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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 543

Papers of Jacqueline Bernard, 1893-1983 (inclusive), 1943-1983 (bulk)


Correspondence, writings, photographs, etc., of author, journalist, and social activist Jacqueline Bernard.


  • Creation: 1893-1983
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1943-1983

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Jacqueline Bernard 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.


8.75 linear feet ((19 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 2 folio photograph folders, 55 photograph folders, 16 audiotapes)

The collection documents the personal and professional life of Jacqueline Bernard, and includes genealogical information, personal and professional correspondence, financial records, resumes, government files, writings, research notes, drafts, poems, clippings, interviews, audiotapes, and photographs. Most folder headings have been created by the processor. Headings created by Bernard appear in quotes; processor's notes are in square brackets.

Series I, PERSONAL, 1893-1983 (scattered) (#1.1-5.12), contains correspondence documenting Bernard's personal life, and the de Sieyes and Paine families; financial and health records; daily planners (1981-1982); resident and tenant records; undergraduate papers, class notes, and annotated readings; curricula vitae; suicide notes; writing accounts; and an extensive FBI report on Bernard covering 1959 to 1981. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1922-1983 (scattered) (#5.13-11.10), contains personal and professional correspondence. Received by the Schlesinger Library in no particular order, the series is now arranged in two subseries, which were determined by the processor.

Subseries A, Alphabetical, 1922-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#5.13-9.3), contains letters between Bernard and her family, friends, partners, literary agent, and various publishers and organizations. There is substantive correspondence with Bernard's mother, Louise de Sieyes, and Bernard's son, Joel Bernard. The bulk of the letters from Joel were written while he was in summer camp in the 1950s and while he was doing civil rights work in Mississippi from 1964 to 1966.

Subseries B, Chronological, 1939-1983, n.d. (#9.4-11.10), consists of correspondence with friends and family. There is some overlap of people and subjects found in correspondence from Subseries A. Some of the correspondence is in French. The subseries is arranged chronologically and letters with no dates were arranged by decade.

Series III, WRITINGS, 1900-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#11.11-17.18), contains writings by Bernard, including drafts, correspondence, notes, ideas, poems, book reviews, newspaper and magazine articles, letters to the editor, and other unpublished material. The series is arranged in four subseries.

Subseries A, Journey toward Freedom, 1900-1978 (#11.11-12.13), contains clippings, correspondence, book reviews, promotional material, royalty statements, research notes, etc., for Journey Toward Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth, a biography of Sojourner Truth, a 19th-century abolitionist and women's rights activist who was born into slavery, freed in 1827, and died in 1883. Files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Voices from the Southwest, 1968-1980 (#12.14-12.18, 13.1-13.4), contains research notes, clippings, reviews, and correspondence for Voices from the Southwest (Scholastic Book Service, 1972), the story of three Mexican-American heroes: Antonio Jose Martinez, Elfego Baca, and Reies Lopez Tijerina. The correspondence found in this subseries highlights Bernard's research in the archives of New Mexico and her interview with Tijerina. Files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Daughter of the Mines, 1971-1979, n.d. (#13.5-14.7, 14.16), contains three undated drafts, correspondence, and contracts regarding the unpublished life story of Katherine Tiller (last name changed to Carter in manuscript), a miner's daughter and miner's wife who lived most of her life in West Virgina and Southwest Virginia. Tiller's husband, John, was active in both Appalachian and national political activities and was on the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) board of directors. Bernard originally recorded Tiller's story to fulfill a contract with W.W. Norton for a young adult book, but much of the material proved to be too adult for juveniles. Bernard focused on selling it as a book for adults, which she believed would be "the first full-length, first-person life story of an Appalachian woman told with attention to much of the detail which the woman's liberation movement has legitimized" (see #13.8 for Bernard's letter to Katherine Holloway, senior editor of the University of Tennessee Press). Additional information about Katherine Tiller's life with her husband John and their eight children can be found in Kathy Kahn's Hillbilly Women (Doubleday, 1973). Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Short stories, articles, poems, book reviews, and personal writings, 1947-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#12.19, 14.8-14.15, 14.17-17.18), contains clippings, drafts, photographs, contact sheets, negatives and correspondence about published articles, short stories, and poems found in the Ms. Gazette, Westsider, New Age Magazine, Working Papers for a New Society, Healthright, The Single Parent (Parents without Partners magazine), Soho Weekly News, Southern Exposure, Yankee, and Off Our Backs. Bernard wrote articles about various local, national, and international labor issues, as well as a handful of articles on local New York subjects such as tenant rights, elderly picnics, etc. Many of her short stories and letters were written and published under the pseudonym Indy Tate. Bernard's letters to the editor and book reviews written for the New York Times and Science and Society are also located in this subseries. There is an abundance of unpublished material including personal writings, drafts and notes for an autobiographical short story or novel. Also of interest is her travel diary from a 1973 research trip to China (see #15.6). Bernard often took her own photographs for the articles she wrote. Most of these photographs may be found in Series V, Subseries A. Files are arranged chronologically.

Series IV, SUBJECT FILES, 1957-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#17.19-20.11), contains notes, correspondence, newsletters, newsclippings, pamphlets, etc., concerning various topics of interest to Bernard, including feminism, urban development, labor strikes, Appalachia, Latin American women, women's labor, women's health, and various country profiles, including China, Africa, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Bernard also closely followed the Peter Reilly murder trial in Litchfield, Connecticut, in which a teenage boy was charged with killing his mother in 1973; she posted a significant amount of his bail in memory of her mother. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOTAPES, 1940s-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#PD.1-PD.55, T-193.1-T-193.16), contains photographs, negatives, contact sheets, audiotapes, and magnetic reels. The series is arranged in two subseries, which were determined by the processor.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1940s-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#PD.1-PD.55), contains personal family photographs and negatives, as well as photographs, contact sheets, and negatives taken for various articles and research projects. There are many photographs and negatives documenting Bernard's trip to China in 1973, the Cesar Chavez United Farm Workers' march in New York in 1974, a trip to the Appalachian region in 1975, and the Tiller family Bernard wrote about in Daughter of the Mines. There are also a number of New York street scenes shot by Bernard in the 1970s. The Cuba slides were taken by Bernard's friend Leo (last name unknown). This subseries contains both cataloged and uncataloged photographs. The cataloged photographs are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. The uncataloged photographs are considered to be not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*]. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Audiotapes, 1961, 1983, n.d. (#T-193.1-T-193.16), contains nine tapes documenting anthropology lectures, a human rights trip to Nicaragua, women coal miner songs etc.; and seven tapes containing an interview with Bernard on her book Journey toward Freedom, and interviews by Bernard with Don Curtiss (author of Operation Shopping Center), Appalachian women Barbara Angle and Mary Jane Putzel, Sarah Thenault (a family friend), and Tom Wheaton, a young playwright. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.


Jacqueline de Sieyes Bernard, daughter of Jacques Edouard, a diplomat, and Louise (Paine) de Sieyes, was born May 5, 1921, in Le Bourget du Lac, Savoie, France. After moving to the United States with her family in 1927, she attended the Madeira School in Greenway, Virgina (1935-1939), Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York (1939-1941), and the University of Chicago (1941-1942). She moved to Mexico in 1942 and worked as a researcher for Revista Tiempo, a weekly news magazine, where she met Allen Bernard, whom she married in 1943. They had one son, Joel Bernard (b. 1945), and divorced in 1952. She attended night classes at the City College of New York (1960-1982), and the New School for Social Research, Parsons School of Design, also in New York City (1980-1983).

Bernard held a variety of jobs, including reporter for the Washington Post (1945-1946), writer for U.S. Camera (1946), picture researcher at Pare Lorentz Associates (1949-1951), Educational Director at Filmstrip House (1953-1957), and copywriter at B.L. Mazel Advertising, Inc. (1957-1959). Between jobs, she sold toys at Macy's, performed market research, and worked in a factory. In 1956, she co-founded Parents without Partners, a national organization for unmarried parents and their children. She was active in left-wing politics and the civil rights movement, and campaigned for rights of female prisoners. Other interests included Appalachian women writers and coal miners, Latin American women, and women in China.

She wrote two books for young adults: Journey toward Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth (Norton, 1967), and Voices from the Southwest (Scholastic Book Service, 1972). She also authored The Children You Gave Us (Jewish Child Care Association, 1973), a history of the Jewish Child Care Association of New York, and Daughter of the Mines, an unpublished "as told to" life story of an Appalachian woman in West Virginia. Bernard also wrote numerous articles, short stories, poetry, book reviews, and letters to the editor.

In 1983, Bernard was murdered in her apartment in New York City; the case remains unsolved.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Personal, 1893-1983 (scattered) (#1.1-5.12)
  2. Series II. Correspondence,1922-1983 (scattered) (#5.13-11.10)
  3. ___Subseries A. Alphabetical, 1922-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#5.13-9.3)
  4. ___Subseries B. Chronological, 1939-1983, n.d. (#9.4-11.10)
  5. Series III. Writings, 1900-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#11.11-17.18)
  6. ___Subseries A. Journey toward Freedom, 1900-1978 (#11.11-12.13)
  7. ___Subseries B. Voices from the Southwest, 1968-1980 (#12.14-12.18, 13.1-13.4)
  8. ___Subseries C. Daughter of the Mines, 1971-1979, n.d. (#13.5-14.7, 14.16)
  9. ___Subseries D. Short stories, poems, book reviews, and personal writings, 1947-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#12.19, 14.8-14.15, 14.17-17.18)
  10. Series IV. Subject files, 1957-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#17.19-20.11)
  11. Series V. Photographs and Audiotapes, 1940s-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#PD.1-PD.55, T-193.1-T-193.16)
  12. ___Subseries A. Photographs, 1940s-1983 (scattered), n.d. (#PD.1-PD.55)
  13. ___Subseries B. Audiotapes, 1961, 1983, n.d. (#T-193.1-T-193.16)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 86-M112, 89-M173

The papers of Jacqueline Bernard were given to the Schlesinger Library by her son Joel Bernard in August 1986 and September 1989.


Donors: Joel Bernard

Accession numbers: 86-M112, 89-M173

Processed by: Alina Morris

The following item has been transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection:

  1. Bernard, Jacqueline. Isabella: Die Lebensgeschichte der Sojourner Truth. R. Brockhaus Taschenbücher, 1972. [German translation of Journey Toward Freedom]

Processing Information

Processed: September 2007

By: Alina Morris

Bernard, Jacqueline, 1921-1983. Papers of Jacqueline Bernard, 1893-1983 (inclusive), 1943-1983 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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