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COLLECTION Identifier: A/A223

Papers of Frances Pass Addelson, 1922, 1971-1987


Diary and articles (primarily about abortion rights) by social worker Frances Pass Addelson.


  • Creation: 1922
  • Creation: 1971-1987


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Frances Pass Addelson 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.


2 folders

The collection consists of a 1914 Rhode Island Hospital Trust appointment calendar, which Frances Pass Addelson used as a diary while living at the Home for Destitute Jewish Children in 1922. It documents her daily activities, particularly her involvement with the Camp Fire Girls, and her stay at a camp in Derry, New Hampshire. The lengthier diary entries are written on the back sides of the appointment book pages, with shorter entries (generally regarding the distance walked each day) in the daily sections on the front pages. Also included are articles regarding access to abortion written by Addelson while working at Beth Israel Hospital, as well as a New York Times op ed regarding abortion in which she is quoted, and an article by Addelson on George Eliot and Judaism, as depicted in her novel Daniel Deronda. Letters from Addelson to Schlesinger Library staff, commenting on items in the collection, are also included.


Frances Pass Addelson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1909, and lived in Roxbury and Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was the second of three children of Jacob and Esther Cohen Pass; Joseph was the oldest child, Ruth the youngest. In 1918 her father died and her mother tried to support the family as a seamstress at Jordan Marsh department store. She was too ill to work, however, and eventually entered a private sanatorium in Brighton. Joseph and Frances were taken to the Home for Destitute Jewish Children, an orphanage in Dorchester, Massachusetts, run by Associated Jewish Philanthropies, while Ruth went to live with an aunt. Addelson attended Oliver W. Holmes School and Dorchester High School for Girls before graduating from Radcliffe College, where she studied social work and psychology, in 1930. She married Arthur Addelson in 1940; they had one son, William. In 1954 she earned an M.S. in social work from Simmons College. She was a social worker at Massachusetts Correctional Institute--Framingham and at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where she was affiliated with the hospital's ob-gyn clinic, and was a proponent of a woman's right to choose abortion. In the early 1970s, when Addelson was a senior social worker at the clinic, the hospital was one of the few accredited hospitals in the Boston area performing abortions. Later in life she was an active member of Harvard Institute of Living in Retirement, where she established the Shakespeare Players in 2001; the group was renamed the Frances Addelson Shakespeare Players a few years later. She died in Florida, where she lived with her sister Ruth, in 2014.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 98-M205

The diary of Frances Pass Addelson was given to the Schlesinger Library by Frances Pass Addelson in 1998. Reprints of articles by Addelson were transferred to the collection from the Radcliffe Alumnae Pamphlet collection in 2018.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital Surrogates of a portion of this collection are available through the Adam Matthew online database Gender: Identity and Social Change (Access restricted to subscribing institutions).

Processing Information

Processed: December 1998

By: Anne Engelhart

Updated and additional description added: March 2023By: Susan EarleThe 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.

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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