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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 525

Papers of Jolane Baumgarten Solomon, ca.1900-2001


Papers of Jolane Baumgarten Solomon, Radcliffe alumna and professor of biology at Boston College.


  • Creation: 1900-2001

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted, except that #5.1-6.15 are closed until January 1, 2012, and #17.7 is closed until January 1, 2080.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers of Jolane Solomon 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.


8.26 linear feet ((16 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 1 folio folder, 1 oversize folder, and 15 photograph folders)

Many of the documents in this collection relate to Solomon's education and to her relationship with her mother. The collection includes correspondence, address books, journals and diaries, class notes from Solomon's studies at Harvard, passports, reports, a Boston College yearbook, Solomon's Radcliffe diploma, clippings, a scrapbook, and photographs. Much of the collection was not in folders, though groupings of related material were frequently bundled together with rubber bands. The processor maintained the existing arrangement whenever it could be discerned. The bulk of the folder headings were created by the processor; those created by Solomon appear in quotation marks.

Additional material received in 2007 (accession number 2007-M166) was added to the collection in March 2016. These materials are housed in #PD.15.

Series I, Personal (#1.1-4.24, FD.1, 18F+B.1-18F+B.7, OD.1), includes documents related to Solomon's personal and family life. The bulk of the series consists of appointment books. The series is arranged into two subseries, each of which is arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, Address and appointment books (#1.1-3.15, FD.1), contains appointment books ranging from 1953 to 1996, documenting Solomon's education at Radcliffe through her career at Boston College.

Subseries B, General (#3.16-4.24, 18F+B.1-18F+B.7, OD.1), contains documents relating to Solomon's family and personal life, including passport applications, Solomon's bridal registry, international driving permits for herself and her husband, and obituaries and remarks made at her funeral. Also documented are the various organizations for which Solomon served as a trustee or director, such as the Franklin Park Zoo and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (later Brigham and Women's). The subseries includes a scrapbook containing photographs, letters from Boston College promoting her to associate and full professor, clippings about her wedding and work at Boston College, and an article she wrote entitled "On Being a Jew at Boston College."

Series II, Diaries and writings (#5.1-8.2), is arranged into two sections: diaries and journals, and other writings. Each section is arranged chronologically. The diaries, which are closed until January 1, 2012, include entries about Solomon's work, her family life, and her thoughts on books she had read and plays and movies she had seen. Entries also document Solomon's feelings about the people in her life, descriptions of sessions with her therapist, and interpretations of her dreams. In addition, the series contains the two-volume memoir, 40 Bullets in Your Hat and Book Two: 40 Bullets in Your Hat: Work and Marriage, and a number of drafts of both volumes. The first volume includes detailed descriptions of her childhood, work at the Manhattan Project and Rockefeller Institute, and life at Radcliffe and Harvard. Also included are poetry and prose, much written in the 1950s, and a story about adoption, written for Solomon's son Sam.

Series III, Marian Baumgarten (#8.3-13.11), documents Solomon's relationship with her mother. The two subseries are arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, Letters from Solomon (#8.3-12.13), consists of letters Solomon wrote her mother, Marian Baumgarten, ranging from the late 1940s, when Solomon had moved out of her mother's home but still resided in New York City, through her years at Radcliffe and Harvard, to her married life. Topics include Solomon's work and studies, her social activities and living arrangements, her engagement and subsequent marriage to Bernard Solomon, and her children. The letters also frequently refer to Solomon's gratitude and desire to help her mother and to disagreements between the two; Solomon often mentions telephone conversations and letters she received from her mother. Very few letters to Solomon from her mother are included in the collection; those that exist can be found in #13.2.

Subseries B, General (#12.14-13.11), primarily documents Solomon's efforts to provide care for her mother. Correspondence with hospital and welfare officials can be found here, as can Solomon's correspondence with family members concerning attempts to persuade Baumgarten to move to a new apartment in New York City. The subseries also contains correspondence regarding the estates of Baumgarten's mother and brother, and a few letters Solomon received from her mother; these letters reveal both Baumgarten's affection for her daughter and grandchildren and her intense racial prejudices. (One of these letters also includes some information about Solomon's father's family.) In addition, the subseries includes some letters sent to their grandmother by Sam and Sally Solomon and a letter from Baumgarten to Sam, as well as Baumgarten's Social Security card and photostats of her birth certificate.

Series IV, Correspondence (#13.12-14.5), documents Solomon's efforts to reconnect with her classmates at Pleasantville Cottage School. Some issues of the Crows and Ravens newsletter, including information about Pleasantville alums, are located here; the March 1982 issue includes a notice placed by Solomon. In addition, the series contains letters from Solomon's children; from friends such as Catherine Galbraith; letters from Edward Kennedy to Bernard Solomon; and a poem written for Solomon by Andre Gregory. The series also documents Solomon's attempts to learn more about her mother's family, and to locate both her father's burial site and a cousin with whom she had lost touch. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series V, Student records (#14.6-16.2, 18F+B.8), contains report cards from Solomon's elementary school and junior and senior high schools, as well as notes from a summer school class at Columbia University, classes taken at Hunter College, and Harvard University. Also included are Solomon's application to Radcliffe Graduate School, scores on the Graduate Record Examination, information regarding financial aid, correspondence related to her course of study at Radcliffe, and issues of a Hunter College newsletter of which she was editor. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series VI, Professional (#16.3-17.11), primarily pertains to Solomon's work at Boston College. Included are a Boston College yearbook, course evaluations, an article Solomon wrote about her experiences at the college, and a report on the role of women at the college. The series also includes some news stories Solomon wrote while employed at the Harvard News Office, as well as a small number of documents related to her time at the Harvard School of Public Health. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series VII, Photographs (#PD.1-PD.15), consists of photographs of Solomon ranging from her childhood to her adult life. Included are pictures of her parents, husband, children, and friends such as the Galbraiths.


Jolane Baumgarten Solomon was born in New York City on September 23, 1927. As her parents separated when she was quite young and her mother was often unable to care for her, she spent a few years at the Pleasantville Cottage School, a school for orphans north of New York City. Her father died when she was ten and when she was thirteen she returned to New York to live with her mother, a bookkeeper. Her mother's mental illness made it impossible for her to continue working and she and Jolane went on welfare. Upon graduating from Hunter College High School, Solomon took evening classes at New York University and Hunter College while working in the calculation division of the Manhattan Project and as a glass-washer and laboratory technician at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. While at the Rockefeller Institute, she assisted with experiments focusing on cancer and malaria in rats and became increasingly interested in scientific research.

Upon receiving her bachelor's degree in zoology from Hunter College in 1952, Solomon moved to Cambridge, to attend Radcliffe Graduate School. While working towards her master's degree in biology, she boarded with John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife Catherine, who became lifelong friends. In 1957, she was married at their house to Bernard Solomon, then an advisor to Congressman Foster Furcolo. (After Furcolo was elected governor of Massachusetts, Bernard Solomon served as purchasing agent for the state and later became a vice-president of Stop and Shop grocery stores and Patriot Bank.) Although Solomon's advisor in the biology department discouraged her from pursuing a Ph.D., she continued her studies at the Medical Science Program at Harvard Medical School, and received her doctorate in biology and physiology in 1958. While working towards her doctorate, she served as a teaching fellow and wrote science stories for the Harvard News Service, many of which were picked up by national newspapers. After receiving her degree, Solomon worked as a post-doctorate fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, studying obese mice in hopes of finding a cure for diabetes. In 1962, Solomon and her husband adopted a baby boy and she hoped to continue her work at the School of Public Health in a part-time capacity. However, her supervisor would not agree to this, and so Solomon sought employment at Boston College, joining the biology department in 1963.

At Boston College, Solomon taught a popular endocrinology course and was dedicated to promoting and furthering the role of women in science and research. To this end, she chaired a committee to study the role of women at the college. (At the time she joined the faculty, the college of arts and sciences did not admit women undergraduates.) She also served as a part-time ombudsman, counseling students on changing courses, finding housing and part-time jobs, and personal problems. Further, she pioneered a course on human sexuality, which she taught with Father John McCall, a professor of psychology and religion. In the 1970s, Solomon conducted research on the effects of marijuana on female rats, finding that, like estrogen, marijuana caused a significant growth in the size of the uterus. She was promoted to full professor in 1980, thus becoming the first female full professor in the natural sciences at Boston College.

In addition to her work at Boston College, Solomon served on a number of boards, including Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the Center of Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age. Besides their son Samuel, the Solomons had a daughter, Sarah, known as Sally, born in 1964. Solomon died March 9, 2001.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Personal
  2. Series II. Diaries and writings
  3. Series III. Marian (also known as Mary, Miriam) Baumgarten
  4. Series IV. Correspondence
  5. Series V. Student records
  6. Series VI. Professional
  7. Series VII. Photographs

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2001-M121, 2002-M50, 2002-M78, 2002-M96, 2002-M156, 2007-M166

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Bernard Solomon in July 2001 and between March and June 2002, with additional material donated via Northeastern University Archives in May and October 2002 and in August 2007. Accession number 2007-M166 was added in March 2016.

Processing Information

Processed: May 2005

By: Susan Earle

Updated and additional materials added: March 2016

By: Anne Engelhart

Solomon, Jolane Baumgarten. Papers of Jolane Baumgarten Solomon, ca. 1900-2001: 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 a gift from the Edward, Frances and Shirley B. Daniels 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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