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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 333

Papers of Mary Pillsbury Lord, 1927-1972


Correspondence, speeches, articles, etc., of Mary Pillsbury Lord, civic worker.


  • Creation: 1927-1972

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Pillsbury Lord 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.


1.67 linear feet (4 file boxes)

The Mary Pillsbury Lord collection has been divided into five series, each arranged chronologically. There are some papers from Lord's early life but most of the collection covers the period 1938-1970.

Series I, Biographical, contains biographical information, including awards, correspondence, and articles about Lord, photographs and family material. A transcript of an interview Lord taped for the Smith (College) Centennial Study explores the development of her ideas and provides an illuminating discussion of her activities in the 1960s.

Series II, Family correspondence, consists of letters and itineraries from Lord to her husband, sons, and mother during her trips to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Although most of the trips were prompted by her involvement with the United Nations and various organizations, her letters generally say little about her official duties and concentrate instead on describing in detail the places she visited, the people she met, and conversations with various prominent friends whom she met or with whom she traveled. Some letters do discuss public events, most notably a 40-page one from Ethiopia (December 1960, see #20), describing an attempted revolution that occurred during her stay.

Series III, Organizations, mainly 1940s, contains correspondence, speeches, reports, and clippings mostly derived from Lord's work for the New York World's Fair, the Office of Civilian Defense, the National Advisory Committee for the Women's Army Corps, and the Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon Committee. Correspondence between Lord and various high-ranking military officers (see #29) deals with the role of the WACS and the establishment of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. To facilitate the recruitment of women for the WACS, a female ROTC program was proposed. A detailed report of this program and its method of implementation is in #29. The correspondence between Lord and prominent Republicans during the early 1950s, particularly the letters from Walter Williams, discusses in great detail the strategy of the 1952 Eisenhower presidential campaign. The speeches in this series are those given by Mary Pillsbury Lord in support of the World's Fair, the Office of Civilian Defense, and the Republican party.

Series IV, United Nations, contains correspondence, speeches, statements, articles, and clippings. The correspondence consists mainly of requests from magazines, news agencies, and social action organizations for speeches or statements concerning human rights and other international issues with which the United Nations was concerned. The speeches, a few addressed to the General Assembly but most to meetings of social action organizations and college commencements, deal mainly with the promotion of world understanding and peace, and the United Nation's role in accomplishing this goal; however some discuss contemporary international issues: the 1956 war between Egypt and Israel, the Hungarian refugees, and the world hunger problem. Information on the establishment of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, in which Lord was a key figure, is in #39.

Series V, Organizations, etc., mainly 1960s, contains correspondence, speeches, reports, and clippings. Two volumes, "New York Women and Their Changing World," and "Message to the Legislature" (by Nelson Rockefeller), include the recommendations of a report published by the New York Committee for the Education and Employment of Women while Lord was the chairman; there is also correspondence praising the report. Other correspondence includes requests for interviews and speaking engagements and invitations for Mary Pillsbury Lord and Oswald Bates Lord to attend President Johnson's inauguration. #47-48 contain material on Lord's tour of East Asia for the State Department, during which she met with various groups to discuss such topics as Organizing Volunteers for Public Service, New Ways to Utilize Women's Skills and Strengths, and Encouraging Civic Responsibility through Welfare Service. #50 includes reports from her trip to Vietnam in August 1969 for the Committee for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam and related papers. Lord was vice-chairman of this committee.


Mary Pillsbury Lord was born on November 14, 1904, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Charles Stinson and Nelle Pendleton (Winston) Pillsbury and a descendant of the founder of the Pillsbury Flour Mills Co. She attended St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Maryland, before enrolling in Smith College, where she majored in French and was graduated cum laude in 1927. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and later received honorary degrees from twelve institutions. She married Oswald Bates Lord, a textile manufacturer, on December 7, 1929; they had two sons, Charles Pillsbury and Winston.

Lord began her career as a volunteer social worker in Minneapolis; after her marriage, she became a volunteer case worker in New York. She was a director of the East Side Settlement House, 1939-1943, and president of the Junior League of New York, 1936-1938. In 1940, Lord became chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Women's Participation in the World's Fair. During World War II, she served as Assistant Regional Director of the Office of Civilian Defense and in 1944 was appointed chairman of the National Civilian Advisory Committee of the Women's Army Corps, which enabled her to tour army installations in the United States, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. During one of these tours she met General Dwight D. Eisenhower, for whom she campaigned as co-chairman of Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon in the 1952 Presidential campaign.

Lord also organized and chaired the U.S. Committee for UNICEF beginning in 1947. In 1953, she was appointed by President Eisenhower to succeed Eleanor Roosevelt as the United States representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. She served as an alternate United States representative to the General Assembly, 1953-1959, and was appointed a United States representative in 1960. In connection with her work for the United Nations, Lord traveled at her own expense to almost all the countries of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. During this time she also wrote numerous articles and delivered speeches both in the United States and abroad to advocate the work of the United Nations and the Human Rights Commission.

After her resignation from the United States Mission to the United Nations in 1961, Lord continued to travel abroad, entertain foreigners visiting the U.S., and organize volunteers. Most notably she chaired the (New York) Governor's Committee on the Education and Employment of Women and worked with the Citizens for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam Committee. She was also president of the International Rescue Committee and a governor of the Atlantic Institute. She died at home on July 21, 1978.


  1. Series I. Biographical 1927-1972 #1-7
  2. Series II. Family correspondence 1939-1969 #8-24
  3. Series III. Organizations, 1938-1959 #25-30
  4. Series IV. United Nations 1953-1961 #31-42
  5. Series V. Organizations, 1959-1970 #43-51

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 55-49, 55-88, 57-92, 183, 74-249, 74-221, 74-285, 76-97, 76-114, 81-M213

The papers of Mary Pillsbury Lord were given to the Schlesinger Library between 1955 and April 1976 by Mary Pillsbury Lord, and in September 1981 by her husband, Oswald Bates Lord.


  1. Box 1: 1-16
  2. Box 2: 17-32
  3. Box 3: 33-38
  4. Box 4: 39-51

Processing Information

Processed: December 1981

By: Nadine Parker

Lord, Mary Pillsbury, 1904-1978. Papers of Mary Pillsbury Lord, 1927-1972: 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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