collection is available for research use with the condition that researchers must sign an access agreement agreeing to protect confidentiality prior to use. Please consult with special collections staff at to begin this process.

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

The Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer Family Papers include material from Charlotte Townsend (?-1926); Margaret Townsend O'Brien (1889-1961); Charlotte Townsend O'Brien Hoffheimer (1919-1991); and Margaret Townsend O'Brien II (1917- ). Of these three generations of women, two generations were Smith students. After their Smith graduations Margaret Townsend O'Brien II earned a Ph.D. from Harvard and taught languages and Charlotte Townsend O'Brien Hoffheimer served as a WAC officer in World War II, deciphering Japanese code. The collection also includes two generations of naturalists and two interfaith marriages (Margaret Townsend O'Brien married an Irish Catholic and Charlotte Townsend O'Brien Hoffheimer married a Jewish man). Charlotte Townsend O'Brien Hoffheimer volunteered for numerous social and civil organizations.


8.021 linear feet (8 containers)


Professor, languages; Naturalist; Civic volunteer; Army Intelligence officer, World War II; Author; Teacher. The Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer Family papers consists primarily of correspondence between these three generations of women and other family; diaries of Smith College years for both mother and daughter.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer Family was donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Michael H. Hoffheimer in 1994.


Periodic additions to collection are expected.

Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer family papers
Finding Aid
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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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.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063