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Mina Kirstein Curtiss Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00047

Scope and Contents

The papers contain biographical information, correspondence, examinations, lectures, publications and student papers of Mina Kirstein Curtiss documenting her career as a professor of English at Smith College.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1915 - 1983
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1918-1945


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

Mina Kirstein was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1896 and spent her childhood growing up in Rochester, New York, with her parents, Louis E Kirstein, a merchant, her mother Rose Stein and brothers Lincoln and George Kirstein. In 1912 the family returned to Boston where her father was the director of Filene's department store. Mina was educated at home and came to Smith College where in 1918 she received a B.A. In 1920 she was awarded the M.A. from Columbia University. She returned to Smith College to teach English and remained here until 1934. Between 1935 and 1938 she worked for the Mercury Theatre of the Air in New York City, with Orson Welles and John Houseman, as a researcher and promoter of the theatre. She continued to write throughout her career, publishing a book about her marriage and the early death of her husand Henry Tomlinson Curtiss in 1927 called The Midst of Life. She wrote several radio programs in the 1930s, translated Proust, and wrote a biography of Georges Bizet in the 1940s. A visit to Russia in 1962 resulted in a biography of the Russian ballerina Anna Ivanovna. In the 1970s she wrote Other People's Letters: A Memoir which chronicled her interest in Proust. She supplemented her craft of writing with book reviews and editorials for newspapers. She returned to teach at Smith College in the early 1940s, then again as a visiting lecturer, giving courses in the art of biography.

She was an Associate Professor of English at Smith between 1920-1934, left the College only to return to teach between 1940-1945. She was a Visiting Professor of English Language and Literature in 1976.

Mina Kirstein Curtiss was 89 years old when she died in Bridgeport, Connecticut on October 31, 1985 after a long illness.


2.771 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



Class of 1918, Professor of English, author. Collection contains biographical material, correspondence, examinations, lectures, publications, and student papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mina Kirstein Curtiss, 1947-1965. Some material may be from other sources.

Related Material

  1. Class of 1918 Records
  2. Mina Kirstein Curtiss Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

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 Mina Kirstein Curtiss Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca47 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-02: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063