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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 622: T-367: MP-11: Phon-53

Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1914-1989 (inclusive), 1960-1989 (bulk)


Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, physician and pioneer in the field of sex education, consisting of biographical material, speeches, conference material, correspondence, writings, audiotapes, photographs, clippings, etc.


  • Creation: 1914-1989
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-1989

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research, with the exception of folder #2.10 is closed until January 1, 2066. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Steichen Calderone is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in her published works, including specifically The First Picture Book, The Second Picture Book, and The Family Book about Sexuality is held by her heirs. Copyright in photographs by Edward Steichen is held by the Estate of Edward Steichen. Researchers must obtain copies and written permission from the estate in order to use them in publication. 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.


19.31 linear feet ((44 + 1/2 files boxes, 3 card file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 8 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 26 audiotapes, 1 motion picture, 4 phonograph disks)

These addenda from Mary Steichen Calderone and the Calderone family date mostly from 1960s through the 1980s, although there is a small amount of earlier material. Finding aids for earlier bodies of her papers received between 1968 and 1983 are available online (179; M-125; 73-150--81-M35; 82-M129; 83-M184; Vt-7). There is some overlap between the groups of papers. One folder of itineraries was added in March 2014 and is housed in #45.5.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1914-1988 (#1.1-3.3, PD.4), consists of an address book, appointment calendars, autobiographical material, awards and honorary degrees, biographical materials, clippings, personal correspondence, curricula vitae, interviews, membership cards and licenses, an oral history transcript, poetry, royalty statements, scrapbooks, etc. Most material regards Calderone, although there is a small amount of material about her father Edward Steichen, and her second husband Frank Calderone. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1933-1989 (#3.4-45.5, 46CB-48CB, T-367.1 - T-367.26, PD.1-PD.3) includes correspondence, agendas, draft and published writings, flyers, broadsides, posters, reports, itineraries, program materials, clippings, photographs, audiotapes, etc.

Subseries A, General correspondence, 1960-1988 (#3.4-7.19), contains correspondence between Calderone and friends, family, colleagues, and admirers. Although a small amount appears to be personal in nature, the bulk is related to her appearances at various speaking engagements, her efforts on behalf of sex education in the United States and abroad, and her promotion of various books and articles. The two filing schemes used by Calderone have been maintained: one in which correspondence is arranged alphabetically by either individual author or organization and thence chronologically; the other in which correspondence was arranged alphabetically by subject. Original folder titles were also maintained.

Subseries B, Speeches and engagements, 1959-1989 (#8.1-36.24, 45.5, 46CB-48CB, T-367.1 - T-367.25, PD.1-PD.3), includes correspondence, agendas, flyers, broadsides, posters, reports, notes, speeches, photographs, clippings, audiotapes, etc., related to Calderone's appearances at meetings, international conferences, and other speaking engagements, as well as various graduations and ceremonies at which she was presented with awards or honorary degrees. In addition, Calderone made many appearances on radio and television programs which are also included. Most engagements were in conjunction with her work at Planned Parenthood or SIECUS, with a small number having taken place following her departure from the presidency of SIECUS in 1982. Most of the earlier speaking engagements regarded sex education for youth and adolescents, as well as occasional subjects such as abortion and birth control. In later years, Calderone spoke more frequently on aging and sexuality, and the handicapped and sexuality. Also included is a card catalog which offers access by speech title, date, organization, and location of the engagement. One folder of itineraries was added in March 2014 and is housed in #45.5. Original folders with their original titles were maintained in their original order, chronologically by event.

Subseries C, Writings, 1958-1989 (#40.1-42.2, T-367.26), consists of draft and published articles, notes, annotated articles, reviews, surveys and questionnaires, publication lists, a small amount of correspondence regarding her publications, draft chapters for various anthologies, and draft chapters for her books, The Family Book about Sexuality and The Second Picture Book. Most of Calderone's publications are concerned with the sexual development of, or sex education for youth and adolescents; additional themes include sexuality and aging, and sexuality and the handicapped. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries D, Other professional, 1933-1988 (#42.3-45.4), includes memos, minutes, notes, reports, correspondence, administrative and financial material, publication materials, etc., related to Calderone's professional work with Planned Parenthood and SIECUS. Also included are course materials, correspondence, cancelled checks, etc., from her time as adjunct professor at New York University in the human sexuality program following her resignation from the presidency of SIECUS in 1982, and memos, notes, minutes, etc, from her service on various committees within outside organizations such as the United States Consortium of Sexology and the White House Conference on Youth and Children, among others. Folder titles were created by the processor. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AND AUDIOVISUAL, 1916-1988 (#PD.5-PD.9f, F+D.1, OD.1, SD.1, MP-11, Phon-53.1 - Phon-53.4), consists of photographs, oversized material, audiotapes, phonograph disks, and one motion picture.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1916-1984 (#PD.5-PD.9f), consists of photographs of Calderone as a young girl, various publicity portraits, and at a number of public engagements. Folder #PD.6 includes photographs by Edward Steichen. Folder #PD.9f contains photographs by Yousuf Karsh.

Subseries B, Oversized, 1967-1988 (scattered) (#F+D.1, OD.1, SD.1), consists of posters, program agendas, awards, broadsides, etc., removed from other series.

Subseries C, Audiovisual, 1961-1986 (#MP-11, Phon-53.1 - Phon-53.4), consists of one motion picture regarding the founding of SIECUS and four disk recordings sent by Calderone in lieu of a written letter or letters to a colleague at Brandeis University.

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 [*].


Mary Steichen Calderone, crusader and pioneer in the field of sex education, was born on July 1, 1904. She was the daughter of the eminent photographer, Edward Steichen and his first wife, Clara Smith Steichen, as well as the niece of poet Carl Sandburg. Calderone graduated from Vassar College in 1925 with a B.A. in chemistry. For several years she studied dramatics and was married to actor W. Lon Martin; they had two daughters, Nell and Linda. The couple divorced and Calderone turned to the study of medicine for the career that made her a leader in public health, birth control, and sex education.

After graduating from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1939, she interned for a year with the Children's Medical Service at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, then attended the Columbia School of Public Health and received a master's degree in public health in 1942. It was during this time that she met Dr. Frank Calderone, whom she married in 1941. The couple had two daughters, Francesca and Maria. Her husband, then a district health officer, shortly thereafter became deputy commissioner of health of New York City. He later served as chief administrative officer of the World Health Organization and director of health services with the United Nations Secretariat.

Mary Calderone served as physician to the public schools of Great Neck, New York, until 1953 when she joined the staff of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America as its medical director, a post she held until 1964. It was her association with Planned Parenthood that made her realize the widespread demand and need for more sex information. Planned Parenthood received a constantly growing number of letters asking questions not only about birth control, but sexual problems in general. The establishment of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) was formally announced in January of 1965 with its stated purpose: "To establish man's sexuality as a health entity: to identify the special characteristics that distinguish it from, yet relate it to, human reproduction; to dignify it by openness of approach, study, and scientific research designed to lead towards its understanding and its freedom from exploitation; to give leadership to professionals and to society, to the end that human beings may be aided toward responsible use of the sexual faculty and towards assimilation of sex into their individual life patterns as a creative and re-creative force."

During her years with SIECUS she traveled thousands of miles, addressing high school and college students, parents, educators, religious leaders and professional groups. A compelling speaker, she was especially popular with youthful audiences, who appreciated her candid no-nonsense factual replies to their questions. Calderone spearheaded a virtual revolution in liberalizing U.S. attitudes toward sex education, and as a result, became the target of extremist groups. In 1969 right-wing organizations spent an estimated $40,000,000 on a virulent "hate" campaign that reached its highest intensity in the spring of 1969.

Attacked, vilified, tagged a Communist and an "aging libertine," Calderone continued her work with equanimity. Describing SIECUS and her role as executive director, she said: "The point is, not that I am so important, but that I am the focal point in an organization that has become focal in a nationwide and worldwide movement -- that is, a movement on the part of the major professional groups in medicine, education, religion, nursing and others, to understand human sexuality on their own behalf and on behalf of the people whom they serve.... What I have been saying is that, unwittingly and involuntarily, SIECUS and therefore I, have become part of a nationwide trend that would seem to have significance for future historians of this epoch, from the sociological and political points of view."

Although she remained in close contact with SIECUS, Calderone resigned from the presidency in May 1982. She continued to speak internationally on the subject of sex education and other topics, such as aging and sexuality and sex for the physically handicapped. She served as an adjunct professor in the human sexuality program at the University of New York between 1983 and 1988. Mary Steichen Calderone died on October 24, 1998, at the Longwood Nursing Home in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She was 94.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1914-1988 (#1.1-3.3, PD.4)
  2. Series II. Professional, 1933-1989 (#3.4-45.5, 46CB-48CB, T-367.1 - T-367.26, PD.1-PD.3)
  3. ___Subseries A. General correspondence, 1960-1988 (#3.4-7.19)
  4. ___Subseries B. Speeches and engagements, 1959-1989 (#8.1-36.24, 45.5, 46CB-48CB, T-367.1 - T-367.25, PD.1-PD.3)
  5. ___Subseries C. Writings, 1958-1989 (#40.1-42.2, T-367.26)
  6. ___Subseries D. Other professional, 1933-1988 (#42.3-45.4)
  7. Series III. Photographs, oversized, and audiovisual, 1916-1988 (#PD.5-PD.9f, F+D.1, OD.1, SD.1, MP-11, Phon-53)
  8. ___Subseries A. Photographs, 1916-1984 (#PD.5-PD.9f)
  9. ___Subseries B. Oversized, 1967-1988 (scattered) (#F+D.1, OD.1, SD.1)
  10. ___Subseries C. Audiovisual, 1961-1986 (#MP-11, Phon-53.1 - Phon-53.4)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 81-M214, 84-M100, 84-M144, 85-M15, 85-M144, 85-M156, 86-M121, 86-M156, 87-M87, 88, M145, 91-M26, 91-M44, 93-M184, 95-M138, 99-M176, 2001-M89, 2006-M66

These additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mary Steichen Calderone and her daughter Francesca Calderone-Steichen between 1981 and 2006.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1904-1971 (179; M-125); Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1922-1979 (73-150--81-M35); Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1967-1982 (82-M129); Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1954-1983 ( 83-M184); and Videotape collection of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1979-1985 (Vt-7).

Processing Information

Processed: March 2010

Updated: March 2014

By: Mark Vassar

Calderone, Mary Steichen, 1904-1998. Additional papers of Mary Steichen Calderone, 1914-1989 (inclusive), 1960-1989 (bulk): 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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