Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: A-108

Papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code, 1953-1961 (inclusive), 1953-1955 (bulk)


Correspondence, travel journal, etc., of Marion Osborne Graves Code, Red Cross volunteer, writer, and critic.


  • Creation: 1953-1961
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1953-1955

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Marion Osborne Graves Code 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.


.63 linear feet (1 + 1/2 file boxes)

Marion Osborne Graves Code's journals and letters, dated from January 1953 through February 1955, describe the journey to India, her search for intellectual satisfaction and a peaceful life in the philosophy and customs of India, her initial enthusiasm and eventual dissatisfaction. On the basis of her travels in India and her active participation in social projects, she was able to record observations on social life and customs and descriptions of her companions.

Code died in India in February 1955, apparently in a drowning accident. The last letters in this collection are from Code's friends in India to Grant Code and speculate on the nature of the accident.

#1-7 were given to the Schlesinger Library by Grant Code in October 1961. They contain the original manuscript journal entries and letters written by Code in India between 1953 and 1955. #8-31 were given by Boston University Library (Special Collections) in July 1981, and contain the typescripts of the journals and letters, edited by Grant Code for possible publication.


Marion Osborne Graves Code was born in 1896 in Boston, Massachusetts, and for her first 20 years lived in Cambridge near Harvard University. Most of her friends were associated with Harvard or generally with the academic and artistic worlds. Code's mother was an accomplished singer and piano player; discouraged by her family from pursuing a career in "light" opera (her voice was not "big" enough for "grand" opera), she spent most of her life as an interior decorator, doing business mainly in New York, St. Louis and Paris. Code's father was an architect, ceramic engineer, and manufacturer of vases and tiles. In Code's youth, the family was quite wealthy, but lost most of its money through unfortunate investments; although luxuries and the arts were taken for granted, the family was usually in debt. Code was educated in Cambridge private schools: Buckingham School, the Cambridge School for Girls, and Radcliffe College. She graduated from Radcliffe cum laude in 1918.

Code's work as a Red Cross volunteer in Boston during World War I resulted in a life-long horror of war; for many years she worked with the War Resister's League in New York and Philadelphia.

After the war, Code married a Harvard classmate, Grant Code, a freelance writer, poet and critic who taught at Harvard for eight years and was an officer of several art institutions. Like the Graves family, the Codes were always in debt and devoted to the arts they could not afford.

Code's jobs, most of them editorial or secretarial, included work in General Hugh Johnson's office at the National Recovery Administration (NRA) during the early years of the Roosevelt administration. She also did some nightclub and stage work, and sang in choruses and choirs.

When the Code's one son was killed in a railroad accident at the age of 15, Code moved to Philadelphia; she and Grant Code, who remained in New York, corresponded and visited back and forth. Code attended the lectures of Swami Yatiswarananda, and helped edit his lectures. The Swami returned to India, and wrote Code asking her to help him write a book. Code had just received a small inheritance, and decided to go to India to search for the spiritual values she found lacking in the western world.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 359, 81-M194

The papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code were given to the Schlesinger Library in October 1961 by her husband, Grant Code; the Special Collections department of Boston University Library gave additional papers in July 1981.


  1. Box 1: 1-23
  2. Box 2: 24-31

Processing Information

Processed: October 1981

By: Gene Thompson

Code, Marion Osborne Graves, 1896-1955. Papers of Marion Osborne Graves Code, 1953-1961 (inclusive), 1953-1955 (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.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA