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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1107

Records of the Beacon Hill Reading Group, 1957-2020


Reading lists, discussion questions and papers, membership lists and related materials of the Beacon Hill Reading Group.


  • 1957-2020

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Beacon Hill Reading Group is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3 linear feet (3 cartons)

Collection includes by-laws; anniversary books; membership and reading lists; a history of the group; correspondence; discussion leaders' papers and related questions; photographs; and printed material.

The collection arrived with most of the material in labeled folders. The archivist kept material in the original folders and foldered and labeled the remaining loose material. Folder titles created by the archivist appear in square brackets.


The Beacon Hill Reading Group was established by Radcliffe College graduate Connaught O'Connell Mahony and University of Michigan graduate Barbara Moore in 1957. Their goal was to start a reading group modeled on college seminars they had attended and enjoyed. More than fifty women have participated in the group, which remains active as of 2020 and holds a formal anniversary dinner every five years. Most of the group's members live in the Boston, Massachusetts, Beacon Hill neighborhood. Each month, members read an agreed-upon book, with one member assigned the role of discussion leader and another member acting as host. The leader prepares questions about the book and sends them to members about a week before they meet to discuss the work. She also prepares a paper which she presents to the group. The first year, the group read books on Harvard University's list of great books. They continued to study American literature for the next three years, later studying the literature of other countries including England, France, Germany, Spain, Cuba, and Uruguay. In addition to their readings, the group visits museums and views films to augment their understanding of the country and culture being studied.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2020-M96

The records of the Beacon Hill Reading Group were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Beacon Hill Reading Group in October 2020.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2020

By: Susan Earle.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Radcliffe Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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