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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."

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]

Dates of Materials

  • 1878 - 1991


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Researchers must sign an Access Agreement Form, agreeing to protect confidentiality, before using this collection.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections ( at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

The material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights for permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Permission must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

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.


7 boxes (8 linear feet)


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 and may not be reflected in this record.
Townsend-O'Brien-Hoffheimer family papers
Finding Aid
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.

Repository Details

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

Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063