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Katherine Thompson Cowen papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00387

Scope and Contents

The collection contains both the student and professional papers of Katharine Thompson Cowen. One photo album from Cowen's time as a Smith student dates from 1916-1920. The collection also contains photographs of Cowen as General Secretary, correspondence about her retirement in 1964, news clippings featuring her professional responsibilities, obituaries, and a scrapbook containing memorabilia and clippings dating from 1941 - 1950.

Dates of Materials

  • 1899 - 1980
  • Majority of material found within 1916 - 1980


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

Katharine Thompson was born on March 22, 1899 to Walter and Pearl Thompson in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Smith College in 1920, she married Clifford P. Cowen. Their three daughters all later attended Smith College: Mary Cowen Jeton (Class of 1950), Jane Cowen Pafford (Class of 1953), and Katharine Cowan Weldon (Class of 1955).

She was the President of the Philadelphia Smith Club and served on the Board of Directors for the Alumnae Association. During World War II she worked with the Civilian Defense Volunteer Office and was awarded the title of Lieutenant General of the Pennsylvania Blue Star Brigade. In 1950, Cowen was appointed the position of General Secretary of the Alumnae Association. Between 1950 and her retirement in 1964, she tripled the balance of the Alumnae Fund.

After her retirement Cowen remained active in education. She consulted for alumnae associations across the country, worked on the Clarke School for the Deaf capital fund, and later became the Director of Development for the prestigious Madeira School (1966 - 1968). She also volunteered at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Hampshire County United Way, and Zonta International. She died in her home on January 21, 1980, survived by her three daughters and 11 grandchildren.


0.229 linear feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



Alumna. General Secretary of Alumnae Association. Contains a photograph album documenting the student life of Katherine Cowen as well as photographs, correspondence, news clippings, and a scrapbook relating to her professional life.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

Processing Information

Madison White, Class of 2016; Elizabeth Carron, Archives Specialist

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 Katherine Thompson Cowen papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by Madison White, Elizabeth Carron.
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 (
  • 2018-11-02: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of College Archives survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063