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Constance Carrier papers

Identifier: MRBC-MS-00032

Scope and Contents

The Constance Carrier Papers consist of 27 linear ft. and are primarily related to her professional and personal life, dating from 1849 to 2008 (bulk 1900-1990). Types of materials include correspondence, speeches, legal documents, photographs, drafts of Carrier’s poetry and translations from the Latin and her published works, press releases, reports, journal and newspaper articles, transcripts of interviews, and memorabilia. The papers also contain some items related to the Carrier family history, most particularly the diaries of Carrier’s paternal grandmother Roxy Merva Brainard Carrier Wickwire (d. 1947). Also included are recordings made by Carrier and Rolfe Humphries reading their poems. Anyone working with these papers will find that Carrier wrote poetry in notebooks on various topics, in journals, and even on letters received from other individuals. Notable correspondents include: Thomas Carrier Block, Louise Bogan, Varujan Boghosian, Palmer Bovie, Sidney L. Eaton, John Holmes, Rolfe Humphries, Susan Knowles, Kathryn (Kay) Martin, Lawrence A. Schafer, Alan Swallow, Mark and Dorothy Van Doren and Marilyn J. Ziffrin.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1801 - 2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1990


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. 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. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Constance Carrier, 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 poet Constance Carrier, a member of the Smith College Class of 1929, was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on July 29, 1908 to Lucius and Lillian (Jost) Carrier. She attended the local public schools. Upon graduation from Smith she was offered a position in the New Britain High School to teach English literature. The principal asked her to teach French and given it was the depression, she could not refuse, she recalled in an article in the New Britain Herald (April 2, 1973). Later she also began to teach Latin and “discovered that I loved it.” During this early period at the New Britain High School she continued her education at Trinity College, Hartford, where she earned a master’s degree in English in 1940.

It was while at Trinity College that she began to write poetry in earnest. Later upon request from classicist Smith Palmer Bovie, she started translating some of the Latin classics into English. While continuing to teach, it was her writing of poetry and her translation work that formed her contribution to American letters. She was an instructor in classics for summer workshops at Tufts University (1966-1976) and at Suffield Academy.

In the mid-1940s she was the recipient of awards for her poetry from the Poetry Society of America. Carrier was awarded the first Lamont prize in poetry in 1954, and through the years was the recipient of other poetry prizes. Carrier had fellowships at the Bread Loaf School, The Writers’ Conference at the University of New Hampshire (1940s), the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo in Saratoga, New York (1975 and 1978).

Carrier’s poems were published in various journals and newspapers, including The New Yorker, American Scholar, The Nation, Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry and the Christian Science Monitor. Two major books of poetry were published: The Middle Voice (1955) and The Angled Road (1973). Many of her poems were also anthologized in various books and textbooks of American poetry and literature.

Carrier’s translations include plays by Plautus and Terence and the poems of Propertius and Tibullus. She also contributed to: Esopus Hodie: Aesop Today: A Reader Workbook for Latin Students (1984-1990). Dorothy McLaren wrote the lessons for Latin study and Carrier translated the Aesop verses into succinct English poems.

Carrier taught Latin, French and English at New Britain High School and at Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut between 1931 and 1970. Among her activities in New Britain was her leadership of a writing group for many years.

Based on the letters and notes Carrier received during her lifetime, it is clear she had a wide circle of friends and admirers. Carrier continued to be in contact with some of her high school students. Admiring letters and notes came from fans of her poetry, including letters from American soldiers during World War II. The letters she received reflect friendships made at Smith College and Trinity College, as well as friendships begun with other writers and artists. Some friendships and the resulting correspondence apparently came from chance meetings with individuals during her travels to Europe.

Carrier wrote frequently to friends—often on note cards, postcards or scraps of paper—in her small but legible written script. She could write almost an entire letter on a US postal card and often used a portion of the front side of the postcard to finish her text. Her correspondence is rarely dated, but postmarks serve as a guide for when the item was written.

The drafts of her poetry are usually in her extremely small but legible written script and in her typed copies. Carrier often wrote on any scrap of paper available—backs of envelopes, bills of sale, hotel stationery—and in various notebooks. She also kept detailed journals when she traveled to Europe.

One of the last literary endeavors Carrier undertook was to proof read the manuscript of Marilyn J. Ziffrin’s book, Carl Ruggles: Composer, Painter, and Storyteller (1994) before it went to the publisher. Waldemar Block in a note records that Carrier “would go through each chapter automatically as it was presented to her, lay it aside when she was finished and perhaps go on to doing a crossword puzzle for the N.Y. Times (in ink). When Marilyn wanted the proof sheets back, Jeanne LaRocque or Barbara [Block] would have to sift through her papers to find the wanted items.” Jeanne LaRocque was a long-time friend of Carrier’s and fellow-teacher (French) at New Britain High School; Barbara (Carrier) Block is a cousin.

Constance Carrier died in New Britain, Connecticut, on December 7, 1991. She is buried in Ponemah Cemetery in North Westchester, Conn.

A celebration of the life and work of Constance Carrier was held at the New Britain Public Library on November 22, 2008 to mark the hundredth anniversary year of her birth.

Barbara Block noted that Carrier was quite eccentric in her speech and dress. She was very frugal, with a charming personality and well liked. Carrier had a way with words and wrote jingles, birth announcements, retirement accolades and epitaphs. She particularly like to prowl old cemeteries. One demonstration of her use of humor was in her misuse of words, as when she asked Waldemar Block to “be her executioner,” instead of the executor of her estate.


23.979 linear feet (55 containers)

Language of Materials



Constance Carrier, a member of the Smith College Class of 1929, was an American poet. The Constance Carrier Papers consist of 27 linear ft. and are primarily related to her professional and personal life, dating from 1849 to 2008 (bulk 1900-1990). The papers are arranged in 11 series.


The papers are arranged in 11 series:












Immediate Source of Acquisition

The largest portion of the Constance Carrier papers were a gift from Carrier’s niece Barbara Carrier Block and her husband Waldemar Block after the death of Constance Carrier and given in memory of Constance Carrier (1908-1991, Smith College Class of 1929). The bulk of the papers were gifted by the Blocks to the Mortimer Rare Book Room in March 2002 with additions to the collection from them in June 2003 and in 2014. Thomas Carrier Block also contributed additional Carrier materials in 2014.

In 1969 Constance Carrier gave the Sophia Smith College and College Archives manuscript materials for her translation of The Poems of Propertius (published in 1963), letters to and from Palmer Bowie who wrote the introduction, notes and glossary to these poetic translations. These items were transferred from the Sophia Smith College to the Mortimer Rare Book Room in 1993.

In 1993 Doris Cook (Smith College Class of 1933) gifted the Mortimer Rare Book Room with Carrier’s correspondence (1974-1989) to Cook.

In 2002 Marilyn J. Ziffrin gifted the Mortimer Rare Book Room with the correspondence she received from Constance Carrier (1969-1992) and the letters Kathryn Martin (1970-1983) had received from Carrier.

In 2010 Eleanor Panysh Fusaro gifted the Mortimer Rare Book Room with notes she received from Carrier and some ephemera related to Carrier. Fusaro was a Latin student of Carrier at the New Britain High School and graduated from Smith College, Class of 1952.

Related Materials

Lee Anderson papers. Located at: Washington University of St. Louis Libraries.

Louise Bogan papers. Located at: Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.

Nancy Hale papers. Located at: University of Virginia Library.

Finding aid to Constance Carrier papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Melvin Carlson Jr.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063