Ruth Frances Woodsmall papers
Scope and Contents
The Ruth Frances Woodsmall Papers consist of thirty-four linear feet of material dating from 1863 to 1968. Types of material include diaries, personal and professional correspondence, research notes and interviews, publications, speeches, reports, photographs, sound recordings, and memorabilia. Extensive correspondence with family and contacts around the world provide insight into Woodsmall's life and work and reflect the status of women in the Middle and Far East as well as post-war (World Wars I and II) conditions in Europe. There is an extensive record of her work for the YWCA (l9l7-1948) and as Chief of Women's Affairs for the US High Commissioner for Occupied Germany (HICOG) (l945-l959. These document her work in Europe during and after World War I and post World War II Germany. They reflect HICOG work with German women to prepare them for citizenship and leadership in postwar Germany and the problems of displaced and refugee populations. The field surveys of the Balkans and the Near East as well as surveys of migration conditions in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Belgium are of particular interest as well as research notes and reports on the conditions of women compiled for the World YWCA.
From October 1931 to January 1932 Woodsmall served on the Commission on Christian Education in Japan and there is correspondence, interviews, meeting reports, proposals, questionnaires documenting this work. There is correspondence, schedules, interviews and reports resulting from her work with the Laymen's Foreign Mission Inquiry and the Baptist Home Mission Study. In addition there is extensive source material on women in the Near and Middle East, and (to a lesser extent) Europe and the Far East, gathered by Woodsmall in support of her publications: Eastern Women, Today and Tomorrow (1933); Moslem Women Enter a New World (1936); and Women and the New East (1960). In addition, there is a substantial collection of photographs of women from around the world during the first half of the twentieth century.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1863-1968
- Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963 (Person)
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The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to Ruth Woodsmall's unpublished writings. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Ruth Woodsmall 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.
Biographical / Historical
Ruth Frances Woodsmall was born in Atlanta, Georgia, September 20, 1883, the youngest of three children of Harrison S. Woodsmall, a lawyer and teacher, and Mary Elizabeth Howes, an art teacher. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and attended local schools. She received her A.B. from the University of Nebraska in 1905 and her A.M. from Wellesley in 1906. From 1906 to 1917 she worked as a high school English teacher and principal in Nevada and Colorado. Beginning in 1917 and for the next 30 years (with the exception of 1928-32) Woodsmall held various positions with the National and World YWCA. As a member of the National Board of the YWCA of the United States, she worked with the War Work Council directing Hostess Houses in the United States and France during World War I. From 1918 to 1920 she did post war work and field studies of the Baltic and Balkan countries. In 1920 Woodsmall became executive secretary of the Near and Middle East, a post she held until 1928. In 1928 she received a traveling fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to conduct a study of the changing status of Moslem women in the Middle East. Her 1930 report was later published in 1936 as Moslem Women Enter a New World. In 1930 Woodsmall participated in the Laymen's Foreign Mission Inquiry, an independent ecumenical project of the Protestant churches to assess missionaries' record in converting non-western populations. Her Eastern Women Today and Tomorrow (1933) contained the results of this project. In 1932 Woodsmall returned to the YWCA as staff specialist for the National Board, and in 1935 she became General Secretary for the World YWCA, a post she held until 1947. Between 1947 and 1948 she did special service for the YWCA in Japan.
In 1949 Woodsmall became Chief of the Women's Affairs Section of the U.S. High Commission for Occupied Germany, a position she held until 1952. She was appointed by the Department of State to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women for two sessions in 1949 and 1952. In 1951 she was a member of the UNESCO Working Party on the Equality of Access of Women to Education. In the years following her retirement she continued her research and writings, updating her earlier research in Study of the Role of Women, Their Activities and Organizations in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria (1955) and Women and the New East (1960). She died in New York City on May 25, 1963.
For additional biographical information, see "Ruth Frances Woodsmall" in American National Biography (Oxford University Press, 1998) and Notable American Women: the Modern Period (volume IV), Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1980.
39.125 linear feet (94 containers)
The papers provide insight into the life and work of Ruth Woodsmall, an international women's rights advocate, overseas official for the Young Women's Christian Association, and author. Her papers also reflect the status of women in the Middle and Far East as well as post-war (World Wars I and II) conditions in Europe. Woodsmall was an International There is an extensive record of her work for the World YWCA (l9l7-1948) and as Chief of Women's Affairs for the US High Commissioner for Occupied Germany (HICOG) (l945-l959). Field surveys of the Balkans and the Near East and surveys of migration conditions in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Belgium are of particular interest as well as research notes and reports on the conditions of women compiled for the World YWCA. Also documented is Woodsmall's work for the Commission on Christian Education in Japan; the Laymen's Foreign Mission Inquiry; and the Baptist Home Mission Study. In addition there is extensive source material on women in the Near and Middle East, and (to a lesser extent) Europe and the Far East, gathered by Woodsmall in support of her publications. There is also a large collection of photographs of women from around the world during the first half of the twentieth century.
This collection is organized into six series:
- I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
- II. BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MATERIALS
- III. CORRESPONDENCE
- IV. WRITINGS AND SPEECHES
- VI. PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
- V. MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS
- VI. PHOTOGRAPHS
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Ruth Woodsmall Papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by her niece, Marlen Eldredge Neumann, between 1962 and 1995.
Existence and Location of Copies
Selected documents and images from the Woodsmall papers can be viewed online in the Web exhibit:"An Ever-Widening Circle of Friendship":YWCA Overseas Secretaries from China to Liberia: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/ywca-os/ywca-home.html
Reprocessed by Susan Boone, 2010
- United States. Office of High Commissioner for Germany (Organization)
- World's Young Women's Christian Association (Organization)
- Neumann, Marlen Eldredge (Person)
- Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963 (Person)
- United States. Office of High Commissioner for Germany. Women's Affairs Branch (Organization)
- Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963 -- Women and the new East (Person)
- Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963 -- Moslem Women Enter A New World (Person)
- Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963 -- Eastern Women Today And Tomorrow (Person)
- Neumann, Marlen Eldredge (Donor, Person)
Genre / Form
- Business records
- International cooperation
- Muslim women
- Women -- East Asia -- 20th century
- Women -- Germany -- 20th century
- Women -- India -- 20th century
- Women -- Latin America -- 20th century
- Women -- Middle East
- World War, 1914-1918 -- War work -- Young Women's Christian associations
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Women -- Personal narratives
- Young Women's Christian associations
- Young Women's Christian associations -- Middle East
- Ruth Frances Woodsmall papers
- Finding Aid
- Finding aid prepared by Susan Boone.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2017-07-26T17:48:20-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2022-03-03: Integrated description of oversized materials
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063