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Margaret Storrs Grierson papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00028

Scope and Contents

The Margaret Storrs Grierson papers contain materials related to Mrs. Grierson's career at Smith College as student, professor, college archivist and one of the founders and first director of the Sophia Smith Collection. In addition, there are her historic writings on the Storrs, Cooper, Rankin, Barnes and other related families and documents related to this work. There are biographical items, correspondence (especially with Nina E. Browne and with family members), diaries, financial records, passports, manuscripts, publications, and cap and gown. Also included are photographs of the families as well as correspondence in relationship to Grierson's companion, Marine Leland.

The family papers are a mixture of documents (usually arranged under an individual or family name) and may contain a mixture of materials: historic documents and letters, photographs, printed materials and correspondence that spans from ca. 1800 to 1997. The files are essentially as Mrs. Grierson arranged them; in addition, the files contain correspondence by Mrs. Grierson and to her in her pursuit of documentation on particular family members. Also in the files are notations by Mrs. Grierson on the disposition of some historic documents that were once part of files but were placed in historic archives she deemed a more appropriate location for them to reside.

Dates of Materials

  • 1800 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1918 - 1997


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

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; 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 Smith College, 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

Margaret Storrs was born June 29, 1900 to Lucius S. Storrs and Mary Cooper Storrs in Denver, Colorado. Her mother was the daughter of Job Adams Cooper, governor of Colorado (1889-1891) and had grown up in the whirl of social, business and political life in Denver and Colorado. Mr. Storrs was a business administrator who spent most of his life with rail transportation companies in the United States. The Storrs family was originally from Connecticut.

From the time of her birth until 1907 her family's life centered on Denver, Colorado and Bozeman, Montana. However Mr. Storrs advancement in the rail industry took the family to Boston, Massachusetts in February 1907 with the family eventually living in Brookline by July 1907. They then moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in October 1908, where her brother Lucius S., Jr. was born on December 10, 1910. Another job advancement found the family moving to New Haven, Connecticut in 1911 where her parents remained until after Ms. Storrs had graduated from Smith College. The family traveled frequently to visit the extended family by automobile and railroad, especially visits to Denver, Colorado.

Ms. Storrs entered Smith College in 1918 and graduated A.B. in 1922. She did graduate work at Bryn Mawr College and she studied at University College of the University of London from 1924-1925. From 1925-1930 she taught philosophy at Bryn Mawr while completing her dissertation and graduated with the Ph.D. in 1930.

In 1930 Ms. Storrs returned to Northampton, Massachusetts and by the mid-1930s purchased a home at 66 Massasoit Street that she shared with Marine Leland, who was a member of the Smith College French Department. They shared this house together until Prof. Leland's death in 1983. On December 7, 1938 Ms. Storrs married Sir Herbert Grierson in Edinburgh, Scotland. They returned to Northampton but after February 1939 until Sir Herbert's death in February 1960 they lived apart, however she continued to use the name Mrs. Margaret Storrs Grierson for the remainder of her life.

Upon her return to Smith College in 1930 until 1936 she taught philosophy. In 1940 she was appointed the college archivist and in 1942 she was given the additional duties of executive secretary of the Friends of the Smith College Library. It was as a special project of the Friends that the Sophia Smith Collection came into being. Mrs. Grierson was its first director and held all three of these positions until her retirement in 1965. In her position as head of the Sophia Smith Collection Mrs. Grierson traveled throughout the United States and the world to assemble the manuscript materials that are so important in documenting the history of women.

After her retirement in 1965 Mrs. Grierson turned her attention to an accumulation of papers inherited from her parents related to the history of her family. From the late 1960s through the 1980s Mrs. Grierson sought information on the family and wrote (unpublished) an extensive history of the Storrs family and its ancestors including the Cooper, Rankin and Barnes families. Mrs. Grierson said she was not interested in genealogy but in the documented historical facts of these families, their movements and lives in the United States.

Repeated health problems forced Mrs. Grierson to sell her 66 Massasoit Street home in the early 1990s and she took an apartment on Crescent Street in Northampton where she lived until advanced problems found her in nursing homes. She died on December 12, 1997 at the Linda Manor Extended Care Facility in Leeds, Massachusetts.


8.583 linear feet (7 containers)

Language of Materials



Margaret Storrs Grierson was an alumna of Smith College, Instructor of English and Philosophy, archivist, one of the founders and first director of the Sophia Smith Collection. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence (especially with Nina E. Browne, Marine Leland, and with family members), diaries, financial records, passports, manuscripts, publications and includes historic writings, documents, and photographs on the Storrs, Cooper, Rankin, and Barnes families.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Margaret Storrs Grierson Papers were created and assembled by Mrs. Grierson during her lifetime and donated to the Smith College Archives.

Related Material

  1. Hague, Amy E., "'Never Another Season of Silence': Laying the Foundation of the Sophia Smith Collection, 1942-1965," Revealing Women's Life Stories: Papers from the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Sophia Smith College, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, September 1982. [Northampton, Massachusetts]: Smith College, 1995, p. 9-27.
  2. Lyman, Susan E., "Margaret Storrs Grierson," Smith Alumnae Quarterly 56 (Summer 1965): 212.
  3. Hague, Amy, "Margaret Storrs Grierson, June 29, 1900-December 12, 1997," Imposing Evidence: Newsletter of the Sophia Smith Collection 1 (Feb. 1998): 1.
  4. 10.9 Administrative files, Smith College Archives and Sophia Smith Collection [Portions of these files may be restricted.]
  5. 52. Marine Leland Papers, Smith College Archives

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Margaret Storrs Grierson papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Melvin Carlson, Jr.
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 (
  • 2019-03-13: Updated container information and re-published.
  • 2019-11-22: Added box 7

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063