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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 807: T-509: DVD-111

Additional papers of Vilma R. Hunt, 1836-2013 (inclusive), 1940-2005 (bulk)


Correspondence, writings, speeches, appointment books, meeting minutes, audiocassettes, DVDs, and electronic records of Vilma Hunt, dentist, scientist, researcher, writer, environmental activist, and feminist. Some material related to her husband, Edward Eyre Hunt, and his family, is also included.


  • Creation: 1836-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Vilma R. Hunt 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.


31.69 linear feet ((76 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 4 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 20 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 2 folio+ photograph folders, 5 audiotapes, 6 mini audiocassettes, 4 DVDs)

These additional papers of Vilma Hunt document her personal and professional life, and include her curricula vitae; passports and other travel documents; articles about Hunt, including obituaries; appointment books; correspondence; speeches; conference and workshop materials; research notes; articles; book manuscripts and play drafts; photographs; audiotapes; and DVDs. The collection also includes committee and organizational records documenting her involvement in the field of industrial hygiene and her participation in environmental, labor, and feminist organizations, including the Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste, Coalition of Labor Union Women, and the Women's Equity Action League. The collection also includes a considerable amount of material (correspondence, schoolwork, writings, oral histories, and photographs) pertaining to Hunt's husband, Edward Eyre Hunt Jr., his parents Edward Eyre Hunt Sr., and Virginia Lloyd Fox Hunt, his sister Virginia "Bayster" Hunt Wedgwood, his maternal aunt, Louise Fox Connell; and other members of the Hunt and Fox families, as well as material pertaining to genealogical research on the Fox, Herrick, and Bledsoe (ancestors of Virginia Fox Hunt) families. The collection includes a large quantity of letters that were originally loose, many of which were signed only with a first name, or by a term of endearment; the processor attempted to identify the writers but this was not always possible. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this collection. The bulk of the folder titles were created by the archivist; Hunt's original titles, when used, appear in quotation marks. Additional material received in 2020 (accession number 2020-M18) was added to the collection in February 2020. These materials are housed in #76.1-76.9. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1926-2013 (#1.1-14.9, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2), includes appointment books (a complete run from 1979 to 2001, as well as a few earlier and later); versions of Hunt's curricula vitae and articles about her (including several stressing her successful balancing of career and motherhood); awards, honors, and tributes to her; educational material ranging from high school to courses taken as part of Harvard University's Learning in Retirement program; financial material; Hunt's will and the will of her husband Edward Eyre Hunt; material related to Hunt's emigration from Australia; clippings about Hunt's engagement and marriage to Edward Eyre Hunt, as well as their marriage certificate and a program for the ceremony; passports and other travel documents, including family correspondence from Hunt's trip to Russia in the 1960s with her two oldest children, Margaret and William. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, FAMILY, 1836-2010 (#14.10-33.16, 76.1-76.9, FD.2, F+D.3m), documents other members of the Hunt and Fox families. The bulk of the series relates to Vilma's husband, Edward Eyre Hunt Jr., and includes his correspondence with his parents. Letters from Edward Hunt Sr. often included advice to his son on how to conduct himself at boarding school, at Harvard, and while serving in the Air Force during World War II, as well as Edward Sr.'s views on world events. Following Edward's marriage in 1952, many of Virginia Fox Hunt's letters are addressed to both Edward and Vilma. The series also includes letters Edward Eyre Hunt received from his children; his sister, Virginia Hunt Wedgwood (known as "Bay" or "Bayster") and her husband Ralph "Bim" Wedgwood; his grandmother, Juliet Davis Hunt; his aunt, Louise Fox Connell; and letters sent to Hunt by a girlfriend, Mary Ellen Weiss, during his military service; many of these letters are signed "Y.M." ("Your Mary"). In February 2020 Edward's letters to Weiss, as well as some additional letters from Weiss to Edward, were added to the collection as #76.1-76.9. Topics discussed include politics; literature; Edward's experiences while stationed in Hawaii; Weiss's studies at Radcliffe College; movies seen and books read; and difficulties in their relationship. Edward's last letter acknowledges Weiss's engagement to another man. Relatively few other letters sent by Edward are included in the series. The series also includes articles about Edward, as well as his autobiographical writings and other writings by him; scrapbook materials including report cards and letters; and travel diaries for trips the Hunt family took in 1933. Of particular note are the clippings, correspondence, and meeting minutes documenting Edward's participation in the 1963 March on Washington for Peace and Freedom.

Also included are writings by Edward Hunt Sr. including writings on World War I, a report on economic conditions in Venezuela in 1940, an essay on traveling with children, an address he made to the League of Women Voters on economic conditions in 1931, and several drafts of "A Letter to My Son," an essay in which he expresses his hopes and fears for the world in which his son will live. Vilma and Edward's children's correspondence with their maternal grandparents Margaret and William Dalton-Webb and paternal grandmother Louise Fox Hunt is also included, as well as genealogical material, oral histories, autograph albums, essays, correspondence, diaries, and obituaries for various members of the Fox and Hunt families, as well as Edward Eyre Hunt Sr.'s assessment of several members of his extended family (#25.5 Edward Eyre Hunt: grant study). Also included is material on Simon Kenton Farm, a farm in Ohio formerly owned by the Hunt family. The series is arranged alphabetically by family member. For Vilma Hunt's correspondence with family members, see Series III.

Series III, CORRESPONDENCE, 1947-2012 (#33.17-55.4), includes Hunt's correspondence with family members, friends, and colleagues. Extensive correspondence with her father, William Dalton-Webb, is included, as well as correspondence with her children, husband, sister, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, grandchildren, and other family members. Hunt's correspondence with Edward Eyre Hunt provides a revealing look at their close relationship. Letters from the 1950s and 1960s often focus on the Hunt children's activities and education, with some letters from Margaret describing her experiences at a Dutch Quaker boarding school. Other topics include Hunt's research activities and her work with the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union, and at Pennsylvania State University. (For related material, see Series IV.) Birthday and Christmas cards are also included. The series is arranged with alphabetical correspondence appearing first, followed by a chronological arrangement. Some correspondents appear in both groups.

Series IV, PROFESSIONAL, 1934-2005 (#55.5-72.11, F+D.4, OD.1, SD.1), documents Hunt's professional life and includes correspondence; committee minutes; speeches; reports; articles and manuscripts drafts; and research notes. The series includes material related to her work for the Environmental Protection Agency, much of it connected to a trip to the People's Republic of China headed by Hunt and a related trip to the US made by a group of Chinese scientists. Hunt's recollections of this trip are of particular note. The series also includes grant applications, and correspondence regarding Hunt's fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study, which enabled her to work at the Harvard School of Public Health and effectively jump start her career as a scientist. Hunt's 1987 responses to a questionnaire about Radcliffe's fellowship program provide a revealing look at her life and career. Also included are speeches Hunt gave at venues ranging from college graduations to meetings of the American Anthropological Association. Speech topics include "Working Women: A Population at Risk," "Reproductive Toxicology," and "Health, Nutrition, and Work Capacity of Pregnant Women." The series also includes correspondence, lecture notes, and meeting minutes related to Hunt's teaching career at Endicott Junior College, Pennsylvania State University, and Yale University. Material related to Pennsylvania State University includes student's requests for letters of recommendation, grant applications, letters documenting Hunt's promotions to associate and full professor, and correspondence and meeting minutes for the American Association of University Professors Committee W, which focused on issues dealt with by female faculty members. The series also includes statements and testimony by Hunt in legal cases involving workers' rights and reproductive health, and notes and research material on polonium, tobacco, and radiation. Also included are writings by Hunt, among them articles she co-wrote with Edward Radford and others, and drafts, correspondence, and background material on the book The Uranium Merchants, on which she worked for several years before her death. The series also includes material on her play, The Manhattan Uranium Connection, which focused on Boris and Alexander Pregel, Russian brothers who played pivotal roles in the development of the atomic bomb. The series is arranged alphabetically, with the exception of speeches, which are arranged chronologically therein. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this series.

Series V, ACTIVISM, 1970-2006 (#72.12-75.5), contains correspondence; meeting agendas and minutes; and reports for several advisory boards and community groups on which Hunt served, including the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (formerly the Citizens' Clearing House for Hazardous Waste), which she helped establish in 1981. Other organizations represented here include the New England Consortium Work Environment Laboratory, part of a national program established after the ratification of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) to provide health and safety training to hazardous waste workers. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND AUDIOVISUAL, ca.1860-ca.2010 (#PD.1-PD.23, T-509.1 - T-509.11, DVD-111.1 - DVD-111.4), includes images of Hunt her husband and children, and her parents-in-law. The series also contains a considerable number of photographs of other members of the Hunt and Fox families, including siblings of Edward Eyre Hunt Sr. and Virginia Fox Hunt, and earlier generations of Hunt and related families. Also included are an interview with Edward Hunt Sr. on the State Department's Protective Services Department, and recordings of a scientific meeting attended by Vilma, her reminiscences about her former dental practice partner, and an oral history interview she conducted with a member of the Fox family. The series also contains DVDs of an oral history interview in which Vilma's brother-in-law, Francis "Darcy" Tilbrook, describes his experiences in Borneo and Vietnam as part of the Royal Australian Regiment. The series is arranged by format and thereunder chronologically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Vilma Rose Hunt was born on November 15, 1926, in Sydney, Australia, the daughter of Margaret Rose (Lynch or McDonald) and William Dalton-Webb. She had one younger sister, Yvonne. Her father was an electrician and also managed several movie theaters; her mother worked as a cashier and later ran a coffee shop. When she was seven years old the family moved to Kempsey, New South Wales. After graduating from high school in 1942, she did volunteer war work and also served briefly in the women's branch of the Australian Air Force. In 1950 she graduated from the University of Sydney with a bachelor's degree in Dental Surgery and moved to New Zealand, where she worked as a junior dental officer in the Department of Health and then opened her own practice with a colleague. This was the only dental practice run by women in New Zealand at the time. In 1952, she immigrated to the United States to further her dental studies, doing an internship at the Forsyth Dental Infirmary in Boston, Massachusetts, where she met Edward Eyre Hunt, a statistics instructor at the infirmary and a lecturer in anthropology at Harvard College. He was the son of Edward Eyre Hunt Sr. (1885-1953)and Virginia Lloyd Fox Hunt (1888-1977), and had one sister, Virginia (known as "Bay" or "Bayster"), who married Ralph "Bim" Wedgwood in 1943. Edward Eyre Hunt Sr., an economist and writer, was the American delegate of the Commission for Relief in Belgium in charge of the province of Antwerp from 1914 to 1915 and wrote a book about his experiences. He held a variety of positions with the Red Cross during World War I, including serving as Head of Economic Rehabilitation work in France in 1917 and Director General of Civilian Relief in Italy. He also held a variety of appointments in the administrations of Presidents Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, being appointed Secretary of the President's Emergency Committee for Employment in 1930 and also serving as a member of the President's Research Committee on Social Trends from 1930 to 1933, and associate director of field operations for the State Department's Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation in 1943. He also studied economic and social trends in Venezuela in 1939. Virginia Fox Hunt, painter, goldsmith, author, and editor, served with the American Red Cross during both World War. Her sister, Louise Fox Connell, married the author Richard Connell.

Edward and Vilma married in 1952 after a three week courtship and had four children: Margaret, William, Louise, and Catherine, known as "Kitty." Vilma was an instructor in Human Anatomy and General Biology at Endicott Junior College in Beverly, Massachusetts, from 1955 to 1956 and received her master's degree in Physical Anthropology from Radcliffe College in 1958. She studied with Professor Edward A. Hooton, noted for his work on racial classification. In 1961, she was among the twenty four women selected by the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study as its first group of scholars; under the program's aegis, she studied and conducted research in the Harvard School of Public Health's physiology department with Professor Edward Radford. Her research was funded by the US Atomic Energy Commission. She credited the Institute with effectively launching her career as a scientist, as prior to her scholarship, she had spent several years at home with her children, and there was little likelihood of her starting a new career. She noted "Five years at home having babies was enough to tell me that I still had more to do in this world." While studying radioactive elements in bones, teeth, and soft tissue at the School of Public Health, she discovered polonium-210 in cigarette smoke; she and Radford then conducted further tests and determined that smokers are exposed to far more polonium-210 than nonsmokers. These findings were critical in establishing one of the probable reasons for the links between smoking and lung cancer. Her other research interests included the dangers of uranium mining, occupational health of women, and workplace hazards to both female and male fertility.

She remained at the School of Public Health until 1966, when Edward was appointed Professor of Anthropology at City University in New York and Assistant Professor at Yale Medical School. The family relocated to Connecticut, with Vilma working as an assistant fellow in physiology and an assistant professor of environmental health at Yale University. While at Yale, Hunt worked on a project which aimed to prevent children from being poisoned by lead paint. In 1969, the Hunts moved to State College, Pennsylvania, with both Hunts taking positions at Pennsylvania State University, Edward as professor of anthropology and Vilma as assistant professor of environmental health. She was granted tenure in 1972 and was appointed full professor in 1982. She became active in the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), serving as national recording secretary from 1972 to 1974 and helping to found Pennsylvania and Massachusetts chapters. She was also active in the American Association of University Professors, Committee W on the Status of Women in the University Profession. Edward and Vilma both retired from the university in 1985 and Edward died in 1991. From 1978 to 1979, Vilma served as an environmental scientist on the Environmental Protection Agency's science advisory board. From 1979 to 1982, she was deputy assistant administrator for health research at the Office of Research and Development, where she dealt with the health effects of toxic waste dumps and nuclear disasters, such as Love Canal and Three Mile Island, and also led a health research delegation to the People's Republic of China.

She held a Mellon Research Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1984 to 1985, and a visiting lectureship in environmental science and physiology at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1986 to 1993, as well as becoming an adjunct faculty member at the Work Environment Laboratory of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She also served as a consultant in environmental and occupational health, lecturing widely both in the United States and abroad, and helping to found the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, which has been active in environmental justice campaigns. Her books include The Health of Women at Work and Work and the Health of Women. For several years before her death, she worked on a book about uranium, which was never published. She died on December 29, 2012, from complications from a stroke and brain seizures.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1926-2013 (#1.1-14.9, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2)
  2. Series II. Family, 1836-2010 (#14.10-33.16, 76.1-76.9, FD.2, F+D.3m)
  3. Series III. Correspondence, 1947-2012 (#33.17-55.4)
  4. Series IV. Professional, 1934-2005 (#55.5-72.11, F+D.4, OD.1, SD.1)
  5. Series V. Activism, 1970-2006 (#72.12-75.5)
  6. Series VI. Photographs and audiovisual, ca.1860-ca.2010 (#PD.1-PD.23, T-509.1 - T-509.11, DVD-111.1 - DVD-111.4)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 93-M165, 2000-M78, 2000-M95, 2013-M19, 2013-M115, 2013-M134, 2015-M6, 2015-M12. Accession number 2020-M18 was added to the collection in February 2020.

The additional papers of Vilma R. Hunt were given to the Schlesinger Library by Vilma R. Hunt and her daughter Margaret R. Hunt between October 1993 and January 2015, with an additional donation by her daughter Catherine Hunt in February 2020.

Related Material:

The Schlesinger Library holds several collections which augment this collection or overlap with it. An earlier collection of Vilma Hunt papers (87-M155--92-M217) focuses primarily on her professional life. The Herrick-Hunt family papers (2000-M96) include a memoir and other writings by Virginia Herrick Fox (mother of Virginia Fox Hunt), a record book and correspondence related to Virginia Fox Hunt's goldsmith business, Louise Fox Connell's correspondence, and letters from Edward Eyre Hunt Jr. to his parents. The Bledsoe-Herrick family papers (MC 290) include additional material related to Edward Eyre Hunt (Sr. and Jr.), Virginia Fox Hunt, Louise Fox Connell, and their ancestors. The library also holds the papers of Louise Fox Connell (MC 386) and Margaret Hunt (2000-M110--2000-M171)..


Donors: Vilma Hunt

Accession numbers: 2000-M95, 2013-M115, 2013-M134

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to the Schlesinger Library Printed Materials Division:

  1. Banbury Report 11: Environmental Factors in Human Growth and Development edited by Vilma R. Hunt, M. Kate Smith, Dorothy Worth. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1982
  2. Fourth Women & Labour Conference: Papers, Brisbane, Australia, 1984
  3. Mitchell, Louise. Trade Union Women's Studies: Women in American Labor History Parts 1 & 2, New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 1974
  4. Robertson, Janet. The Broken Mirror. Janet Robertson, 1992
  5. Women at Work Melbourne, Australia: Working Women's Charter Group , No. 2, July/August 1976 and undated.

The following newsletters have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Printed Materials Collection:

  1. American Association of University Professors Committee W Newsletter, September 1973 - February 1974
  2. CWST News: volume 8 issue 5. Published by the Coal Employment Project & Coal Mining Women's Support Team, November 1986
  3. Mabel: Australian Feminist Newspaper, No.3 April-May 1978
  4. Women at Work No.2, July/August 1976, undated. Working Women's Centre, Melbourne, Australia,

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Margaret Hunt papers (2000-M110--2000-M171):

  1. Margaret Hunt correspondence
  2. Margaret Hunt schoolwork

The following item was removed from the collection and offered to Harvard University's Cabot Science Library:

  1. Abbots, John. Disposable Consumer Items: The Overlooked Mercury Pollution Problem, 1991

The following material has been removed from the collection and offered to Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives:

  1. Publications, press releases, correspondence, etc. of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice/Citizens' Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste

Processing Information

Processed: April 2015

Updated and additional material added: February 2020

By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Dan Bullman and Johanna Carll

Hunt, Vilma R. Additional papers of Vilma R. Hunt, 1836-2013 (inclusive), 1940-2005 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible in part by the Radcliffe Class of 1955 Archival 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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