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Helle collection of Plath family photographs

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MRBC-MS-00273

Scope and Contents

The Helle Collection of Plath Family Photographs was assembled by June Johnson Helle with additions from her mother, Martha Plath Johnson, and her aunt, Frieda Plath Heinrichs, who were sisters of Otto Emil Plath. Some of the photographs were originally sent by Aurelia Plath to her sister-in-laws Frieda Plath Heinrichs and Martha Plath Johnson. June Johnson Helle served as executor for the personal belongings of her mother and aunt Frieda Plath Heinrichs. The photographs are annotated by Otto Plath, Aurelia Schober Plath, Sylvia Plath, and June Johnson Helle.

The collection is arranged as follows:

Series I. Photographs of Otto Plath and Siblings (1910-1930s) contains 8 items. These photographs of Otto Plath and his brother Hugo Plath and sister Frieda Plath are arranged in chronological order.

Series II. Photographs of Sylvia Plath and others (1933-1963) contains 51 items. These photographs of Sylvia Plath, Aurelia Schober Plath, Otto Plath, Warren Plath and their Schober relatives are arranged in chronological order.

Series III. Other photographs contains one postcard of Berck-Plage.

Dates of Materials

  • 1910-1963

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

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

Otto Emil Plath (1885-1940) was a German instructor and biology professor at Boston University, 1922-1940. Born in Grabow, Germany, on April 13, 1885, to Theodore and Ernestine Kottke Platt, he was the eldest of six children. Otto Plath was educated at Northwestern College, Wisconsin (A.B., 1910), University of Washington (M.A., 1912), Harvard University (M.S., 1925; Sc.D., 1928). In 1932 he married Aurelia Frances Schober (1906-1994) who later became an associate professor in the College of Practical Arts and Letters at Boston University, 1942-1971.

They lived at 24 Prince Street, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, until 1936 when the family moved to 92 Johnson Avenue, Winthrop, Massachusetts, to be near Aurelia's parents-Frank Schober (1880-1965) and Aurelia Greenwood Schober (1887-1956)-and Aurelia's siblings Dorothy Schober Benotti (1911-1981) and Frank Richard Schober (1919- ). Otto Plath died on November 5, 1940 from complications of diabetes.

Otto and Aurelia Schober Plath had two children: Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) and Warren Joseph Plath (1935- ). In 1942, Aurelia Plath moved to 26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her daughter, son, and her parents.

Sylvia Plath graduated from Smith College (B.A., 1955) and Newnham College, Cambridge (M.A., 1957). Warren Plath graduated from Harvard College (A.B. 1957) and Harvard University (Ph.D., 1964). He was a Fulbright student at the University of Bonn, 1957-1958.

On June 16, 1956, 1956, Sylvia Plath married English poet Ted Hughes (1930-1998). Plath and Hughes honeymooned in Benidorm, Spain, visiting Paris en route where they met Warren Plath. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had two children: Frieda Rebecca Hughes (1960- ) and Nicholas Farrar Hughes (1962- ). Frieda Hughes was born on April 1, 1960 at home at 3 Chalcot Square in London near Primrose Hill. Nicholas Hughes was born on January 17, 1962 at home at Court Green in North Tawton, Devonshire, England. Before her death on February 11, 1963, Plath published The Colossus & Other Poems and her novel The Bell Jar. Her Collected Poems, published posthumously in 1981, won the Pulitzer Prize.


0.438 linear feet (1 container)


This collection of Plath family photographs includes photographs of Otto Plath and his siblings, of Aurelia Schober Plath, Warren and Sylvia Plath and various other Schober relatives.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. Series I. Photographs of Otto Plath and Siblings, 1910-1930s
  2. Series II. Photographs of Sylvia Plath and others, 1933-1963
  3. Series III. Other photographs, n.d.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Plath Family Photographs were donated by Anita Helle, daughter of June Johnson Helle, to the Mortimer Rare Book Collecion in 2006.

Related Materials

Related materials can be found in these other repositories: Sylvia Plath Collection, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; Ted Hughes Papers, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Processing Information

Processed by Karen Kukil, 2006

Helle collection of Plath Family Photographs.
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Karen V. Kukil.
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 (

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063