Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: SC 149

Papers of Frances Siegel, 1927-2008


Correspondence, photographs, awards, and travelogs of labor activist Frances Siegel, Radcliffe College Class of 1931.


  • Creation: 1927-2008


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright 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.


3.55 linear feet ((8+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder)

This collection consists of biographical information, personal correspondence (much of which relates to her labor advocacy, as well as gives insight into political and current events), travel documents and photographs. Additionally there are printed materials relating to the labor movement, travel and cultural activities, as well as some music.

Series I. Personal (1.1-2.10, 8.6, 9.1m-9.5) includes biographical information, her FBI file, awards, memorabilia, programs, an obituary and remarks from her memorial service, and photographs of Siegel, her family and friends, and many photographs documenting her travels around the world.

Series II. Correspondence (2.10-4.23) includes personal correspondence spanning Frances Siegel's lifetime. The early correspondence documents her years at Radcliffe and involvement in the National Student League. The undated letters from here sister, Mary Siegel '26, shed particular light on her time at Radcliffe, the Great Depression, and her commitment to the labor movement. The bulk of the correspondence is from friends made through her work with George Sarton, her involvement with the New England chapter of the Labor Resource Association, and friends made while travelling, both native to the country and travel companions. The correspondence also contains a great deal of evidence on current events and political situations in the United States, as well as in Europe, the Soviet Union, China and India. Letters from Anant Pandya, written on his trip across the United States and Canada, as well as en route to India via Europe, give a unique view of the United States from a foreigner's perspective, through observations about labor and politics.

Series III. Travel (4.24-6.4) includes brochures, travel itineraries, pamphlets, postcards, information regarding safe travel in Cuba and South America, and miscellaneous other printed materials related to Frances' travel. Places of travel include Mexico, South America, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Europe, Canada and the United States.

Series IV. Printed Materials (6.5-8.5) contains items from Frances Siegel's personal library, including music and art, labor publications and periodicals, communist and socialist publications, political satire, peace pamphlets, and printed materials on travel abroad.


Frances Siegel was born March 24, 1909, the daughter of Myer Siegel and Annie Siegel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She received her AB from Radcliffe College (1931) in Economics, focusing on Labor Economics.

While at Radcliffe, Frances Siegel worked part-time as a secretary for Harvard Professor George Sarton, the editor of Isis, a journal on the history of science, medicine and technology and their cultural influences. After graduation, Frances Siegel went to New York City looking for employment, but with the scarcity of jobs due to the Great Depression, she returned to Cambridge. Briefly, she worked (January-April 1932) for Professor Arthur Lamb, proofreading the Journal of the American Chemical Society. From 1934 to 1952, Frances Siegel returned to work as a secretary for George Sarton in Cambridge, Massachusetts, assisting in proofreading, editing, and compiling bibliographies on the history of science for Isis, as well as compiling the indices to Volumes 2 and 3 of Sarton's Introduction to the History of Science. During this time, Frances Siegel corresponded frequently with Dr. Alexander Pogo, the Astronomy Editor at Isis. Later in her life (start date unknown) until 1974, Frances Siegel worked as an administrative assistant for various professors in the biochemistry department at Brandeis University.

Although Frances Siegel was never able to find work within her field of interest she devoted much of her life to the labor movement, as well as other peace and social justice organizations. From 1935 to 1939, she volunteered as a secretary for the Labor Research Association, where she edited the association's monthly bulletin and prepared several reports for local trade unions. Although sympathetic to the Communist Party, it is unknown whether she was actually a party member. Her support caused the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate her for "subversive activities" during the 1940s and 1950s, according to her college file.

Frances Siegel's advocacy and support focused on peace and anti-nuclear organizations, progressive and leftist politics and political candidates, and health care reform. Among the local Cambridge and Massachusetts organizations she worked for were the Massachusetts Tenants Organization and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. Other organizations she supported were the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the B'nai B'rith Anti-defamation League, and United Farm Workers of America. She subscribed to several progressive periodicals, including The Nation and contributed to People's Weekly World (formerly the Daily Worker). She was, wrote the former editor of People's Weekly World, Tim Wheeler, a "legendary contributor." Frances Siegel's collection of pins and buttons illustrate her support of numerous labor, peace, and social justice organizations and movements, including a pin most likely from the 1930s, advocating "Save the Spanish refugees."

For her contributions, Frances Siegel received many awards, including recognition from the National Committee of Christians and Jews for "Outstanding Service to the ideals of brotherhood and for the dedication to the betterment of mankind and the improvement of human relations" (1983), from the City of Cambridge a resolution for outstanding community service (2006), and the John Phillip Sousa Award (September 10, 1984), in recognition of outstanding advocacy efforts made on behalf of Cambridge-Somerville elders. This award was given by the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, the Cambridge Council on Aging, the Somerville Council on Aging, and the Cambridge Committee of Elders.

Frances Siegel traveled extensively abroad to Mexico, the Soviet Union, Cuba (a Women Strike for Peace tour), and South America, as well as all over the United States and Canada. Throughout her life Frances Siegel maintained correspondence with many traveling companions and friends that she met during her travels.

In the later years of her life Frances Siegel continued to live in Cambridge, but spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine with her sisters Mary Russak and Fannie Jacobs. Frances Siegel died on January 12, 2006.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Personal
  2. Series II. Correspondence
  3. Series III. Travel
  4. Series IV. Printed Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: R2006-5

These papers were given to the Archives by Barbara Messore, Fraces Siegel's niece, in April 2006. The FBI file was acquired by the Archives in January 2008.


Donors: Barbara Messore

Accession number: R2006-5

Processed by: Amanda Schmidt

The following printed materials have been removed from the collection and returned to the Tess Oliver.

  1. Labor Research Association (U.S.) Monopoly today. New York: International Pub., 1950.
  2. Labor Research Association (U.S.) Trends in American capitalism : profits and living standards. New York : International Publishers, 1948.
  3. Olden, Herman. U.S. over Latin America [by] Herman Olden in collaboration with Labor Research Association. New York: International Publishers, 1955.
  4. Textile Workers Union of America. Half a million forgotten people : the story of the cotton textile workers. New York : Textile Workers Union of America, 1944.
  5. Haskell, Edward. Retrogression; a poetic interpretation of reaction. New York, Galleon Pres, Inc., 1936.
  6. Costello, E. J. The shame that is Kentucky's : the story of the Harlan mine war Huntington, W. Va. : Appalachian Movement Press, 1972.
  7. King-Ramsay-Conner Defense Committee. The ship murder; the story of a frameup. San Francisco, King-Ramsay-Conner Defense Committee, 1937?.
  8. Jones, Joe. Catalog, November 10-30, 1940. [chiefly plates] New York, A.C.A. Gallery, 1940.
  9. Seidman, Joel Isaac. Sit-down by Joel Seidman. A G.M. stockholder visits Flint, by Robert Morss Lovett. New York City: League for Industrial Democracy, 1937.
  10. Lawson, Elizabeth. Thaddeus Stevens. New York, International Publishers, 1942.
  11. Budish, Jacob M. The changing structure of the working class. In collaboration with Labor Research Association. New York, International Publishers,1962.
  12. Stewart, Maxwell Slutz. What foreign trade means to you, by Maxwell S. Stewart. New York, Public affairs committee, inc., 1945.
  13. Dunn, Robert W. Spying on workers. New York, International Pamphlets, 1932.
  14. Quin, Mike. The enemy within. San Francisco, Calif.: People's World, 1941.
  15. Davenport, Donald H. Transferring workers to peacetime production; an address delivered at the tenth of the Second series of conferences of the Institute on the general subject: Postwar goals and economic reconstruction. [New York, 1944]
  16. Whitman, Alden. Labor parties, 1827-1834. New York, International publishers [c1943].
  17. London, Jack. The apostate. Chicago, C.H. Kerr, [192-?].
  18. Allen, James Stewart. Who owns America?. New York: New Century, 1946.
  19. California Labor School. History of the American labor movement, 1700-1943. San Francisco, Tom Mooney Labor School, [1943?]
  20. Todes, Charlotte. William H. Sylvis and the National Labor Union, New York: International Publishers, 1942.
  21. Stewart, Maxwell Slutz. There can be jobs for all!, New York, Public Affairs Committee, Inc., 1945.
  22. Pierson, John Herman Groesbeck. Fiscal policy for full employment, sponsored as a technical report by the Labor committee on national policy of the National planning association. [Washington, National Planning Association, 1945]
  23. Vasilevskii, E. M. The land of inventors. Moscow, Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R., 1933.
  24. Marchwitza, Hans. Sturm auf Essen; die Kämpfe der Ruhrarbeiter gegen Kapp, Watter und Severing. Mit einem Nachwort von Frank Rainer Scheck. [Köln] Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1972.
  25. Mitchell, Kate Louise. India without fable, a 1942 survey, New York, A. A. Knopf, c1942.
  26. Sudermann, Hermann. Die Ehre. Schauspiel in vier akten, Stuttgart, J.G. Cotta, 1901.
  27. Minton, Bruce. Men who lead labor, by Bruce Minton and John Stuart; with drawings by Scott Johnston. New York: Modern Age Books, Inc., c1937.
  28. Zhivkov, Todor. By and for the people: building an advanced Socialist society in Bulgaria, edited by Marilyn Bechtel. New York: NWR Publications, 1977.
  29. The Kaufman papers: United States government documents concerning the trial judge in the Rosenberg-Sobell case, obtained from the F.B.I. as a result of the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit instituted to force the release of all related government files.
  30. The Mood of the nation (November 22-29, 1963): a news documentary of a steadfast citizenry, with an appraisal by H.H. Wilson; compiled by Charlotte Pomerantz. New York: Marzani & Munsell, c1964.
  31. Labor Research Association (U.S.) Labor and the war. New York, International Publishers, 1943
  32. Labor Research Association (U.S.) Labor fact book. New York, International Publishers. 17 v.
  33. Labor Research Association (U.S.) Wages and profits in wartime. New York, International Publishers, [c1941].
  34. Howard, Sidney Coe. The labor spy with the collaboration of Robert Dunn. New York: Republic Pub. Co., 1924.
  35. Russell, Bertrand. Education and the good life. New York : Boni & Liveright, 1926.
  36. Epictetus. The moral discourses of Epictetus; tr. by Elizabeth Carter. London, J.M. Dent & sons, ltd.; New York, E.P. Dutton & co., 1928.
  37. Durant, Will. The case for India, New York : Simon and Schuster, 1930. x, 228 p., 1 l. 19 cm.
  38. Heine, Heinrich. Buch der Lieder von H. Heine. Hamburg, bei Hoffmann und Campe. 1847. Paris, chez J.J. Dubochet et cie., rue de Seine, 33. xx.
  39. Dutt, R. Palme. Problem of India. New York, International Publishers, 1943.
  40. Proust, Marcel. Swann's way. Translated from the French, by C. K. Scott Moncrieff. New York, Vintage Books [1970, c1928]
  41. Omar Khayyam. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. 2d ed., thoroughly rev. and enl. / rendered into English by A. R. Tariq. Lahore : Sh. Ghulam Ali, 1975.

The following sound recordings have been removed from the collection and donated to the Library of Congress:

  1. Atcher, Rob. Answer to You Are My Sunshine [sound recording] Dick Robinson and his orchestra, Fox Trot vocal chorus. Decca Records.
  2. Brodyn, Maxim. Hatzlichu Nu. [sound recording] Stinson Records, 1940-49?
  3. Caruso, Enrico. SCALA 854 [sound recording] vol. 2
  4. Chaliapin, Feodor Ivanovich. SCALA 801 [sound recording]
  5. Clarke, Henry Leland. Winter 1776, [sound recording] words by Thomas Paine. Albert M. Basso [performer].
  6. Dvorak, Antonin. Slavonic Dances Opp 46 and 72 [sound recording] Sejna, Karel [conducter] Artia Recording Corporation, 1961.
  7. Five Russian recordings, all labeled in Russian.
  8. Guthrie, Woody; Houston, Cisco; White, Josh; Glazer, Tom; Hawes, Butch; Songs for Victory, music for political action [sound recording] Asch Records, 1944.
  9. Oliver, Bill. Kevin Barry [sound recording] Musart Records.
  10. Nuno, Jaime. Himno Nacional Mexicano [sound recording] Brunswick Record Corp, 1937.
  11. Reyes, Lucha. Lan Panchita - Cancion Mexicana [sound recording] Victor Record Mexicana.
  12. Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay. Scheherazade, Op. 35 Artur Rodzinski [conductor], The Cleveland Orchestra.
  13. Ship, Reuben. The Investigator; a political satire in documentary form. [sound recording] Radio Rarities, Inc. c1954.
  14. Smetana, Bedrich and Zdenek Chalabala [conductor] The Bartered Bride: comic opera in 3 acts [sound recording] Prague: Supraphon, 1983?
  15. Symonette, George and his calypso sextette. Mama Out De Light and Mr. Pennaman's Daughter [sound recording] The Bahamas: ART; American Transcription Services.
  16. Szostakowicz, Dmitri. Symphony No. 56 (Opus 47) [sound recording] Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, 6 record set.
  17. Tamez, Felix and Ben Martinez. Las Cuatro Milp a - Vals Cancion. [sound recording] Camden, NJ: RCA Manufacturing.

The following sound recordings have been removed from the collection and donated to The Guthrie Center:

  1. American Ballad Singers. Two Centuries of American Folk Songs. [sound recording] Elie Siegmeister, Director. Camden, N.J.: Victor, 1940.
  2. Casetta, Mario. The Peekskill Story [sound recording] with Paul Robeson, Howard Fast, Pete Seeger and the Weavers, People's Artists with Charter Records.
  3. Guthrie, Woody. Library of Congress recordings. [sound recording] Recording made by Alan Lomax with the Union Boys in 1940. Cambridge, Mass. : Rounder, 1988.
  4. Loring, Michael and Earl Robinson, Abe Lincoln [side A] and Joe Hill [side B] [sound recording] Modern Record Co., TAC Record label.
  5. New York City Labor Chorus. Live! '93. [sound recording], New York, NY: New York City Labor Chorus, 1993.
  6. Robeson, Paul. Encore, Robeson!. [sound recording] Monitor Records, 1959-61.
  7. Robeson, Paul. Paul Robeson [sound recording]. Wadhurst, E. Sussex, England : Pearl, 1989.
  8. Robeson, Paul. Paul Robeson at Carnegie Hall [sound recording]. New York, NY : Vanguard Recordings, 1958.
  9. Robeson, Paul. Peace Arch Concert [sound recording], 1952.
  10. Robeson, Paul. Spirituals and A Robeson Recital of Popular Favorites [sound recording]. New York : Columbia Masterworks, [1948?]
  11. Robinson, Earl. The Lonesome Train (A Musical Legend) [sound recording] Norman Corwin, dir., 1944.
  12. Robinson, Earl. Ballad For Americans [sound recording] sung by: Paul Robeson, RCA Victor, 1939.
  13. Thomas, John Charles. I Hear America Singing [sound recording] performed with the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union Radio Chorus, Nathaniel Shilkret, dir., New York: RCA Camden, 1957?.
  14. Rubin, Ruth. Jewish Folk Songs [sound recording] Asch Records, 1947?

Processing Information

Processed: July 2006

By: Amanda Schmidt

Siegel, Frances, 1909-2006. Papers of Frances Siegel, 1927-2008: A Finding Aid
Radcliffe College Archives, 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