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Ruth Frances Woodsmall papers

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00175

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

  • 1863-1968

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

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The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to Ruth Woodsmall's unpublished writings.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.

Extent

92 boxes (34 linear feet)

Abstract

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.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into seven series:

  1. I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
  2. II. BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MATERIALS
  3. III. CORRESPONDENCE
  4. IV. WRITINGS AND SPEECHES
  5. VI. PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
  6. V. MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS
  7. PHOTOGRAPHS
  8. OVERSIZE MATERIALS

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

Related Materials

Additional Woodsmall material can be found in the Records of the Y.W.C.A. and High Commissioner for Germany (Women's Affairs Branch) both located in the Sophia Smith Collection.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Susan Boone, 2010

Title
Ruth Frances Woodsmall papers
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Finding aid prepared by Susan Boone.
Date
2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 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.

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063