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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 611

Papers of Katharine Wolcott Toll, 1809-2008 (inclusive), 1890-1985 (bulk)


Papers of journalist and social worker Katharine Toll and other members of the Toll family.


  • 1809-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1985

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Katharine Wolcott Toll is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. During her lifetime, permission to quote from papers created by Katharine Wolcott Toll must be obtained from Marguerite C. Toll. 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.


24.07 linear feet ((54 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 1 folio folder, 1 oversize folder, 11 photograph folders)

The papers of Katharine Wolcott Toll include correspondence, drafts, notes, diaries, medical records, photographs, etc., documenting Toll's personal life and her work as a reporter and social worker. Papers also document the lives of her parents, Charles Hansen and Mayes Martin Toll, as well as other family members. Some files arrived at the library in folders and those folder titles were retained. The archivist created folders for the loose materials and those folder titles appear in square brackets. The file arrangement was created by the archivist.

Series I, KATHARINE WOLCOTT TOLL, 1901-2010 (#1.1-31.1, 51.1-56.3, 50F+B.1-50F+B.3, FD.1, PD.1), includes correspondence, diaries, medical records, drafts, notes, etc. It is arranged in four subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1912-2008 (#1.1-15.5, 51.1-53.7, 50F+B.1-50F+B.3, FD.1), includes correspondence, diaries, medical records, notes, etc. Medical records include copies of Toll's official medical records as well as her notes on her treatments and on the doctors who treated her. Much of the material focuses on her diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy, which she did not develop until later in her life. Following World War II, Toll became involved with efforts to assist individuals and families displaced by the war to immigrate to the United States. She joined the New England Resettlement Committee, an organization that helped refugees from Germany find sponsors, jobs, and housing. Toll's files contain correspondence, notes, printed material, clippings, etc., relating primarily to her public relations work for the group. Toll's work with refugees led to an interest in international issues, which she pursued through her involvement with Technical and Educational Assistance Mission (TEAM), an activity of the United Council on World Events, whose purpose was "the education of the American community on the meaning and potential of international technical assistance." Her files include correspondence, notes, printed material, clippings, etc. Toll's diaries and calendars document her daily activities. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Professional, 1939-1984 (#15.6-19.11), includes correspondence, notes, printed material, etc., relating primarily to Toll's work for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the Boston Social Service Exchange. Toll served as the executive secretary of the Refugee Resettlement Program in the Department of Social Service for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, where she recruited, screened, and oriented organizations and individuals to sponsor refugee families. She also supervised plans for housing, employment, special training, etc., and performed environmental casework and referrals for the new arrivals in consultation with the Family Service Association of Greater Boston. She was executive director of the Boston Social Service Exchange where she helped develop standards and procedures for the exchange of professional case information, including research data. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, Correspondence, 1919-2010 (#19.12-25.11, 53.8-54.4, PD.1), contains correspondence with friends and family, mainly consisting of accounts of their activities and news of common friends and family. Much of the news focuses on members of the Toll family living in Denver, including accounts of visits there, which often resulted in small family reunions. Other correspondence relates to Toll's everyday life, including doctors' visits and financial matters. Files are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

Subseries D, Writings and related, 1901-2004 (#25.12-31.1, 54.5-56.3), contains drafts and printed articles by Toll, as well as background materials relating to her writings, including notes, printed materials, copies of letters, etc. Many of the writings are brief reminiscences of Toll's childhood in Amherst, Massachusetts, which may have been written for inclusion in her memoir, which she referred to as the "Snell Street Family Papers." Files on members of her family include writings, clippings, and copies of documents about them. Originals of these copies may or may not be included in this collection. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, CHARLES "CARL" HANSEN AND MAYES MARTIN TOLL, 1870-1979 (#31.2-43.12, OD.1), includes correspondence, diaries, articles, and other papers by Charles Toll, materials relating to his study of intelligence testing, talks by Mayes Martin Toll, etc. It is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1892-1972 (#31.2-34.9, OD.1), includes correspondence, diaries, articles, and other papers by Carl, talks by Mayes, etc. Also included are materials relating to Carl's study of intelligence testing, mainly consisting of forms used to test intelligence, some of which appear to have been developed by Carl. Files are arranged alphabetically with those relating to Carl first, followed by those relating to Mayes.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1870-1979 (#34.10-43.12), contains correspondence with family and friends as well as Carl's correspondence with professional colleagues. Both Carl and Mayes were from Denver, Colorado, and much of the correspondence contains news of local Denver events as well as accounts of the lives of family and friends living in Denver. Files are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

Series III, OTHER FAMILY, 1809-1959 (#44.1-49.14, 50F+B.4), contains correspondence, legal documents, scrapbooks, etc., belonging to members of the Toll family, including Katharine Wolcott Toll's grandparents, Charles Hansen and Katharine Ellen Wolcott Toll; her uncles, Henry, Roger, and Oliver Toll; and her brothers, Charles Hansen, III, Henry, and Caldwell Toll. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1882-1994 (#PD.2-PD.11), contains portrait and candid photographs of Katharine Wolcott Toll, Charles Hansen Toll, Mayes Martin Toll, Katharine Ellen Wolcott Toll, and other members of the Toll family. Also included are photographs of the New England Resettlement Committee resettlement center in Baldwinville, Massachusetts, at the Hospital Cottages for Children, and photographs of refugees taken mainly by D. Njezic for the International Refugee Organization in the United States Zone of Germany and by Foto-Looschen. The arrangement mirrors the arrangement of the paper documents.

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 [*].

Materials received by the Schlesinger Library in February 2014 were added to the collection in March 2014 and are represented in #51.1-56.3. Files in the original collection remain in the same order. Folders added in March 2014 are listed in intellectual, not sequential order.


Social worker and lieutenant in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Katharine Wolcott Toll was on born May 6, 1913, and grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Charles Hansen Toll, Jr., a professor of philosophy and psychology at Amherst College, and Mayes Martin Toll, a 1911 graduate of Wellesley College. She had three younger brothers: Charles Hansen Toll, III, Henry Caldwell Toll, and Caldwell Martin Toll. After graduating from Wellesley in 1935, Toll worked as parish secretary at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst before being assigned as winter sportswriter for the Boston Post, the first woman appointed to the position. Recruited to the WAVES where she served from 1942 to 1946, Toll returned to the Boston Post after the war as staff reporter (1946-1954).

As executive secretary for the Refugee Resettlement Program of the Department of Social Service for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (1954-1956), Toll organized the Massachusetts Association of Agencies Sponsoring Refugees and was the state representative to the American Conference on Immigration and Naturalization. In 1958 she earned a master's in social work from Boston University; she worked as executive director for the Mystic Valley Mental Health Association (1958-1961) and the Boston Social Service Exchange (1961-1968), and as information officer for the Tri-State Regional Medical Program.

Toll died on September 30, 2007, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Katharine Wolcott Toll, 1901-2010 (#1.1-31.1, 51.1-56.3, 50F+B.1-50F+B.3, FD.1, PD.1)
  2. ___Subseries A. Biographical and personal, 1912-2008 (#1.1-15.5, 51.1-53.7, 50F+B.1-50F+B.3, FD.1)
  3. ___Subseries B. Professional, 1939-1984 (#15.6-19.11)
  4. ___Subseries C. Correspondence, 1919-2010 (#19.12-25.11, 53.8-54.4, PD.1)
  5. ___Subseries D. Writings and related, 1901-2004 (#25.12-31.1, 54.5-56.3)
  6. Series II. Charles "Carl" Hansen and Mayes Martin Toll, 1870-1979 (#31.2-43.12, OD.1)
  7. ___Subseries A. Biographical and personal, 1892-1972 (#31.2-34.9, OD.1)
  8. ___Subseries B. Correspondence, 1870-1979 (#34.10-43.12)
  9. Series III. Other family, 1809-1959 (#44.1-49.14, 50F+B.4)
  10. Series IV. Photographs, 1882-1994 (#PD.2-PD.11)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2005-M170, 2006-M10, 2006-M37, 2006-M95, 2010-M212, 2014-M29, 2014-M200

These papers of Katharine Wolcott Toll were given to the library by Katharine Wolcott Toll via her goddaughter, Marguerite C. Toll, between November 2005 and June 2006. Additional material was given to the library by Carol Gonzalez in November 2010 and February and December 2014.


Correspondence found in the collection indicates that Katharine Wolcott Toll obtained the Toll family papers as part of her inheritance from her parents. Before Katharine's inheritance, Charles Hansen Toll had donated some papers to the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (see the Charles Hansen Toll papers, 1782-1972) and the American Antiquarian Society. Katharine donated the remaining family papers along with her own papers to several different repositories. The following is a list of related collections at a variety of repositories:

  1. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections. Toll Family Papers, consisting of family correspondence, ca.1890-1975, and genealogical records pertaining to the Toll, Wolcott, Martin, and Caldwell families.
  2. Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Katharine W. Toll Papers (WV0293), includes correspondence, photographs, personal journals, military papers, handbooks, newsletters and other publications, official reports, and newspapers, war posters, etc., relating to Katharine Wolcott Toll's service with WAVES (see finding aid) .
  3. Colorado History Museum. Information pertaining to Toll family migration and life in Colorado.
  4. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library. Ballet programs.
  5. Perry-Mansfield Camp. Applications, promotional material, photographs.
  6. Wellesley College Archives. Letters, journals, class assignments, photographs from Katharine Wolcott Toll (Class of 1935) and her mother, Mayes Martin Toll (Class of 1911).
  7. Williston-Northampton School. Katharine Wolcott Toll's junior high and high school assignments, letters and grades from the Northampton School for Girls.
  8. Sandy Bay Historical Association, Rockport, Massachusetts. Papers relating to the house at 2 Union Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts. Also accounts of the neighbors.
  9. Sawyer Free Library, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Papers concerning T.S. Eliot's life on Eastern Point, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Also interviews with Theresa Eliot, T.S. Eliot's sister-in-law.
  10. Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota. Boston Social Services Exchange papers.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2009

By: Johanna Carll

Toll, Katharine Wolcott. Papers of Katharine Wolcott Toll, 1809-2010 (inclusive), 1890-1985 (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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