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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1037

Rose Standish Nichols correspondence with Garner Ranney, 1878-2019 (inclusive), 1949-1960 (bulk)


Correspondence between landscape architect and pacifist Rose Standish Nichols and Garner Ranney, a State Department employee and archivist who was 50 years her junior.


  • 1878-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1949-1960

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Rose Standish Nichols and Garner Ranney, as well as 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.


6.88 linear feet ((16+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 photograph folder)

The Rose Standish Nichols correspondence with Garner Ranney includes letters between the two from 1942 to Nichols' death in 1960. Some letters include enclosures of clippings, cartoons, and letters from others. Also included are several letters Nichols received earlier in her life, and a tintype of her as a child which she sent to Ranney.

Letters discuss any number of topics, from the international to the domestic. Nichols often discusses her views on United States foreign policy and politics, art, and literature. Nichols also details tea parties, European travels, summers at Rye Beach, New Hampshire. She follows and reports on the exploits of the British royal family, and gossips about friends she and Ranney have in common. Nichols writes about her family members, and her intent to turn her home into a museum. Ranney's letters to Nichols, who he addresses as "Aunt Rose," discuss the physical and mental health of his mother Grace, who was committed to the Westborough State Hospital in Massachusetts, and his difficult feelings about her. Ranney also relates his own poor mental and physical health, social engagements, and travels to New York City and Europe. Ranney wrote three unpublished novels, and his letters often discuss how he is feeling about his writing or how much he has written that day. Nichols and Ranney's relationship evolves over the span of the correspondence to become almost familial, and they sometimes correspond every day or several times a day.

Some envelopes have pencilled descriptions of the contents of letters, some letters have similar pencilled notes, usually full names of those being discussed. These notes appear to have been made by Ranney. Letters between Nichols and Ranney are listed chronologically.


Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960) was a landscape architect, one of the pioneering women in the field. Born in Boston to a prominent family, she lived in the family home on Beacon Hill for nearly her entire life. She studied at Harvard, MIT, and in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She published several books on European garden design, and designed parks and gardens for approximately 70 clients. Nichols was a niece of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and served as his Boston-area agent for many years. Nichols was an officer of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association and a peace activist, helping to found the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom.

Garner Ranney (1919-2001) was born Frederick Garner Ranney, Jr., in Chicago. He lived in England for a number of years as a young adult, and graduated from Harvard University in 1942. Ranney was a Naval Intelligence Officer in London during World War II, and subsequently worked for the United States Department of State until 1951. Ranney left the State Department due to the declining health of his mother (and his own health troubles), and for a time taught at St. John's University in Annapolis, Maryland. Ranney later worked as an archivist or librarian for a number of Baltimore cultural institutions, eventually serving as archivist of the Maryland Episcopal Diocese from 1960 until his death. Ranney's life partner was James Winship Lewis (1908-1991); they met in the summer of 1953 while Ranney working at Littauer Library at Harvard. Lewis, a teacher, musician, and church organist, was director of Baltimore's Handel Choir, to which Ranney belonged.

Rose Standish Nichols and Garner Ranney met in 1942 when Ranney was a student at Harvard. Despite their 50 year age difference, the two struck up a friendship, and corresponded frequently until Nichols's death in 1960. Ranney often visited and vacationed with Nichols, and Jim Lewis would often join them for summer trips to Rye Beach, New Hampshire. Nichols set up a life trust for Ranney in her will.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2019-M203

The Rose Standish Nichols correspondence with Garner Ranney was given to the Schlesinger Library by Robert Schoeberlein in December 2019.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Nichols-Shurtleff family papers (A-170), and Nichols-Shurtleff family additional papers (MC 766).

Processing Information

Processed: January 2020

By: Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Sarah DeRupo

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 Alice Jeanette Ward 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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