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COLLECTION Identifier: SC 2

Papers of Katharine Butler Hathaway, 1911-1956 (inclusive), 1920-1942 (bulk)


Short stories, poems, novellas, journals, class notebooks, correspondence, etc., of Katherine Butler Hathaway, Radcliffe College Class of 1914.


  • 1911-1956
  • Majority of material found within 1920-1942

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Katharine Butler Hathaway 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.


1.67 linear feet (4 file boxes)

The collection consists of short stories, poems, novellas and journals. Material related to her published and unpublished writings often include typescript and manuscript drafts, drawings, correspondence with publishers, and contracts with her brother, Warren Butler. Hathaway's commonplace books can include partial transcriptions. This collection also includes three notebooks for literature courses Hathaway took while attending Radcliffe College, as well as college journals regarding her life and friends at Radcliffe. These papers also include Hathaway's estate documents.


Katharine Butler Hathaway was born on October 2, 1890, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Frank and Helen (Almy) Butler. In 1895, not long after the Butler family moved to Salem, Massachusetts, Katharine Butler Hathaway contracted tuberculosis of the spine. Her treatment, which was intended to prevent kyphosis (excessive curvature of the spine), consisted of being strapped to a weighted harness and required to lie flat on her back for the next ten years. The treatment failed and impaired her growth; at the age of 15, Katharine Butler Hathaway realized that not only had she developed kyphosis but was "the size of a ten-year old girl," as she described herself in her autobiographical book, The Little Locksmith.

Katharine Butler Hathaway attended one year at Abbot Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and another year at Miss McClintock's School in Boston. In 1910, she was admitted to Radcliffe College as a special student, and although she did not graduate, was considered a member of the Class of 1914. Katharine Butler Hathaway served of the Board of Editors for Radcliffe Magazine from 1911 to 1912.

In 1921, Katharine Butler Hathaway purchased her own house in Castine, Maine. In 1930, Hathaway traveled to Paris, France to write and draw. She returned to Massachusetts in 1932, and met Daniel Rugg Hathaway of Marblehead, Massachusetts; they were married soon after. Katharine Butler Hathaway sold her house in Castine, Maine, and the couple moved to Paris where she wrote her first book, Mr. Muffet's Cat and Her Trip to Paris (Harper & Brothers 1934). In 1934, the Hathaways returned to the United States, and bought a house in Blue Hill, Maine.

Katharine Butler Hathaway wrote many short stories and poems, including "The Black Pearl, A Gossamer Tale" (The Atlantic Monthly, June 1918); "To an Ancient Head of Aphrodite" (The Atlantic Monthly, January 1915); "No Strange Land" (The Atlantic Monthly, March 1915); "Hallowe'en Birth" (The Atlantic Monthly, October 1918). Her autobiographical book, The Little Locksmith, was first serialized in The Atlantic Monthly between 1942 and 1943. In 1943, it was published posthumously by her brother, Warren Butler, along with its sequel, The Journals and Letters of the Little Locksmith (Coward-McCann, 1946). The Little Locksmith was later republished in 2000, by The Feminist Press.

In the summer of 1942, Katharine Butler Hathaway began to have heart trouble and spent time in and out of the hospital. Katharine Butler Hathaway died on December 24, 1942.

For more information about Katharine Butler Hathaway, see The Little Locksmith and The Journals and Letters of the Little Locksmith.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: R74-8

The papers of Katharine Butler Hathaway were deposited with the Radcliffe College Archives by Mrs. Theodore Frothingham in December, 1974.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Drawings of Katharine Butler Hathaway (RA.A/H363); Papers of Katharine Butler Hathaway, 1937-1942 (MC 1060); Papers of Katharine Butler Hathaway, 1912-1947 (A/H363).


  1. Box 1: 1-6b
  2. Box 2: 7-11
  3. Box 3: 12-21
  4. Box 4: 22-35

Processing Information

Processed: April 1979

By: Beth Robertson

Updated with additional description: May 2021

By: Cat Lea Holbrook

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.

Hathaway, Katharine Butler, 1890-1942. Papers of Katharine Butler Hathaway, 1911-1956 (inclusive), 1920-1942 (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 by the Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, Jane Rainie Opel '50 Fund, and Zetlin Sisters 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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