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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 687: T-467: Phon 60

Papers of Barbara Miller Solomon, 1888-1995 (inclusive), 1940-1992 (bulk)


Correspondence, speeches, appointment books, lecture notes, manuscript drafts, photographs, audiotapes, and phonograph records of historian Barbara Miller Solomon, lecturer at Harvard College and dean of Radcliffe and Harvard Colleges.


  • Creation: 1888-1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-1992

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. The written permission of Maida E. Solomon is required for access to the collection. #12.5-12.9, 13.9-13.15, 14.1-14.3, 14.5, 16.1-22.10, 23.13, 24.2, 26.15-31, 26.33-26.34, 27.1-27.32, 28.1-28.3, 42.5, 42.10, 42.13, and 45.2 are closed as noted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Barbara Miller Solomon is held by Maida E. Solomon. Upon Maida E. Solomon's death, copyright will be transferred to 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 with the written permission of Maida E. Solomon.


27.52 linear feet ((62 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 1 card file box) plus 2 folio folders, 5 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 4 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 2 audiotapes, and 3 phonograph records)

The collection documents Barbara Miller Solomon's personal and professional life and contains information on other family members, including her mother Bessie Pinsky Miller Skirball, her husband Peter Solomon, and her children. Included are courtship letters, family correspondence, and professional correspondence; speeches; lecture notes; book reviews; drafts and research materials re: various writing projects; memorabilia; photographs; phonograph records; and audiotapes. Most of the folder headings were created by the archivist; those by Barbara Miller Solomon appear in quotation marks.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL,1919-ca.1995 (#1.1-15.10, 65CB.1m-65CB.3m, FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1, OD.1), includes address and appointment books; awards; biographical information; Solomon's 1929 diary; schoolwork and college papers; material re: Solomon's memorial service; passports; memorabilia; and personal correspondence (including congratulations on Solomon's appointments as director of the Women's Archives (now the Schlesinger Library) and as Assistant Dean of Harvard College (#11.8) and on her engagement and marriage (#11.6-11.7) and letters of condolence re: the deaths of her mother Bessie Pinsky Miller Skirball (#10.7) and husband Peter Solomon (#10.8-11.3)). Correspondents include Solomon's thesis advisor Oscar Handlin and his wife Mary Flug Handlin, who became her lifelong friends (#12.5-12.9). For Solomon's correspondence with family members, see Series II. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, FAMILY PAPERS, 1888-1993 (#16.1-22.10, Phon-60.1 - Phon.60.3), is closed to all except Solomon family members until August 20, 2042. The series includes material re: Solomon's husband, children, parents, parents-in-law, and other family members and includes correspondence, clippings, certificates, school report cards, yearbooks, and graduation programs, and phonograph records. It is arranged with genealogical material and poems re: the Solomon family appearing first; the remaining material is grouped alphabetically by family member and then chronologically. The series includes a diary kept by Hennie Herman, Maida H. Solomon's mother (#16.3); Barbara Miller Solomon's correspondence with her father (#18.12); and Barbara and Peter's correspondence with her mother (#19.11-19.12), his parents (#21.1), his brother and sister-in-law Eric and Irene Solomon (#20.9), his uncle and aunt James and Bess Rosenberg (#20.4), and with other family members including Peter's sister Babette Solomon Radner (#21.4). The series also includes letters to Barbara and Peter from their children and their spouses (#20.3, 20.5-20.8, 20.10-20.12); Peter's letters to Barbara, many of them written while they were both undergraduates (#19.1-19.6); letters of sympathy re: his illness in 1988 (#20.13-20.14); and a poignant note he wrote shortly before his death (#19.7). The Bessie Pinsky Miller Skirball material includes her correspondence with her parents (#16.12), with her grandchildren and stepson (#18.1-18.2), and condolence letters received upon the death of Benjamin Miller (#17.6); letters from others, including many re: her work for the National Jewish Welfare Board and the USO during World War II (#17.8-17.11) and letters of congratulation re: her marriage to Louis Skirball (#17.12); phonograph records containing greetings from National Jewish Welfare Board workers in Heidelberg, Germany (Phon-60.1 - Phon-60.3); certificates (#17.1); and a passport and travel itineraries (#17.13-17.14). The material re: Harry and Maida H. Solomon includes letters congratulating them on Barbara and Peter's engagement (#21.3), and their obituaries (#21.4). The series also includes letters Barbara Miller Solomon sent her family while traveling in Europe (#19.8-19.9); the Solomon children's correspondence with other family members (#21.6, 22.9); infant feeding charts for Peter Solomon Jr. (#22.7) and Maida E. Solomon (#21.5); Peter Solomon Jr.'s baby book (#22.8); and clippings, etc., re: the weddings of both Peter (#22.10) and Maida (#21.8-21.10). In addition, the series includes itineraries for a trip to Europe Peter Solomon made in 1937 (#21.19), speeches made at his memorial service (#22.4), and letters of condolence received by Maida E. Solomon after the death of Barbara Miller Solomon (#21.12).

Series III, PROFESSIONAL, 1927-1993 (#23.1-64.7, F+D.2-F+D.5, OD.2, T-467.1 - T-467.2), is arranged in three subseries and includes professional correspondence; course syllabi, lecture notes, and other teaching materials; speeches and speech notes; audiotapes of speeches; drafts and notes re: various writing projects; and minutes, certificates, and reports.

Subseries A, Academic, 1940-1992 (#23.1-45.8, F+D.2-F+D.3, T-467.1 - T-467), is arranged in the following four groups: alphabetical correspondence (correspondence re: specific writing projects is located in Series III, Subseries B), chronological correspondence, speeches, and teaching. The alphabetical correspondence includes material re: the American Historical Association; American Jewish Committee, including correspondence re: Maida H. Solomon's oral history (#23.7-23.9); letters of recommendation for fellow historians, students, employees, and family friends (#26.15-28.3); letters of appointment for Solomon's various positions at Harvard and at Wheelock College (#23.10); various committees on which Solomon served, including the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession (#24.5) and the Standing Committee on Women at Harvard (#28.19); grant applications (#24.18-24.21); correspondence with fellow historians and other colleagues; and correspondence about historical figures such as Olympia Brown. The chronological correspondence includes letters from students and from colleagues; correspondence re: Solomon's classes and conferences and other speaking engagements; and administrative matters. Speeches, arranged chronologically, includes speeches, speech announcements, and correspondence re: conferences and speaking engagements. Speech topics include the history of higher education for women, academic women in international affairs, coeducation, Sacco and Vanzetti, and the history of Radcliffe College. Solomon spoke frequently to Radcliffe alumnae groups and to organizations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as at meetings of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and other professional organizations. Of particular note is a speech she made in her capacity as director of the Women's Archives at one of Lady Bird Johnson's White House Lunches, in 1964 (#33.21). She also wrote books and articles on several of these topics; for related material, see Subseries B, Writings and research. The teaching material, which is arranged alphabetically by course name, includes lecture notes, syllabi, course outlines, course evaluations, examinations for religion classes Solomon taught at Wheelock College and for history, women's studies, and religion classes she taught at Harvard University. Much of this material concerns the first lecture class on women in America offered by Harvard University, Solomon's "Women and the American Experience" (#41.16-45.8), which she began teaching in the early 1970s. This class later evolved into "The Emergence of Women as a Force in Modern Society" (#39.4-39.15) and helped lead to the establishment of a formal women's studies program at Harvard. Students for both these classes wrote papers on the women in their families (#39.5-39.7, 42.7-42.15). Some material on Radcliffe Seminars is also included (#41.9-41.10)

Subseries B, Writings and research, 1927-1993 (#45.9-63.10, F+D.5, OD.2), reflects Solomon's interests in the rights of women and immigrants, and in the education of women. The subseries is arranged alphabetically and includes drafts, correspondence, reviews, distribution lists, and reader's comments for Solomon's books Ancestors and Immigrants: A Changing New England Tradition (#47.1-47.14), Pioneers in Service: The History of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston (#59.11-60.11), and In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (#54.4-56.2). In addition, the subseries includes considerable background material for Solomon's writings on Ada Comstock: From Western Prairies to Eastern Commons: A Life in Education, Ada Louise Comstock Notestein 1876-1973 and A Pioneer in Women's Education: From Moorhead, Minnesota, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Ada Louise Comstock. This includes correspondence (including with May Sarton (#50.10) and Comstock's niece Susan Clemedtson (#50.5)), chapter drafts, and interview notes. The subseries also includes essays and articles Solomon wrote for Black Women in Higher Education (#48.3-48.4), The Dictionary of American Biography (#48.9), Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (#59.9-59.10), and other anthologies. There is also considerable material on an unfinished study of women such as Vera Micheles Dean who were active in both academic and political circles (#45.9-46.19), and on studies of Radcliffe College Alumnae (#52.2, 56.15-57.5). Other material includes notes and drafts re: Travels in New England and New York (a book of writings by Timothy Dwight, the eighth president of Yale University, edited by Solomon); research material for a study on women profiled in Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (#57.6-59.8); correspondence and notes re: the Sacco and Vanzetti case (#60.14-60.19) including letters written at the time of the trial (#60.14); essays on Solomon's parents (#47.15) and on her experiences at Radcliffe College (#56.9); correspondence and drafts for a volume celebrating the life of her dissertation advisor Oscar Handlin (#53.7-53.10); book reviews (#48.7-48.8); and notes and drafts on America in the 17th-20th centuries, women, education, feminism, and women and professional identity. For related speeches, see Subseries A, Academic; for additional information on Radcliffe alumnae questionnaires, see Records of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association, and for further material re: Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, see Notable American Women Records. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this series.

Subseries C, Commissions on the Status of Women, 1964-1972 (#63.11-64.7, F+D.4), includes correspondence, minutes, reports of the Special Commission on the Status of Women and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, as well as certificates appointing Solomon to each commission.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1922-1990 (PD.1f-PD.5), includes images of Solomon, her parents, husband, and children, and other relatives .

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 [*].


Barbara Miller Solomon was born on February 12, 1919, in Boston, Massachusetts, the only child of Bessie (Pinsky) Miller, a first-generation Russian Jewish immigrant and Benjamin Miller. Benjamin Miller, an insurance salesman, died in 1937 and his widow married Louis Skirball in 1949. Solomon attended Girls' Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts, and Radcliffe College. Just before her 1940 graduation, she eloped with Peter Solomon, a member of the Harvard University class of 1940 and the son of Harry Solomon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Maida Herman Solomon, pioneer in psychiatric social work. They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Peter Solomon began working at the Joseph M. Herman Shoe Company, while Barbara took graduate courses at Harvard University. She received her doctorate in American history in 1953 and her book, Ancestors and Immigrants: A Changing New England Tradition, based on her thesis, New England Pride and Prejudice, was published in 1956. The Solomons had three children: Peter Jr. (born in 1942), Maida (born in 1946), and Daniel (born in 1950).

From an early age, Solomon was deeply interested in social justice and the place of the "outsider" in society; this led to a particular interest in immigration and later in women's rights and education, which was reflected in her teaching, writings, and other professional activities. In 1955, she became the historian for the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston and her Pioneers in Service: The History of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston was published the following year. She began teaching courses in American history and religion at Wheelock College in 1957 and in 1959 was appointed director of both the Women's Archives (now the Schlesinger Library) and the Radcliffe Seminars, Radcliffe's continuing education program. She held these positions until 1965 and 1963, respectively. In 1963, she was named Associate Dean of Radcliffe College and dean of Radcliffe College's East House, and in 1970, she was appointed Assistant Dean of Harvard College, becoming the first woman to hold a position as a dean of Harvard College. This appointment drew national attention and she served until 1974. She joined the faculty of Harvard College as a lecturer on history and literature in 1965 and in 1972 taught Harvard's first lecture course on the history of women in America, which helped lead to the establishment of a formal women's studies program at Harvard.

In addition to her academic work, Solomon lectured widely and was active in a number of organizations, including the American Association of University Women, the American Historical Association, the Berkshire Historical Conference, and the National Advisory Board of the American Jewish Committee's William E. Wiener Oral History Library. She was appointed to the Special Commission on the Status of Women by Governor Endicott Peabody in 1964, and to the Commission on the Status of Women by Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1971. In addition to the books mentioned earlier, her writings include Timothy Dwight's Travels in New England and New York (ed. 1969), In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (1985), and From Western Prairies to Eastern Commons: A Life in Education, Ada Louise Comstock Notestein , 1876-1973 (1993). Peter Solomon died of lung cancer on June 28, 1988 and Barbara Miller Solomon died of colon cancer on August 20, 1992.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1919-ca.1995 (#1.1-15.10, 65CB.1m-65CB.3m, FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1, OD.1)
  2. Series II. Family papers, 1888-1993 (#16.1-22.10, Phon-60.1 - Phon.60.3)
  3. Series III. Professional, 1927-1993 (#23.1-64.7, F+D.2-F+D.5, OD.2, T-467.1 - T-467.2)
  4. ___Subseries A. Academic, 1940-1992 (#23.1-45.8, F+D.2-F+D.3, T-467.1 - T-467)
  5. ___Subseries B. Writings and research, 1927-1993 (#45.9-63.10, F+D.5, OD.2)
  6. ___Subseries C. Commissions on the Status of Women, 1964-1972 (#63.11-64.7, F+D.4)
  7. Series IV, Photographs, 1922-1990, (PD1f.-PD.5)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: R87-25, R89-21, R90-12, R92-15, R93-29, 74-210, 85-M138, 86-M53, 88-M108, 88-M133, 89-M156, 92-M178, 92-M212, 93-M29, 93-M87, 93-M112, 93-M143, 93-M149, 94-M44, 94-M49, 94-M84, 95-M150

The papers of Barbara Miller Solomon were given to the Schlesinger Library by Barbara Miller Solomon between 1974 and 1992. Her daughter, Maida E. Solomon, donated additional material between 1992 and 1994, and the Massachusetts Historical Society made an additional donation in 1995.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Oral history interview with Barbara Miller Solomon, 1989 (RA.A/S684; 2007-T7), Papers of Maida Herman Solomon, 1901-1988 (MC 418), Records of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association (Series 8-14), 1887-2005 (RG IX, Series 8-14) and Records of Notable American Women, 1607-1950, 1958-1973 (MC 230).


Donors: Barbara Miller Solomon

Accession numbers: R87-25, 88-M108

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following item has been removed from the collection and offered to the Harvard Law School Historical & Special Collections:

  1. Scrapbook re: Sacco and Vanzetti case compiled by Fred Moore.

The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to Houghton Library:

  1. Scrapbooks and minute books of the Immigration Restriction League.

The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to the Harvard University Archives:

  1. Correspondence re: Harvard University administrative materials, primarily: admissions.

The following books have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Book Department:

  1. Aldrich, Amey. Fifty Years Ago: Early Days of the Cosmopolitan Club.
  2. A College in Dispersion: Report of the 1970-71 Survey of Bryn Mawr College Alumnae/Alumni (includes Appendix A) Ann F. Miller (ed.)
  3. A Day Care Proposal for Harvard.Cambridge, Mass.: Project Know, New Opportunities for Women Committee, Radcliffe College Alumnae Association, 1970
  4. Equal Rights for Women: Fact or Fad. A Report of a Conference on Changes in the Traditional Roles of Women in Society Today, April 27, 1971
  5. Healy, Frances. A History of Evelyn College for Women, Princetom, New Jersey, 1887 to 1897 . Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International Dissertation Information Service, 1989
  6. Idealism at Work: Eighty Years of AAUW Fellowships. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women, 1967
  7. James, Janet Wilson. History and Women at Harvard: The Schlesinger Library Offprint from Harvard Library Bulletin, Volume XVI, Number 4. October 1968
  8. Names Remembered through AAUW Fellowships, Volume II: Biographies of the Women for Whom AAUW Fellowships are Named. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women,
  9. Vinovskis, Marie A. and Richard M. Bernard. Women in Education in Ante-Bellum America. Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1973
  10. A Working Woman's Guide to her Job Rights. Women's Bureau, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 1974
  11. Zimmerman, Joan Grace. College Culture in the Midwest, 1890-1930. Ann Arbor and London: University Microfilms International, 1981

The following periodicals were removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Department:

  1. Today at Harvard. Vol.1 No. 2 (May 1924)

The following item has been removed from the collection and offered to the Wheelock College Archives:

  1. Grade book, 1857-1958.

Processing Information

Processed: May 2012

By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Camille Torres.

Solomon, Barbara Miller. Papers of Barbara Miller Solomon, 1888-1995 (inclusive), 1940-1992 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

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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