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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 369: M-101

Papers Winifred Lockhart Willis, 1917-1982


Journals, correspondence, scrapbooks, etc., of Winifred Lockhart Willis, journalist and creative writer.


  • Creation: 1917-1982

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Winifred Lockhart Willis 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) plus 2 folio folders, part of reel of microfilm (M-101)

This collection consists of photographs of Willis and her family; journals; personal and business correspondence; manuscripts of poetry, drama, and fiction by Willis; scrapbooks containing clippings of articles and columns by her; and correspondence and clippings pertaining to her civil rights work. The journals are largely introspective, dealing with her family life and her life as a writer, with few references to her public activities. They begin with number 36, the earlier thirty-five having been lost or destroyed; the collection includes both the manuscript originals and typed transcripts by Willis, some with editorial changes.


Winifred Lockhart Willis, journalist and writer, was born on March 23, 1902, in Brooklyn, New York. Willis began her writing career as a poet; her verse was accepted for publication by Manhattan newspapers and such magazines as Ladies' Home Journal, Leslie's Weekly, and Brief Stories. Willis later turned to prose, publishing her first short story in 1923. She subsequently wrote short stories and articles for Ladies' Home Journal and Collier's, and book reviews for Vogue; in the early 1930s she was on the editorial staff of Judge magazine, to which she also contributed as a freelance writer. In the 1930s and 40s, Willis' stories and poetry also appeared in The New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, and Punch, and she was a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Herald Tribune.

Twice married, Willis lived for a time in Hollywood with her second husband, John Speaks, who was an executive producer at RKO Studios; during their residence there, Willis was a script writer for Twentieth Century Fox. In 1946 they moved to Westport, Connecticut, where Speaks died in 1965 and Willis in 1982. Throughout much of her life, sometimes following a lapse of decades, Willis kept journals and other accounts of her family and personal life. Her only son, Andy, and the long-lasting effects of his death in a motorcycle accident, figure prominently in these accounts.

In later years, as a civil rights advocate, Willis participated in various nation-wide activities and served on the executive board of the Bridgeport-Stamford branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 83-M270, 84-M88, 84-M139. Accession number 2015-M185 (folder #48) was added in November 2015.

The papers of Winifred Lockhart Willis were given to the Schlesinger Library by Harriet Sabine, sister of Winifred Willis Speaks, in December 1983 and in May and August 1984. A partial copy of "New York Child" was given to the Schlesinger Library by Annie Yocum Stanley in November 2015.


  1. Box 1: 2v-8v
  2. Box 2: 9v-17
  3. Box 3: 18-24, 27-29
  4. Box 4: 29a-35, 39-44, 46-48

Processing Information

Processed: August 1985

By: Anne Engelhart, Bert Hartry, Sarah E. King

Willis, Winifred Lockhart, 1902-1982. Papers of Winifred Lockhart Willis, 1917-1982: 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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