Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1108

Papers of Linda Worthington, ca.1935-2019 (inclusive), 1960-2019 (bulk)


Diaries and correspondence of Linda Worthington, documenting her experiences living and traveling in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States.


  • Creation: 1935-2019
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-2019

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. However, researchers wishing to publish material from the collection containing the name of any of the four donors must first obtain in writing permission from any one of the donors.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. To the extent that they own it, the donors retain copyright in the papers of Linda Worthington during their lifetimes. Upon the death of the last surviving donor, copyright hereby transfers and is assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College along with all right, title and interest, including copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof, in and to the work. 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.


13 linear feet ((13 cartons) plus 1 photograph folder and 1 slide)

The collection consists primarily of the diaries Linda Worthington kept from 1962 until shortly before her death in 2019. The diaries document her personal life and also her work for social and economic justice and her involvement in significant cultural and political events in the many places she lived, worked, and traveled. Events described include her experiences while living in Vietnam from 1963 to 1965, including being evacuated from Saigon with her young children via French freighter; meeting with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972 as part of relief efforts for Bangladesh; and traveling through China shortly before the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Additional material (Accession numbers 2021-M35, 2021-M61, and 2021-M68) was added to the collection in May 2021 and is housed in carton 13. This material consists primarily of letters Worthington wrote to William and Martha Flessner, the parents of her first husband. Letters from Judy, Laurel, and Kirby Worthington to their grandparents are also included; these letters, which were sometimes enclosed with Worthington's letters, frequently thank the Flessners for birthday gifts. Some letters from Worthington to others, including her parents Hazen and Burtriece Crandall and her second husband Paul Worthington are also included, with some letters to Paul including plans for their wedding. Worthington's letters describe growing unrest in Vietnam and the family's evacuation from the country in 1965; adjustment to life in Thailand; a miscarriage she experienced; the birth of Melissa Worthington; daily life, including the children's activities, growth, and education; and her work as well as that of Paul Worthington. Very few letters to Worthington are included. The collection also includes an essay on her first husband's death she submitted to Redbook; a sermon she gave on world hunger. Family photographs and newsletters (some describing the family's experiences in Thailand) are also included.


Linda Maxine Worthington was born on January 22, 1932, in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, the daughter of Hazen Joseph and Burtriece Iris Warner Crandall. She graduated from Kalamazoo College in Michigan in the early 1950s and received a master's degree in theological studies from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1985. She married Karl Henry Flessner in 1954; Flessner died in 1960 and two years later she married Paul Franklin Worthington. She had four children, Laurel, Judith, Kirby, and Melissa. In 1963, the family relocated to Vietnam, where Paul Worthington served with the United States Overseas Mission (later USAID, or United States Agency for International Development). Worthington and the children were evacuated from Vietnam in February 1965. They spent the next six years in Thailand, where they lived in Ubon and Bangkok while Paul Worthington served another tour of duty with the United States Overseas Mission. Laurel, Judith, and Kirby attended boarding school in Chiang Mai. Upon their return to the United States in 1971, Worthington and the children lived in Michigan while Paul was on temporary duty in Washington DC; the entire family lived in Washington from 1972 to 1976. In 1976, Paul rejoined the foreign service, serving first in Bangkok and then in Senegal, where he died in 1981. After his death, Worthington settled in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Worthington was involved with a variety of organizations focused on women, faith, hunger, and poverty. In 1972 she worked for the Emergency Relief Fund and coordinated the "Airlift of Understanding," taking seventy people on a mission to the newly formed country of Bangladesh. While in Bangladesh the group met with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi, as well as with Bangladeshis who spoke about their war experiences. While in Thailand in the early 1970s, she conducted field research on the effects of the sale of Nestlé infant formula products to the poor; this work continued under a USAID contract when she and Paul Worthington were based in Senegal and grew into a multi-country project. In the mid-1970s, she worked on the Center for Science in the Public Interest's "Food Day" program. She was also involved with the World Hunger Education Service from 1978 to 2017, serving first as an editor and then as a member of the board of directors. She joined the communications office of the United Methodist Church's Baltimore-Washington Conference as a copy editor and writer in 1999, becoming an editor for the organization in 2012 and remaining in this role until 2019. In 1996 she became chair of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women for the Baltimore-Washington Conference and continued as chair until 2004. She was the co-director and eventually alumni association vice president of International Voluntary Services, an overseas development organization, between 1991 and 1995, and continued volunteering with the organization until her death in 2019.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2020-M124, 2021-M35, 2021-M61, 2021-M68

Linda Worthington's diaries were given to the Schlesinger Library by her children, Laurel Worthington, Judy Worthington, Kirby Worthington, and Melissa (Worthington) Kallfelz, in October 2020. Additional donations of correspondence, newsletters, and other material were made by Judy Worthington in March and April 2021 and by Laurel Worthington in April 2021.

Processing Information

Processed: December 2020

By: Susan Earle

Additional material added: May 2021

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.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA