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COLLECTION Identifier: A-161

Letters of Mary Ursula Burrage, 1919-1920


Typescript letters from France of Mary Ursula Burrage, social worker.


  • Creation: 1919-1920


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Ursula Burrage as well as 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.


0.21 linear feet (1 half file box)

The papers of Mary Ursula Burrage consist of typescript copies of her letters home from France, May 3, 1919 to April 4, 1920. The typescripts were made by her mother and reflect the fact that Mrs. Burrage learned to type making these copies.

Burrage sent a letter home regularly each week. Written in diary form, the letters cover many more days than their dates indicate. She often used initials or first names when referring to friends. The first letter describes the crossing to France in detail; others describe Burrage's training, the people, the country, conditions, and her work. Members of the Radcliffe Unit were used principally as drivers and aides to the nurses in the various units of the French Red Cross; Burrage was stationed with the Union des Femmes de France, Poste Dispensaire, in Vermand, Aisne.

Letters from Burrage to Anna Eveleth Holman, another member of the Radcliffe Unit, are in Holman's papers (MC 291, #10). Other information was compiled into a two-volume history of the Unit entitled Radcliffe College in France, which was given by Holman to the Radcliffe College Archives.


Mary Ursula Burrage, social worker, was born on April 1, 1892, and was the daughter of Ursula (Dupre) and George Dixwell Burrage. She grew up in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, attended Miss Winsor's School in Boston, and earned her A.B. degree from Radcliffe College in 1914. That fall she enrolled in the School of Social Work at Simmons College, becoming a part-time student in May 1915 because of poor health. During 1915-1916 she did social service field work with the Associated Charities of Boston and at South End House. She served as a volunteer for the Associated Charities in the North End during 1916-1917, and was assistant and then acting district secretary from May to July 1917. She was also a visitor at the School for Crippled Children, Boston; a member of the Board of Managers of the Boston Provident Association; and served on the Council of the Graduate Club of the School of Social Work. During World War I she knitted, made surgical dressings, and entertained service men at the Young Men's Christian Union. On April 29, 1919, she sailed for France as a member of the Radcliffe Unit with Hester Browne, Julia Collier, and Anna Holman.

The Radcliffe Unit returned in May 1920 and Burrage resumed her social service and welfare work. She was employed by the Children's Island Sanatorium, Marblehead, Massachusetts, and became its director in 1922. In 1921 she was appointed to the Nominating Committee of the governing board of North Bennet Street Industrial School and to the Executive Committee in 1925.

During the fall of 1927 she contracted typhoid fever and died suddenly on November 6, 1927.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 71-73

The papers of Mary Ursula Burrage were given to the Schlesinger Library in June 1971 by her sister, Elizabeth Burrage.

Processing Information

Processed: May 1981

By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Burrage, Mary Ursula, 1892-1927. Letters of Mary Ursula Burrage, 1919-1920: 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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