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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 639

Papers of Kip Tiernan, 1944-2008


Speeches, correspondence, writings, press releases, photographs, clippings, etc., related to Kip Tiernan's work with organizations to aid the poor, homeless, and socially oppressed.


  • Creation: 1944-2008

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted except for #29.16, which is closed until January 1, 2042.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Kip Tiernan 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.


15 linear feet ((35 file boxes, 2 half file boxes) plus 2 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders)

The papers of Kip Tiernan contain speeches; correspondence; writings; press releases; photographs; clippings, etc., related to Tiernan's work with organizations to aid the poor, homeless, and socially oppressed. The bulk of the collection arrived at the library in tightly packed folders; many of the folders were without headings. Folder contents were rearranged or combined, and folder titles were created by the processor, who also created the overall arrangement. Several cartons contained clippings, which arrived loose and unsorted. The processor weeded them extensively, and grouped them in folders, which were placed where most relevant. The catalogs with accompanying materials (#21.8-23.12) were maintained in their original order. Videotapes were removed and have been cataloged separately; see the Kip Tiernan Video collection (Vt-140, DVD-8). The collection is arranged in three series.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1944-2005 (#1.1-6.3, PD.1, F+D.2, OD.2), contains biographical sketches and articles; resumes; an oral history (#1.5) and a draft interview (#1.6); several appointment and address books noting meetings, contacts, etc., related to Warwick House, Rosie's Place, Poor People's United Fund, etc.; personal and professional correspondence; photographs; clippings; and miscellaneous. Also included is a portfolio (ca.1950s) containing flyers, pamphlets, advertisements, articles, clippings, etc., of various products that presumably reflect Tiernan's early work in the public relations and advertising field (#1.12-1.14). Correspondence (#1.17-1.27) includes miscellaneous letters that do not directly correspond to the specific organizations, committees, etc., that are found in Series III, but may be related. Most of the correspondence is professional; there are a few personal letters interspersed. The awards and related materials (#5.1-5.9) contain program booklets, city proclamations/citations, certificates, invitations, correspondence, agendas, application material for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nomination (#5.6), digital printouts, clippings, etc. The folders are grouped by record type or topic.

Series II, WRITINGS, SPEECHES, AND RELATED, 1947-2005, n.d. (#6.4-23.12), contains Tiernan's musical and theatrical scripts and drafts for plays performed in Boston (including playbills, flyers and announcements, correspondence, production and rehearsal material, clippings, etc.); press releases and press kits; a substantial collection of speeches that include related material (i.e., correspondence, conference and lecture materials, flyers and announcements, clippings, etc.); statements and testimonies, which also include related material (i.e., correspondence, reports, notes, clippings, etc.); and a collection of writings and articles, which are comprised primarily of clippings.

The processor assigned numbers to the drafts and scripts (#6.4-6.18) for musicals and plays (e.g., draft 1, draft 2, copy 1, copy 2, etc.) to distinguish them from one another; they do not reflect the order of creation of the edited revisions. The press releases and press kits (#6.19-6.22, 7.1-7.9) include coverage of the 1966 through 1970 annual Boston Common Dairy Festival (including related material and the Moo News newsletters/program guides); announcements for Open Space: Clearing House for Creative Ministry, other religious organizations, and announcements for political activists (1968-1982); a series on the past history of the Boston Common (ca.1960s-1970s); coverage of the political trials of Daniel and Philip Berrigan and other political activists (1970-1982); etc.

Speeches (#8.1-19.10) were given at public events, meetings, and conference and academic settings, and include eulogies, sermons, commencement addresses, keynote addresses for charity events, etc. They address such issues as homelessness, poverty, healthcare, welfare, church and community, political agendas, women's rights, etc. Tiernan's testimonies (#19.11-20.11) were given to various committees of the Massachusetts General Court (state legislature) on such topics as homelessness, fair housing, poverty, taxation, mental health, treatment of prisoners, AIDS, social reform, healthcare, welfare, employment, care for the elderly, etc. The processor assigned numbers to the drafts and copies (e.g., copy 1, copy 2, etc.) to distinguish them from one another; they do not reflect the order of creation of the edited revisions.

Also included are three catalogs comprised of lists outlining various materials throughout the collection in chronological order; some material duplicated elsewhere in the collection is interspersed with the lists. These catalogs (attributed to Elizabeth "Betty" O'Connor) reflect the organization of material for the writing of two books: "An Acceptable Year of the Lord" (never published), with drafts for a preliminary catalog and secondary source catalog, and Urban Meditations, with drafts for a preliminary catalog. A publication of Urban Meditations was released by the Poor People's United Fund in 2006.

The series is arranged chronologically, within each grouping (musicals/plays; press releases; speeches; testimonies; other writings; and catalogs).

Series III, ORGANIZATIONS, COMMITTEES, AND OTHER ACTIVITIES, 1965-2006 (#23.13-37.7, F+D.1, OD.1), documents organizations with which Tiernan worked, as well as her year as a Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. It is divided into six subseries.

Subseries A, Political and social action, 1965-1973 (#23.13-27.2), contains administrative records; membership and donation lists; correspondence; press releases and press kits; newsletters; interviews; trial records and defendant profiles; flyers, pamphlets, and other printed material; etc., related to the Boston chapters of two anti-war groups, the Camden (New Jersey) 28 Defense Community, and Milwaukee (Wisconsin) 14 Defense Fund. Members of St. Philip's Parish (Roxbury) were indicted in the cases for the burning of draft cards. Tiernan's work is reflected throughout. Also included are materials on the Boston 8; the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Defense Committee (material related to the Berrigan brothers); and a collection of political and anti-war literature, including some of Daniel and Philip Berrigan's writings and speeches (#26.21-26.22). The subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of organization.

Subseries B, Warwick House/St. Philip community, 1968-1982 (#27.3-28.20), contains administrative records including Parish profiles and statistics; correspondence; reports and meeting notes; the closing of St. Philip Parish (scattered throughout); press releases, newsletters, and other printed material; photographs; etc., reflecting Tiernan's work. Folders are grouped by record type or topic.

Subseries C, Rosie's Place, 1973-2006 (#29.1-31.18, F+D.1, OD.1), contains 20th and 30th anniversary materials; administrative records; bylaws and handbooks; reports; budgets; donor, staff, and volunteer lists; correspondence; press releases, pamphlets, fact sheets, posters, flyers, and announcements; clippings; and miscellaneous. Two issues of interest are the controversial sale in 1987 of a "bag lady doll" by a local retailer (#30.3-30.4), and the 1990 exclusion of men from Rosie's board of directors (#30.6). Rosie's Place newsletters were transferred to the periodicals collection; consult the library's catalog for holdings. General files on its history are followed by administrative records, correspondence, materials on fundraisers, and clippings.

Subseries D, Poor People's United Fund (PPUF), 1980-2005 (#31.19-32.11), contains administrative records; minutes and notes; correspondence; material from the Essentially Women's Coffeehouse group, including a 1984 poetry booklet (#32.2); pamphlets and flyers; fundraiser calendars; An Urban Meditation booklets; clippings; and miscellaneous. The PPUF newsletters (Poor People's United Fund, Equal Time, and Equal Time Observer) were transferred to the periodicals collection; consult the library's catalog for holdings. Folders in the subseries are grouped by record type.

Subseries E, Bunting Institute, 1988-1990 (#32.12-33.21), contains material from Tiernan and Froehlich while fellows at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, and includes their 1988 fellowship proposal entitled, "Sheltering: Scandal or Solution?" (#32.12); drafts for their book, "Cultural Acceptance of Homelessness" (never completed); transcriptions of core group meeting minutes (participants included Ann Bookman, Barbara Davidson, Matt Dumont, Nicki Flionis, Marion Glazer, Dr. Richard Malika, Sue Marsh, Laura Monroe, Dolores Pickett, Nancy Ryan, Rene Scott, and Julie Vaughn); correspondence; interviews; framework material for the Ethical Policy Institute; etc. The processor assigned numbers to the book drafts within folders (e.g., draft 1, draft 2, etc.) to distinguish them from one another; they do not reflect the order of creation of the edited revisions. Folders in the subseries are grouped by record type.

Subseries F, Other organizations and initiatives, 1970-2005 (#34.1-37.7), contains correspondence; meeting minutes and related; reports, proposals, and statements; lecture notes; press releases, newsletters, clippings, and other printed material addressing women's issues related to homelessness, poverty, welfare, health care, mental illness, religion, incarceration, etc.; and miscellaneous materials related to and reflecting Tiernan's involvement with other organizations and social issues; the treatment of women in prison; issues concerning mental health and psychosurgery; and Tiernan's lecture notes, course outlines, resource material, etc., from her Ethics, Moral Principles, and Social Policy class taught in conjunction with Froehlich at the University of Massachusetts. The resource material and clippings represent a sampling of social issues that have influenced Tiernan's work. A majority of clippings from readily available sources in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines (on such topics as poverty, welfare, homelessness, and hunger; healthcare and insurance; unemployment; affordable housing; business ethics; care for the elderly and disabled; mental illness; inner city hospitals; psychotherapy; children and teen violence; anti-war activities; the Catholic Church and society; women in religion; social reform; women's issues; treatment of inmates; politics and budgets; etc.), spanning the late-1960s through the end of the 1990s, were discarded. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of organization, activity, etc., followed by clippings.

A few of the photographs in this collection 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 Jane "Kip" Tiernan was born in 1926 in New Haven, Connecticut. She acquired the nickname "Kip" early in childhood from a younger relative for whom she often babysat; she took the name as her own. Tiernan was raised by her maternal grandmother, following the death of both her parents by the time she was eleven. Growing up during the Great Depression, Tiernan learned from her grandmother and mother about caring for the less fortunate, as she provided clothing and bowls of soup to the unemployed men who lined up at their door. Her grandmother also introduced her to music, bringing out Tiernan's artistic talent and love of jazz piano. Raised as a Catholic, Tiernan attended several parochial schools as well as public and boarding schools, but never graduated. She took various college classes in retail management and music, and at age twenty-one she moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Throughout the 1950s, she worked in a variety of public relations and advertising jobs, including copywriting at Breck's of Boston (a mail order house), editorial researcher for Houghton Mifflin in Paris, advertising manager for T.W. Rogers department store, fashion writer for Gilchrist's and Popular Merchandising, and editor of PIONEER insurance trade magazine; she was running her own public relations firm by the mid-1960s. On August 8, 1968, she organized a press meeting at the old St. Philip's Parish in Boston's South End (near the then Boston City Hospital). As a final tribute to mark the closing of the Parish, the event hosted an assemblage of anti-war and civil rights activists, among whom were Daniel Berrigan, Marcos Munos, and members of the Black Panthers and the United Farm Workers. The event became a turning point for Tiernan. She left her successful public relations business and joined Rev. Jack White in a new urban team ministry at the new St. Philip's Parish on Warwick Street (later known as Warwick House). Their mission was to practice a new political theology of justice, not charity. During her fourteen years at Warwick House, Tiernan put her public relations and fundraising skills to work with the Milwaukee 14 Defense Fund and the Camden 28 Defense Community, and for mental health reform for the de-institutionalized. She also spent time at the Catholic Worker shelter run by Dorothy Day in New York City.

In response to an article in the July 1973 Real Paper about homeless women who had no place to go, Tiernan rounded up $250 in donations from friends. She leased an abandoned grocery store (formerly the Rosen's Family Market), and on Easter Sunday 1974, she opened Rosie's Place, the first drop-in emergency shelter for women in the United States. In 1984, Rosie's Place was destroyed by fire, but reopened one year later on the site of the former Warwick House. It has since shifted its focus from simply providing shelter to providing women with the services needed to help "dig themselves out of untenable situations."

In 1979, Tiernan and colleague Fran Froehlich with Georgia Mattison created the Boston Food Pantry, later incorporated as the Boston Food Bank, which provides food to 700 direct service agencies. Tiernan and Froehlich also co-founded the Poor People's United Fund (PPUF) in 1980, providing aid to organizations that serve women in need (e.g., Aid to Incarcerated Mothers, Sojourner House, Families and Friends of Prisoners, etc.). From 1988 to 1990, Tiernan and Froehlich were Bunting Fellows at Radcliffe College, where they developed the Ethical Policy Project. As adjunct professors at the University of Massachusetts Boston from 1993 through 2002, they taught a class in "Ethics, Moral Principles and Social Policy." Tiernan has also testified before the Massachusetts General Court (state legislature) on behalf of the socially oppressed, and lobbied for social justice, affordable housing, health care, education, jobs, civil rights, etc. She has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for her efforts to aid the poor and oppressed, and in 2010 continues to write and lecture widely.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1944-2005 (#1.1-6.3, PD.1, F+D.2, OD.2)
  2. Series II. Writings, speeches, and related, 1947-2005, n.d. (#6.4-23.12)
  3. Series III. Organizations, committees, and other activities, 1965-2006 (#23.13-37.7, F+D.1, OD.1)
  4. ___Subseries A. Political and social action, 1965-1973 (#23.13-27.2)
  5. ___Subseries B. Warwick House/St. Philip community, 1968-1982 (#27.3-28.20)
  6. ___Subseries C. Rosie's Place, 1973-2006 (#29.1-31.18, F+D.1, OD.1)
  7. ___Subseries D. Poor People's United Fund (PPUF), 1980-2005 (#31.19-32.11)
  8. ___Subseries E. Bunting Institute (Radcliffe College), 1988-1990 (#32.12-33.21)
  9. ___Subseries F. Other organizations and initiatives, 1972-2001 (#34.1-37.7)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2006-M27, 2006-M60, 2014-M134

The papers of Kip Tiernan were given to the Schlesinger Library by Kip Tiernan in 2006, and by Fran Froehlich in 2014.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the Kip Tiernan Video collection (Vt-140, DVD-8).


Donor: Kip Tiernan

Accession numbers: 2006-M27, 2006-M60

Processed by: Bridgette A. Woodall

The following items have been transferred to the Archives, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Braintree, Massachusetts:

  1. Warwick House/St. Philip Parish newsletters, 1973-1980 (incomplete)

The following items have been transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department, Snell Library, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts:

  1. The Price of Punishment: Prisons in Massachusetts, 1974
  2. Doing Time (newsletter), 1981-1982 (incomplete)

The following items have been transferred to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin:

  1. Talk show interviews regarding the Milwaukee 14, audio reels, 1968 (4 audiotapes)

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library periodicals collection; consult the library's catalog for holdings:

  1. Poor People's United Fund newsletters
  2. Rosie's Place newsletters

The following items have been removed from the collection and cataloged separately as Vt-140:

  1. Interviews, fundraisers, etc., of Tiernan, videotapes, 1984-2005 (34 videotapes)

The following items were removed for the Schlesinger Library book sale:

  1. Numerous publications and printed material

Processing Information

Processed: September 2010

By: Bridgette A. Woodall

Updated: September 2014

By: Anne Engelhart

Tiernan, Kip. Papers of Kip Tiernan, 1944-2008: 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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