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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 429

Papers of Lucy Poate Stebbins, 1732-1994 (inclusive), 1876-1958 (bulk)


Correspondence, photographs, writings, etc., of Lucy Poate Stebbins, author.


  • Creation: 1732-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1876-1958

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Lucy Poate Stebbins 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. Unrestricted.


6.46 linear feet (15+1/2 file boxes)

This collection has been divided into two series: Lucy Poate Stebbins papers, and Family papers.

Series I, Lucy Poate Stebbins papers (#1-253), primarily documents Stebbin's career as a writer. Correspondence of both Lucy Poate Stebbins and Richard Poate Stebbins with publishers and agents includes contracts and royalty statements. Other correspondents include Jacques Barzun, Walter Damrosch, Theodore Schorske, and Henry Allen Moe, to whom Stebbins wrote first about a grant from the Oberlaender Trust (1938), and then one from the Guggenheim Foundation (1944). The series also includes drafts of published and unpublished writings, notes and research material, published articles and books, a scrapbook of clippings, biographical material, personal correspondence, and condolence letters to the family after Stebbin's death. This material was arranged by Richard Poate Stebbins while writing the above-mentioned biography of Stebbins. His inventory of the Stebbins papers, with the original folder headings, can be found in folder #1.

Series II, Family papers (#254-291), includes letters written by Lucy Poate Stebbins's mother, Belle Marsh Poate, while serving as a missionary in Japan, to Mattie Means and family, relatives of her sister-in-law; and Richard Poate Stebbins's The Japan Experience: The Missionary Career of Belle Marsh Poate and Thomas Pratt Poate, 1876-1892 (1992), based in part on those letters. The series also includes genealogical material, histories of the Poate and Marsh families by Richard Poate Stebbins, and photographs. Most of this material was collected by Richard Poate Stebbins during the course of his own research and from other family members. Part of this series focuses on Lucy Poate Stebbins's sister, Elizabeth Poate Fleming, and includes a play, Company Cake: A Comedy in One Act (1932); children's books, among them her first full-length work, Gift from the Mikado (1958), based on her childhood in Japan; and letters from Elizabeth Poate Fleming and her children to the Stebbins family, 1977-1986.

Clippings were discarded after photocopying.


Author Lucy (Poate) Stebbins, known to her family as Daisy, was the third of five children born to Belle (Marsh) and Thomas Pratt Poate, Baptist missionaries in Japan. Stebbins was born in Portsmouth, England, while her parents were on furlough, and returned with them when she was nearly two years old. Although her father was originally from England, her mother was American, and the family settled in western New York State in 1892. Stebbins was educated in the public schools and graduated from the Fredonia Normal School in 1904. She taught school in Sherman and Mt. Vernon, New York until her marriage in 1910 to Howard Leslie Stebbins. In 1919 Howard Leslie Stebbins was named librarian of the Social Law Library in Boston. The family, which now included three children (Richard, Elizabeth, and Marabelle) moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where they resided until 1943, when they moved to Cambridge. Preoccupied with her domestic work, Lucy Poate Stebbins was not able to satisfy her literary aspirations until her children were in school. She was a literary advisor to the H.R. Huntting Co. of Springfield, Massachusetts, until 1928 when she published Old Adam's Likeness, the first of eight novels, and began her writing career. Her biographical and critical works include A Victorian Album: Some Lady Novelists of the Period (1946) and London Ladies: True Tales of the Eighteenth Century (1952), and three books written with her son Richard Poate Stebbins: Enchanted Wanderer: The Life of Carl Maria von Weber (1940), Frank Damrosch: Let the People Sing (1945), and The Trollopes: Chronicle of a Writing Family (1945). From 1945 to 1949 Lucy Poate Stebbins sat on the advisory board of The Trollopian, a journal devoted to studies of Trollope and his contemporaries. She died in Boston in 1958. A full account of her life can be found in So Hard the Stones: Lucy Poate Stebbins and Her Life in Literature (1993) by Richard Poate Stebbins.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Lucy Poate Stebbins papers (#1-253)
  2. Series II. Family papers (#254-291)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 94-M65, 94-M189

The papers of Lucy (Poate) Stebbins were given to the Schlesinger Library in May and December 1994 by her son, Richard Poate Stebbins.


The following works by Lucy Poate Stebbins have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Department, December 1994:

  1. The Trollopes: the Chronicle of a Writing Family (1945)
  2. A Victorian Album: Some Lady Novelists of the Period

The following works by Richard Poate Stebbins have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Department, December 1994:

  1. The Japan Experience: The Missionary Career of Belle Marsh Poate and Thomas Pratt Poate (1992)


  1. Box 1: 1-31
  2. Box 2: 32-67
  3. Box 3: 68-74
  4. Box 4: 75v-81v
  5. Box 5: 82-86, 90v-105
  6. Box 6: 106-138
  7. Box 7: 139-168
  8. Box 8: 169-176
  9. Box 9: 177-186
  10. Box 10: 187-197
  11. Box 11: 198-208
  12. Box 12: 209-224
  13. Box 13: 225-245
  14. Box 14: 246-259
  15. Box 15: 260-272v
  16. Box 16: 273-283
  17. Box 17: 223-234
  18. Box 18: 235-248
  19. Box 19: 249-257a

Processing Information

Processed: December 1994

By: Jacalyn R. Blume

Stebbins, Lucy Poate, 1886-1958. Papers of Lucy Poate Stebbins, 1732-1994 (inclusive), 1876-1958 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The collection was processed with support, in part, by a gift from the donor.

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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