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Mary Ellen Chase papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00044

Scope and Contents

The Mary Ellen Chase Papers include biographical material including articles, correspondence, photographs, awards, financial information, reviews and writings. The latter part, which comprises the bulk of the collection, includes Chases's books, articles, and lectures in manuscript, typescript, galley and final published form. Among her books are translations of many of her titles into several languages.

Dates of Materials

  • 1893 - 1995


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

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

Mary Ellen Chase was born on February 24, 1887 in Blue Hill, Maine. Her parents were deeply religious Protestants and Mary Ellen was one of eight children who received a thorough biblical education as well as an academic one. She began writing at the age of sixteen and by her death on July 28, 1973, had published more than thirty essays, novels, and biographies.

At the age of nineteen, Chase took a leave from the University of Maine, where she was enrolled as an undergraduate, in order to teach in a one-room school in Buck's Harbor, Maine. Following her graduation, she taught for three years in Wisconsin at a coeducational boarding school and later for two years at a private girls school in Chicago, Illinois. At that point in time, Chase fell ill and was advised by her doctor that a move to Montana would improve her health. During her time there, Chase taught public school and wrote two novels.

Upon full recovery, Chase took a teaching position at the University of Minnesota where she also studied and earned her MA in 1918 and later her Ph.D. in 1922. In 1926 she was hired by Smith College where she taught courses on the English novel and the King James version of the Bible. During her time at Smith, Chase became respected colleague, teacher, and friend to many. Her courses, taken by English majors and non-English majors alike, were some of the most popular on campus. In addition, Chase's home on Paradise Road became a favorite place for her students to go for good conversation and cookies.

Despite her success as an author, teaching remained her true love throughout her career. She viewed teaching as the main source of meaning in her life. An extremely dedicated professor, Chase believed that "the personality of the teacher is more important than her intellectual attainments" and that "if the teacher has no enthusiasm for teaching and for subject matter, her students will learn little." She was very excited about her field of expertise and hoped to similarly inspire her students.

Mary Ellen Chase has come to be known as one of the great American novelists. Much of her work was inspired by her childhood in Maine and several of her novels are autobiographical. The Goodly Heritage (1932) and A Goodly Fellowship (1939) are about her childhood and how she became a teacher, respectively. Chase also wrote several books for children and more than one of her novels became best-sellers.

Chase's popularity and skill at public speaking earned her many invitations to lecture around the country. She was awarded honorary degrees at the University of Maine, Bowdoin and Colby Colleges, Smith College, and Northeastern University. Her work was also acknowledged by the Women's National Book Association in 1956 when she was awarded the Constance Lindsay Skinner Award.

After her retirement in 1955 at the age of sixty-eight, Chase continued to live on-campus with her long-time companion, Eleanor Duckett, and her dog, Gregory. She spent summers in Maine at her home, "Windswept," and journeyed to England where she took Hebrew classes at Cambridge in order to better understand the Old Testament. She also taught two adult education seminars on the Bible at Radcliffe College. In 1968, Smith College acknowledged her dedication to the students and the College with a new dormitory, The Mary Ellen Chase House.


10.063 linear feet (14 containers)

Language of Materials



Professor of English and novelist. Collection contains biographical material, articles, correspondence, photographs, awards, financial information, reviews, and writings.


This collection is organized into seven series:

  1. Biography
  2. Photographs
  3. Personal Correspondence
  4. Professional Correspondence
  5. Speeches
  6. Publications
  7. Signed Chase Publications and Ephemera

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in the Mary Ellen Chase Papers were given to the College Archives over a period of years between 1973 and 2001 by several donors, including Victor B. Harrison, Elizabeth Jacobsen, Helen K. Mills, Jenny V. Holtzermann, Deborah Wheeler, Professor Chase herself, and by her estate. Additional material was purchased from Lord Durham Rare Books in 2020.

Related Material

  1. 42. Eleanor Shipley Duckett Papers
  2. Mary Ellen Chase Papers, Mortimer Rare Book Collection, Smith College
  3. See card catalogue of the Smith College Archives


  • Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950
  • The Bible and the Common Reader. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1944 (2 copies)
  • The Bible and the Common Reader. Revised edition, 1952
  • Das Buch der Bucher, bie Bibel und der Mensch von Heute. Stuttgart: Hans E. Verlag
  • Constructive Theme Writing for College Freshman. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929
  • Constructive Theme Writing for College Freshman. Revised edition, 1938
  • Dawn in Lyonesse. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938 (3 copies)
  • Dolly Moses: the Cat and the Clam Chowder. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1964
  • The Edge of Darkness. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1957
  • Am Rande der Dunkel-Heit. Munchen: Winkler-Verlag, 1964
  • Prakash-Reka. Bambay: Kailas Prakashan, 1959 (Marathi language) (also in Iranian, Bengali and another language -- possibly Arabic)
  • The Girl from the Big Horn Country. New York: A.L. Burt and Company, 1916
  • The Golden Ass and Other Essays. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929 (2 copies)
  • A Goodly Fellowship. New York: Macmillan and Company, 1939
  • La Joie d'Enseinger. Paris: Bantam Books, 1959
  • La Joie d'Enseinger. Bombay: Nav Lekhan Piublishers, 1962 (Marathi language)
  • La Joie d'Enseinger. Bombay: Ravani Prakashan Griha, n.d. (Gujarati language)
  • La Joie d'Enseinger. Tokyo: Kaitakusha Publishing Co, Ladder Edit., 1964 (in English with Japanese glosses) (also 2 Bengali editions)
  • A Goodly Heritage. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1932
  • Haseen Miras. Lahore, Pakistan: West-Pak Publishing Company, Urdu-Bazar, n.d.
  • Haseen Miras. Madras, India: Kubera Printers, Ltd. 1932
  • A Goodly Heritage. Saigon, 1932
  • His Birthday. Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1915
  • Jonathan Fisher, Maine Pastor. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948 (2 copies)
  • A Journey to Boston. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1965
  • A Journey to Boston. Delhi: Shahazad Book House, 1967 (Urdu languge)
  • Life and Language in the Old Testament. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.1955
  • Life and Language in the Old Testament. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, c.1955
  • Leben und Sprache in Alten Testament. Munchen: Winkler-Verlag, 1957
  • The Lovely Ambition. New York: W.W. Norton and Compnay, Inc. 1960
  • Ambiçao de Amor. Rio de Janiero: Lidador [1960]
  • Ambiçao de Amor. New Delhi: S.R. Suneja Publications, 1967 (Hindi language)
  • Mary Christmas. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1926
  • Mary Peters. New York: Macmillan Company, 1934 (2 copies)
  • Mary Peters. Wein im Phoenix Verlag, c.1946
  • Mary Peters. Bombay: Narayan Puranik, Kailas Prakashan, 1958 (Marathi language)
  • Mary Peters. Augsburg: Manu Verlag, 1947
  • Mary Peters. Allahabad: Desh Sewa Press, 1958 (Hindi language)
  • Look at America: New England. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1947
  • The Plum Tree. New York: Macmillan Company, 1949
  • Der Plaumenbaum/Eine Fahrt Nach Boston. Munchen: Winkler-Verlag, c.1949
  • The Prophets for the Common Reader. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1963
  • Readings from the Bible. New York: Macmillan Company, 1952
  • Richard Mansfield: Prince of Donkeys. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1964
  • Sailing the Seven Seas. New York: Dell, 1967
  • The Story of Lighthouses. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1965
  • Silas Crockett. New York: Macmillan Company, 1935
  • Thomas Hardy from Serial to Novel. New York: Russell and Russell, 1964
  • Thomas Hardy from Serial to Novel. University of Minnesota Press, 1927
  • This England. New York: Macmillan Company, 1936 (2 copies and a foreign language edition, possibly Urdu)
  • Victoria: a Pig in a Pram. New York: W.W. Norton, 1963
  • Virginia of Elk Creek Valley. New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1917
  • Uplands. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1927
  • A Walk on an Iceberg. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1966
  • The White Gate. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1954
  • The White Gate. Maradana, Colombo: Messrs. Gunaratine and Company, n.d. (Sinhalese)
  • Windswept. New York: Macmillan Company, 1941
  • Stormhalen. Uppsala: J.A. Lindblads Forlag, 1943
  • Stormhalen. Armed services edition. Council on Books in Wartime. c. 1941
  • The Woman and the Sea. Tokyo: Kaitakusha, 1965 (in English with Japanese glosses)
  • Squire, Elienne. A Lantern in the Wind. Santa Barbara: Fithian Press, 1995
  • Chase, Evelyn Hyman. Feminist Convert: A Portrait of Mary Ellen Chase. Santa Barbara, CA: J. Daniel, 1988.
  • Chase, Evelyn Hyman. "Mary Ellen Chase and the Incipient Feminist Movement," Smith Alumnae Quarterly (Summer 1987).
  • Hall, Virginia Smith, Down East Today (1938)
  • Kingman, Lee. "Pamela's Socks and the Roman Emperors," Vogue essay contest (date?)
  • Squire, Elienne. "A Famous Author and Teacher," Smith Alumnae Quarterly (Summer 1987).
  • Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Women's National Book Association Records, 1917-1989. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence. There is also correspondence in the Amy Loveman collection.
  • Harvard Divinity School. Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Robert Henry Pfeiffer Papers, 1911-1958. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence.
  • Iowa State University, Library, Special Collections. Frederick William Lorch papers, 1857-1966. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence.
  • Syracuse University, George Arents Research Library for Special Collections. Robert Silliman Hillyer papers, 1902-1963. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence.
  • University of Iowa Libraries. Special Collections Department. Letter to Prof. Grover. Northampton, MA, declining an invitation because of a trip (Nov. 30, 19??).
  • University of Maine. Special Collections. Approximately one inch of "Letters written by Miss Chase to Dr. Hugh Stalker, writings, notebooks, portrait, and clippings" dating from 1940-69. Given by Chase in two accessions, while alive then again from her estate.
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Bentley Historical Library. Frank Addison Manny papers, 1890-1955. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence.
  • University of Minnesota. Manuscripts Division. Prophets for the Common Reader, manuscript, 1962.
  • University of New England. Maine Women Writers Project. Approximately 3 linear feet of "Correspondence, documents, and clippings relating to Miss Chase's publications (1909-1964)". There is also correspondence in the Coatsworth Collection.
  • University of Rochester, Rush Rhees Library, Department of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Archives. Manuscripts Collection Ch - Cl, 1731-1980. Includes M.E. Chase correspondence.
  • Yale University. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Wallace Notestein papers, 1899-1969, and Kathryn Hulme papers, 1846-1981. Both include M.E. Chase correspondence.

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.

Processing Information

Starting in September 2022, Smith College Special Collections will be renumbering many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes will be made in this collection: Accession 2020-A-0018, Box 1 renumbered as Box 4

Finding aid to the Mary Ellen Chase Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Elizabeth Kates
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
  • 2021-02-11: Added Accession 2020-A-0018

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063