Papers of Margaret P. Simmons, 1936-2021 (inclusive), 1936-1993 (bulk)
Photographs, clippings, and biographical information of Margaret P. Simmons, member of the only all African-American battalion of WACs to be stationed overseas.
- Majority of material found within 1936-1993
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Margaret Simmons 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.
Extent.21 linear feet ((1/2 file box) plus 6 photograph folders)
The collection consists primarily of photographs. Of particular note are the photographs of Simmons's battalion marching in formation and photographs of Simmons in military uniform and with her fellow WACs and with soldiers. Photographs of friends and of Simmons's parents, Addie and George Perkins, are also included. The collection also includes clippings on African Americans and women in the military, a reunion of African American WACs, African American women in the fashion industry, and racism. Some biographical information is included, as well as memorial service programs for friends of Simmons, her 1939 membership card for the New York Institute of Photography, and photographs of minor celebrities, one of which was taken by Simmons herself and stamped "Photo by Simmons." Folder headings were provided by Swann Galleries.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
Margaret Perkins Simmons was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1921, the daughter of Addie McCollough Perkins and George Perkins. She was living in Washington, DC, in 1943, when she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps. She served in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only overseas battalion composed entirely of Black women. The Battalion was based in Birmingham, England, and charged with sorting through warehouses and airport hangars filled with millions of pieces of undelivered mail intended for members of the United States military, government personnel, and Red Cross workers. The women succeeded in identifying the intended recipients of the mail and clearing the backlog of mail in three months, rather than the anticipated six. With this work completed, in 1945 the Battalion sailed to France, where they were based first in Rouen and then in Paris, and again tasked with sorting through large backlogs of undelivered mail. While in the corps, Simmons performed on guitar as a member of an all-female orchestra and designed costumes for shows put on by the military. She was also interested in photography. Simmons was apparently married three times, first to men with the surnames Simmons and Tacdol, and then, in 1959, to Ronald Fouche. Ronald and Margaret lived in the San Francisco, California area. Margaret Simmons died in 1996.
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession number: 2021-M76
The papers of Margaret P. Simmons were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Swann Galleries in April 2021.
Processed: July 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 Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Fund, Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library, and Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.
- EAD ID
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