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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1156

Family papers of Gladys S. Wood, 1901-2017 (inclusive), 1930-1985 (bulk), undated


Correspondence, photographs, photograph albums, genealogical information, certificates, diplomas, and yearbooks of the Wood Family, including educator and school administrator Gladys S. Wood.


  • Creation: 1901-2017
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1985
  • Creation: Undated


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the family papers of Gladys S. Wood 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.


1.59 linear feet ((2 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 3 folio folders, 2 oversize folders, 11 photograph folders, 2 folio+ photograph folders, 6 slides)
9.476 Megabytes (1 file)

The collection contains correspondence, scrapbooks and photograph albums, letters of recommendation, certificates and diplomas, citations, transcripts, photographs, and yearbooks documenting the lives of Gladys Wood, her mother Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood, and several of her sisters, including Elaine Hattie Julia Wood, Evelyn Wood Richardson, Hilda Wood Smith, and Nahola Wood Finney Babo.

The majority of this collection highlights Gladys Wood's career as an educator and school administrator; she was Boston's first African American school principal. Of note are the letters of recommendation written in support of Gladys Wood's application for the position of vice principal at the Charles C. Perkins School in Boston's Back Bay. This collection also includes material related to the founding of the Alpha Omicron Sigma Boston Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Also found in this collection are wills and deeds, baptismal records, genealogical information, and marriage certificates relating to the Wood family. This collection also contains photographs of the Wood family throughout the 20th century.

The arrangement and folder titles were created by the archivist. This collection is arranged with material related to Gladys Wood listed first, followed alphabetically by the other members of the Wood family. The photographs are listed last. The archivist used quotes around the outdated term "colored" where it appears in the material, such as the 1912 Alabama marriage record (colored) of Samuel Wood and Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Gladys S. Wood was born on May 16, 1916, to Samuel Clarence Wood, Sr., and Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Gladys Wood graduated from Roxbury Memorial High School in 1934. She graduated from Teachers College of the City of Boston (BA 1937, MA 1951), which would become Boston State College, and eventually, the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In 1945, Gladys Wood became a charter member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Alpha Omicron Sigma Chapter (now called the Boston Alumnae Chapter) in Boston. She served as president in 1954-1955, and was involved with the "Jabberwock" project, which raised money for local scholarships.

In 1966, Gladys Wood became the first African American principal in the Boston Public School system when she was appointed principal at Dearborn Elementary School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She also served as principal at other Boston neighborhood schools, including the Tileston School in Mattapan and the Chittick School in Hyde Park. Gladys Wood was assistant director of the Boston Public School system's teacher placement department, and served on the Science Fair Committee of the Boston Public School system. Gladys Wood was honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1966, and two years later received the Frederick A. Douglass Achievement Award.

Gladys Wood died in Milton, Massachusetts, on August 3, 2017.


Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood was born on March 14, 1885, in Cotton Valley in Macon County, Alabama, and graduated from Fisk University (BA 1905) in Nashville, Tennessee. She taught at the Cotton Valley School, which was founded in 1884, by Booker T. Washington and the Massachusetts Congregational Women's Home Missionary Association, in Fort Davis, Alabama.

Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood married Samuel Clarence Wood, Sr., in 1912. They had 13 children: Beulah Viola Wood (1913-2009); Doris Elmira Wood (1914-1927); Gladys S. Wood (1916-2017); Samuel Clarence Wood, Jr. (1918-1973); Norman Ernest Wood (1920-1979); Norma Ernestine Wood (1920-2017); Mildred Wood Griffin (born 1922); Nahola Gertrude Wood Finney Babo (1922-2004); Elaine Hattie Julia Wood (1923-2009); Evelyn Amanda Wood Richardson (born 1923); Hilma Evangeline Wood (1925-2003); Hilda Wood Smith (1925-2020); and Corinne Wood Lewis (born 1927). Gertrude Ella (Boyd) Wood died on October 16, 1968.

Elaine Hattie Julia Wood was born on March 9, 1923. She attended Boston University and the Teachers College of the City of Boston. Elaine Wood served as a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. She was also a member of The Robins in the "Colored Women's Bowling League" of Boston. Elaine Wood taught at the Dearborn Elementary School in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and at the James Murphy School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Elaine Hattie Julia Wood died on May 10, 2009.

Beulah Viola Wood graduated from Roxbury Memorial High School and attended Suffolk University. She worked for the City of Boston's Welfare Department until her retirement in 1989. Beulah Viola Wood died on October 1, 2009.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2018-M70

The family papers of Gladys S. Wood were given to the Schlesinger Library by Leslye M. Smith in May 2018.

Related Material:

There is related material at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Joseph P. Healey Library; see Gladys Wood papers, 1951-2017 (SC-0316).

Processing Information

Processed: February 2023

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Yolande E. Bennett.

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.

Wood, Gladys S., 1916-2017. Family papers of Gladys S. Wood, 1901-2017 (inclusive), 1930-1985 (bulk), undated: 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 Zetlin Sisters Fund, Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Fund, and The Gerard Schlesinger Library 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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