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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 673

Records of Fernside, 1878-1998


These records document the activities, events, and management of Fernside, a vacation house in Princeton, Massachusetts, which provided affordable summer holidays for working women from Boston between 1890 and 1989. Included are correspondence, brochures, games and other entertainments, financial records, photographs, and clippings.


  • Creation: 1878-1998

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Fernside 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


5.21 linear feet ((6 + 1/2 file boxes, 2 card boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 2 folio folders, 1 folio+ folder, 4 photograph folders, 1 folio box of photographs, 1 volume of photographs, 8 slides, 15 negatives)

The Fernside records contain correspondence; photographs; pamphlets and brochures; guest books; songs; games and other entertainments; guest registration cards (for last names beginning G-O only); board minutes; menus, grocery lists, and recipes; reunion materials; financial records; and clippings. The materials largely document the activities and events at Fernside, with many examples of parlor games, songs, and plays; some printed material not specific to Fernside, or not annotated, was removed. Included are the "Evening Hymn for Fernside" (#8.6) and Songs We Love to Sing at Fernside (#9.1), handcrafted posters possibly used for performances or other activities (4OB.1), and photographs of women in costume posing for the camera. There are also handwritten copies of the Fernside Log and various reports and minutes from committees and meetings, which provide accounts of the activities of guests, as well as the management and maintenance of the house; correspondence with former guests; a reunion report from 1931 that contains poems and sentiments about friendship and Fernside (#9.7); typescripts of recollections of life at Fernside (#9.6); and correspondence with current owners Jocelyn and Richard Morrison (#1.9). The records were not in any order when received and have been arranged by the processor, who also created the folder titles. Files are arranged alphabetically.

A selection 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 [*].


In the 1880s, the Working-Girls' Club in Boston, Massachusetts, appealed for donations to support summer vacations in the country for the city's working women. The goals of the organizers were not only to provide rest for women who worked in department stores, dressmaking establishments, factories, laundries, and restaurants, but also to expose women to "elevating influences," which would improve their general spiritual and physical welfare. Through ongoing donations, the newly organized Girls' Vacation House Association, under the leadership of M. Josephine Allen, purchased Fernside in 1890. An historic mansion in Princeton, Massachusetts, Fernside would provide a vacation home for affordable summer holidays. The Women's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston acted as the agent for Fernside, registering women applicants to fill the forty-two spots for the two-week stays offered by the Association. Some women paid full board and fare, while others were fully subsidized. Each guest was responsible for daily chores, and the house also employed a cook and assistant, laundress, waitress, housemaid, housekeeper, and a groom. In 1921 the carriage barn on the property was converted into a theater and women performed plays each week for themselves and the townspeople. Starting in the late 1920s guests also compiled an ongoing newsletter, Fernside Log, which included accounts of activities at the house and stories about guests. A reunion of former guests was held in November each year, and during the winter the women who had stayed at Fernside organized parties and other events to raise money. In 1957, board members and Fernside guests dedicated a memorial to Fernside at the "Lookout" -- a nearby structure that was built of field stones and cedar posts and which afforded a view across the valley.

Fernside closed in 1989. Jocelyn and Richard Morrison purchased the house in 1994, restoring the building to its original floorplan of 1835. In 1996, they reopened Fernside as a bed and breakfast.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2005-M168, 2006-M8

The records of Fernside were given to the Schlesinger Library by Richard and Jocelyn Morrison in 2005 and 2006.


Donors: Jocelyn and Richard Morrison

Accession numbers: 2005-M168, 2006-M8

Processed by: Laura Peimer

Numerous vacation slides to Europe and throughout America (ca.1950s-1960s), as well as some general views of the area around Fernside, have been removed from the collection. The following published materials have been transferred to Harvard University Archives:

  1. A Medley of Heirs: A Musical Comedy in a Prologue (Pi Eta Society of Harvard University, 1917)
  2. "The White Elephant:" A Musical Comedy in Two Acts (Hasty Pudding Club of Harvard College, 1916)

Additional published materials, including sheet music of popular songs, Schirmer's Library of four hand piano music books, various song books, and the following have been removed for the Schlesinger Library book sale:

  1. A Catalogue of Baker's Plays (Walter H. Baker Company: Boston) (2 copies)
  2. A Selected list of Baker's Plays (Walter H. Baker Company: Boston)
  3. Baker's Drama-Gram (Walter H. Baker Company: Boston)
  4. Baldwin and Newton. Standard College Songs (Ginn and Company: Boston, 1914)
  5. Boston Women's Health Course Collective. Our Bodies Our Selves: A Course by and for Women (BWHCC: Boston, 1971)
  6. Buranelli, Prosper, et al. The Cross Word Puzzle Book (Simon and Schuster, Inc.: New York, 1935)
  7. Buranelli, Prosper, et al. The Cross Word Puzzle Book (Simon and Schuster, Inc.: New York, 1936)
  8. Clark, Kenneth S., ed. The Everybody Sing Book for Home School and Community (Paull Pioneer Music Corp: New York, 1935)
  9. College Songs (Oliver Ditson Company: Boston, 1913)
  10. Elsom, Dr. J. C. Social Games and Group Dances: A Collection of Games and Dances Suitable for Community and Social Use (J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia, 1919)
  11. 59 Piano Solos You Like To Play (G. Schirmer Inc.: New York)
  12. Frobisher, J.E. Make-Up Book with an Appendix of Hints on Acting (Walter H. Baker & Co.: Boston)
  13. Frost, Sarah Annie. The Book of Tableaux and Shadow Pantomimes (Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, 1869)
  14. Graeffe, Clare A. et al. 255 Games to Play (Edward J. Clode, Inc.: New York, 1929)
  15. Hall, Warren J. Word Hunt: The Last Word in Word Games (The Vanguard Press: New York, 1932)
  16. Longstreth, Edward, et al. What'll We Do Next? (The Reilly & Lee Company: New York, 1930)
  17. Making Up by Miner's (The Wolff, Fording Co.: Boston)
  18. Miller, Catherine Atkinson. Stunts of All Lands (Richard R. Smith, Inc.: New York, 1930)
  19. Miller, Catherine Atkinson. Stunt Night Tonight! (Harper & Brothers: New York, 1928)
  20. Morgan, Geoffrey F. et al. Tulip Time An Operetta in Two Acts (The H.T. Fitzsimons Co.: Chicago, n.d.)
  21. Morton, Edward, et al. "San Toy" A Chinese Musical Comedy (The John Church Company: New York, 1899)
  22. Noble, Gilbert Clifford. The Most Popular National Songs (Hinds, Noble & Eldredge: New York, 1907)
  23. O'Hara, Geoffrey. Golden Treasury Song Book for Schools, Homes, Clubs and Community Singing (Robbins Music Corporation: New York, 1943)
  24. Parker, Arnold. Ping-Pong: The Game and How to Play It (Jordan Marsh Co.: Boston, 1902)
  25. Rohrbough, Katherine Ferris, ed. Successful Stunts: Fifty Short, Impromptu Dramatic Stunts for Social Occasions (Richard R. Smith, Inc.: New York, 1929)
  26. Stevens, David. Latin American Songs: For Unison and Two Part Singing with Piano Accompaniments (C.C. Birchard & Co.: Boston, n.d.)
  27. Sunshine: A Soulful Magazet (Vol. viii, No. 8, August 1931)
  28. Surette, Thomas W. et al. The Home and Community Song Book (E.C. Schirmer Music Co.: Boston, 1931) (3 copies)
  29. The GEM Dance Folio for 1942: Containing the Season's Successes arranged as Fox Trots, Waltzes, Polkas, Marches (Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc.: New York)
  30. The Golden Book of Favorite Songs (Hall & McCreary Company: Chicago, 1923)
  31. The Silver Song Series: Familiar Songs and Hymns for Institutes and Recreational Singing in School and Home (Silver, Burdett & Company: Boston, 1915)
  32. The Worlds Collection of Patriotic Songs and Airs of Different Nations (Oliver Ditzon Company: Boston, 1903)
  33. Waite, Henry Randall. College Songs: A Collection of New and Popular Songs of the American Colleges (Oliver Ditson Company: Boston, 1890)
  34. Wheeler, Roger. Let's Play Charades (Fitzgerald Publishing Corporation: New York, 1931)
  35. Zeiner, Edward J. A. The High School Song Book for Use in Boys' and Mixed High Schools (The Macmillan Company: New York, 1916)

Processing Information

Processed: March 2011

By: Laura Peimer

Fernside (Princeton, Mass.). Records of Fernside, 1878-1998: 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 the generosity of Clara Schiffer.

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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