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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 600: T-204

Papers of Lucile Atcherson Curtis, 1863-1986 (inclusive), 1917-1927 (bulk)


Papers of Lucile Atcherson Curtis, member of the American Committee for Devastated France and the first woman in the U.S. Foreign Service.


  • Creation: 1863-1986
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1917-1927

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted, except that an appointment is required for access to audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Lucile Atcherson Curtis 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.


4.59 linear feet ((11 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 16 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 audiotape, 1 object)

The papers of Lucile Atcherson Curtis include correspondence, diaries, printed materials, photographs, etc., documenting Curtis' work with the American Committee for Devastated France and with the United States Foreign Service. Materials arrived at the library unfoldered and lacking any organizational order. Folder titles and the file arrangement were created by the archivist.

Series I, PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL, 1894-1986 (#1.1-5.2, OD.1, T-204.1, Mem.1), includes resumes, diaries, address books, clippings, award certificates, notes, printed material, etc., documenting Curtis' personal and professional lives. Materials relating to the American Committee for Devastated France do not document Curtis' contributions to the organization, but generally document the organization's activities through reports, newsletters, and other printed materials. Curtis' work for the Foreign Service is documented in printed materials listing employees in the Foreign Service and where they were assigned. Retrospective accounts of her contributions can be found in tributes from the 1978 U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Day honoring Curtis, and in Women in American Foreign Affairs (#4.2), which contains a section on Curtis. Folders are arranged with resumes and clippings about Curtis first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement of the remaining files.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1901-1985 (#5.3-9.9), includes courtship correspondence between Lucile Atcherson and George Morris Curtis; letters to the Curtises from their daughters, Charlotte and Mary; letters supporting Lucile Atcherson Curtis' campaign to be appointed to the Foreign Service; etc. Folders are arranged with letters exchanged by Lucile Atcherson and George Morris Curtis first, followed by letters from their daughters, and the remaining correspondence arranged chronologically.

Series III, FAMILY PAPERS, 1863-1974 (#9.10-11.11, F+D.1), contains correspondence, clippings, writings, passports, etc., documenting the lives of members of Lucile Atcherson and George Morris Curtis' families. Included are letters Lucile Atcherson Curtis wrote to her parents, Charlotte and Frederick W. Atcherson, while working in France for the American Committee for Devastated France and while serving in the Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., Switzerland, and Panama. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1896-1981 (#PD.1-PD.17), contains portraits and candid photographs of Lucile Atcherson Curtis as well as her family and friends. Also included are photographs documenting post-World War I France and the work done by the American Committee for Devastated France. Folders are arranged with photographs of Lucile Atcherson Curtis first, followed by those of members of her family, and one folder of miscellaneous photographs.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Lucile Atcherson Curtis, daughter of Charlotte (Ray) and Frederick W. Atcherson, was born October 11, 1894, in Columbus, Ohio. She attended Miss Phelps' Collegiate School and the Columbus School for Girls and received her A.B. from Smith College in 1913.

From 1914 to 1917, she was Executive Secretary of the Franklin County [Ohio] Woman Suffrage Society. In September 1917, she went to France as a staff member of the American Fund for French Wounded. In 1918, she joined the staff of the American Committee for Devastated France, where she assisted in the Committee's efforts to provide basic health care and social services and to physically restore eleven villages in the Coucy-le-Château area of the Departement de l'Aisne. In 1919, she was transferred by the Committee to Paris to oversee the Paris office and all personnel. She resigned in 1921. For her work to help rebuild France, she was awarded the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française in 1919.

In 1922, Curtis passed the examination for the U.S. Diplomatic Service. She was nominated by President Warren G. Harding for secretary of the Diplomatic Service and was confirmed by the Senate on December 5, 1922. From 1922 to 1924, she was assigned to the Division of Latin American Affairs in the Department of State in Washington, D.C., with site visits to Panama and Haiti. From 1925 to 1927, she served as Third Secretary of the Legation at Berne, Switzerland. In 1927, she was transferred as Third Secretary of the Legation in Panama. Curtis resigned from the Foreign Service on September 19, 1927, to marry.

Curtis married George Morris Curtis on January 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois. Curtis, the son of A.B. (Anson Bartie) and Mae Christie Curtis, was born April 2, 1890, in Big Rapids, Michigan. He received his B.A. and Ph.D in anatomy from the University of Michigan and his M.D. from Rush Medical College in Chicago. While an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, he spent a two-year sabbatical in Berne, Switzerland, where he met Lucile Atcherson. Following their marriage, the Curtises settled in Chicago, where their daughters Charlotte Murray Curtis (1928-1987) and Mary (Curtis) Davey (born 1930) were born. In 1932, they moved to Columbus, where Dr. Curtis became Chairman of the Department of Research Surgery at Ohio State University.

Lucile Curtis was a board member of several civic institutions, including the Columbus Council on World Affairs, the Columbus Philharmonic, the Columbus Public Health Nursing Service, and the Franklin County Mental Health Association.

George Morris Curtis died December 23, 1965. Lucile Atcherson Curtis died May 9, 1986, in Columbus, Ohio.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Personal and professional, 1894-1986 (#1.1-5.2, OD.1, T-204.1, Mem.1)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1901-1985 (#5.3-9.9)
  3. Series III. Family papers, 1863-1974 (#9.10-11.11, F+D.1)
  4. Series IV. Photographs, ca.1896-1981 (#PD.1-PD.17)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 87-M62, 90-M145

The papers of Lucile Atcherson Curtis were given to the library by Charlotte Curtis in April 1987, and by her son-in-law William E. Hunt in August 1990.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; the Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project interviews (OH-40) and the papers of Curtis' daughter, Charlotte Curtis (MC 592).


Donors: Charlotte Curtis, William E. Hunt

Accession numbers: 87-M62, 90-M145

Processed by: Johanna Carll

The following items have been transferred to the Women's Newsletter and Periodical Collection (Pr-4):

  1. The Vote: The Organ of the Women's Freedom League, Vol. XXVI, No. 811, Friday, May 8, 1925
  2. L'International Féminin: Organe belge d'Informations Féministes, Mai-Juin 1925

Processing Information

Processed: June 2009

By: Johanna Carll

Curtis, Lucile Atcherson, 1894-1986. Papers of Lucile Atcherson Curtis, 1863-1986 (inclusive), 1917-1927 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1955.

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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