Papers of Hazel Hitson Weidman, 1896-2014
Correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, and drawings of Hazel Hitson Weidman, medical anthropologist and World War II WAVE.
Language of Materials
Most materials in English; some material in Burmese.
Access. Folder #4.3 is closed until January 1, 2029; the rest of the collection is open to research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Hazel Hitson Weidman 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, however material from the collection may not be reproduced on the internet until after the donor's death.
Extent11.34 linear feet ((21 file boxes,1 folio box, 1 oversize box) plus 1 folio folder, 33 photograph folders, 1 folio photo folder, 1 supersize photograph folder, electronic records)
This collection documents the personal life of medical anthropologist Hazel Hitson Weidman. The papers include correspondence, photographs, biographical material, family genealogies, and World War II memorabilia. Weidman joined the WAVES in 1943, and subsequently served at several Naval Air bases around the country. Included in the collection are love letters received by Weidman during World War II, which offer glimpses into the lives of Navy and Army pilots during the war and the difficulties of maintaining long-distance romances during wartime. Also found within the collection is correspondence between Weidman and several of the people she met in Burma while conducting anthropological field work in 1957, and when she returned in 2006. Weidman's correspondence reveals the connections she had with her many friends. She kept in particular contact with friends from her Maine retirement communities, Piper Shores in Scarborough and The Highlands in Topsham. The collection also includes correspondence, family histories, and other material related to William Harold Weidman. Additional material received in 2013 (accession number 2013-M224) was added to the collection in March 2014. These materials are housed in #21.9-21.10. Additional material received in 2014 (accession number 2014-M183) was added to the collection in June 2015. These documents describe a trip taken by Weidman to Washington, DC, with other World War II veterans from Florida. This material is housed in #1.4 and E.1. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order. Original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivist.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1917-2014, n.d. (#1.1-5.10, 22FB.1), includes address books, articles, curricula vitae, college papers, sketch books, financial and real estate records, genealogies, and high school yearbooks. Weidman's anthropology papers from Northwestern University give details into her upbringing and her early adulthood, explaining her feelings toward her parents, relationships with other people, and her attitude towards religion (#1.6). Sketch books include portraits of the Powers family, with whom she boarded while attending Northwestern University (#5.7). In 1974 Weidman and a group of friends spent a week camping in Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine; one friend presented Weidman with a scrapbook commemorating the trip as a birthday gift (#22FB.1). In 1987 she started her own business, called Socks Aloft, which sold decorative wind-socks for the home or office (#5.8). In 1989 Weidman moved to Camden, Maine, eventually becoming president of the Hobbs-Fish Pond Association, which was founded in the late 1970's to monitor the health of the two ponds (#4.5-4.6). In 2000 she began taking photography lessons, including darkroom developing of black and white film, in order to process her many rolls of film taken in Burma during her trip in 1957 (#4.4). Material related to Piper Shores retirement community is included (#4.8-5.2). Many members of Hazel Weidman's extended family sent her copies of their genealogical research (#3.2-3.5). Also included are letters between Weidman's father Frederick "Tex" Hitson and his brother Earl while both were serving in World War I (#4.1). More Hitson family correspondence can be found in Series III. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this series. This series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, WAVES (WOMEN ACCEPTED FOR VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY SERVICE), 1943-2007, n.d. (#6.1-7.1, 23OB.1m-23OB.6m), includes printed material, song books, poems, newsletters, sketches, memorabilia and applications related to Hazel Weidman's military service during World War II. In 1943 she joined the WAVES on her 20th birthday, and consequently trained at the boot camp on the campus of Hunter College, New York. Weidman served at several air stations as a link trainer instructor around the country, and ended her naval career at the Livermore Naval Air Station in 1946 (#6.6). Printed material includes a New York Telephone Company booklet from 1943, distributed to women training at the U.S. Naval Training School at Hunter College, which described how to get around New York City and how to make telephone calls (#6.5), and a "Going Back to Civilian Life" pamphlet published by the War and Navy departments that explained to newly discharged veterans about mustering-out pay, when to wear their uniforms and ribbons as civilians, re-employment rights for veterans, and the G.I. Bill (#6.6). Newsletters published by the various Naval Air Bases where Weidman served include personnel news, official Navy bulletins, and general reports on WAVES activities (#6.3, 6.7, 6.10-6.11). Pieces of Weidman's second class petty office uniform are also included. As a link trainer instructor, she was considered a specialist, and her patches reflect this (#23OB.1m-23OB.6). This series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, CORRESPONDENCE, 1918, 1941-2013, n.d. (#7.2-20.6, 21.9-21.10), Series III, Correspondence, 1918, 1941-2013, n.d. (#7.2-20.6, 21.9-21.10), includes letters with family, friends, and former colleagues. Letters from Estell Griesemer Hitson, Weidman's mother, are full of news of other family members and commentary on what Weidman had written to her (#13.1-13.2). Letters from Weidman's siblings, Chloe "Rusty" Hitson, Anita Hitson Clark, Fred "Bud," and John Hitson all contain family news, health issues, trips, and daily life (#7.9-7.10, 8.8, 13.5-13.7, 14.1). Letters between Hazel and Bill Weidman include notes written while he was in the hospital after his stroke in 1961 (#19.4). Weidman's daughter-in-law Theresa Withee, who runs marathons barefoot, competed in the 2013 Boston Marathon; when the explosions occurred she was a half mile from the finish line. Their correspondence contains an interview given by Theresa and Charles Weidman to the Bangor Daily News (#19.2). Hazel Weidman made connections with the people she met throughout her life, accordingly her correspondence reflects this: included are residents of the Burmese village featured in her dissertation, faculty and staff from the colleges and universities where she taught, neighbors from Florida and Maine, and many family members. Contents of the letters include news of family and mutual friends, current events, health issues, trips, and many other aspects of daily life.
This series includes a number of Weidman's beaus and male friends from World War II. Letters from Warner Britton are mostly from when he was an Army Air Force pilot in the South Pacific during World War II; Britton writes about how he feels about Hazel, about where he is stationed, and describes the missions he has flown on. A letter from Weidman to Britton describes her activities on base. He broke off their relationship quite abruptly in June of 1945 (#8.4). She sent a letter to Veterans Affairs after the war, asking about Britton's whereabouts to return personal items to him. Letters from Bill Matthews are from after World War II, while he was still serving as a U.S. Navy pilot. Matthews writes about their relationship and engagement, his activities as a Navy pilot, and later his studies at the University of Michigan; Weidman broke off their engagement in late 1946 (#14.8-15.1).
Former colleagues often wrote to Weidman about their projects and careers. Hazel Weidman mentored Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health, while he was studying medical anthropology; later the two became friends and their correspondence describes Farmer's work in Haiti and Rwanda (#9.9). While acting as project coordinator for the Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales fundraiser project for the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League (CRAL), Weidman corresponded with authors regarding their entries, biographical notes, and the book's progress (#19.6-20.1). In 2006, in order to re-visit the village of Boneshegon featured in her dissertation, she traveled back to Burma / Myanmar with the intention of publishing a "then and now" memoir. This project proved to be impossible, however, due to the political climate in the region. Letters include descriptions of her trip, project updates to friends and family, and correspondence with possible publishers (#8.2-8.3). Some of Weidman's friends from Burma include Wai Phyo Myint, a social policy consultant for Vriens & Partners, Myanmar (#15.8); Ma Thanegi, contributing editor for the Myanmar Times (#18.4); Margaret Aung-Thwin, former Fulbright Scholar at the International School in Rangoon, and professor of Burmese at Cornell University (#7.7); and Sein Tu, former professor of psychology at Rangoon University and the University of Mandalay (#18.5). There is some overlap with other Hitson family correspondence in Series I. This series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, WILLIAM HAROLD WEIDMAN, 1904-2009, n.d. (#20.7-21.8, FD.1), includes correspondence, financial records, family genealogies, and other material of Bill Weidman. In 1904, William "Bill" Harold Weidman was born Harold William Weidman; his name was changed after the death of his mother. Letters to Bill's sister, Cora Weidman Terry, written while he was at Brown and McGill Universities, describe his struggle to get through college and medical school with very little money (#21.6). Also included is genealogical information about the Weidman family, which appears to have been gathered together by Hazel Weidman from different family members, for the benefit of her children. This series is arranged alphabetically.
Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1896-2014, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.35, E.1), includes photographs of Hazel Weidman, members of the Hitson and the Weidman families, and friends removed from throughout the collection. Included are images from her service as a link trainer instructor in the WAVES, the Naval Air Stations and cities where she served: Alameda, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Livermore, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and the pilots whom she trained. This series is arranged in the order of the series above.
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 [*].
Hazel Marie Hitson Weidman was born in Taft, California, on August 3, 1923, to Frederick "Tex" and Estell (Griesemer) Hitson. She graduated from Taft Union High School in 1941, working briefly after graduation for the U.S. Army at Fort Mason in San Francisco. In 1943 Weidman joined the war effort by signing up with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) on her 20th birthday, which was the minimum age for women to join the military during World War II. Weidman's two brothers, John and Fred, also saw active service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Hazel Weidman attended boot camp at the U.S. Naval Training School at Hunter College, Bronx, New York, where she intended to train as a telegraph / radio specialist. However, after taking aptitude tests during boot camp, Weidman was sent to the Atlanta Naval Air Station to learn to instruct pilots in instrument flight and radio navigation. She was later trained in celestial navigation at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. One aspect of the Atlanta instruction was conducted in "Link Trainers," which gave the instructor the means of creating turbulence and gale force winds from different directions to challenge the pilots. For celestial navigation the trainers simulated the night sky. Link Trainers were created by Link Aviation devices, Inc. and were used widely during World War II for combat training. Navy open-air flight instructors taught Link instrument flight instructors (who were interested) to fly in open-cockpit Boeing Stearman bi-wing planes called "Yellow Perils". Weidman needed six-inch wooden blocks bolted to the rudder pedals in order reach them and to fly safely. During the war, she served at several naval air bases, including the New Orleans Naval Air Station, the Alameda, and Livermore Naval Air Stations in California. Hazel Weidman dated frequently during her service years but was briefly engaged only once, to Bill Mathews, in 1946.
With funding from the G.I. Bill, Weidman studied social anthropology at Northwestern University (B.S. 1951) and Radcliffe College (M.A. 1957, Ph.D. 1959). She traveled to Burma in 1957, studying family structures and socialization practices for her doctoral dissertation, "Family Patterns and Paranoidal Personality Structure in Boston and Burma." After graduation, Hazel Weidman worked for a variety of public health agencies: the U.S. Public Health Service, the Fresno County General Hospital, and the California Department of Public Health. In 1960 she was hired by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, within its Division of Sanatoria and Tuberculosis Control, to coordinate a study related to transforming tuberculosis disease sanatoria into chronic disease hospitals. The study, which was comprised of three parts—statistical and financial, epidemiological and organizational, and legislative—was intended to be incorporated into a sanitary code for the control of tuberculosis. Hazel met William "Bill" Harold Weidman while working for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. They were married on September 9, 1960; and had three children, William Dhu Weidman (died at 10 ½ months), William Brook Weidman (b.1963), and Charles Dhu Weidman (b.1966).
Hazel Weidman first taught sociology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (1964-1965), but she introduced a new course into the curriculum called 'Medical Anthropology." Thereafter, her faculty teaching and research responsibilities were carried out within that framework, which she described as the "study of those long held beliefs and practices within each culture's social systems related to the maintenance of health and well-being." She has held faculty appointments at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama (1965-1968); and as an associate research fellow at the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii, (1967-1968). In 1968 she joined the School of Medicine faculty at the University of Miami where she held teaching positions in both the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Psychiatry until 1988. In 1988 Weidman retired as Director of the Office of Transcultural Education and Research, yet continued to work in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in order to focus on the clinical training of residents in patient care.
After her full retirement in 1990, Weidman moved to Camden, Maine, where, as a fundraiser for the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, she co-edited and published through Trafford Press Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales, a compilation of 50 water-related pet stories written by their owners. In 2001 Hazel Weidman was one of the first occupants of the brand new retirement community of Piper Shores in Scarborough, Maine. By early 2004, however, she began to suffer from allergies, which seemed to clear up when she was away from Piper Shores. Neither Weidman nor the facility were able to pinpoint the exact trigger for the allergies, and she decided to sell her apartment and move to a house owned by her son Charles in Camden, Maine. Several years later Weidman moved into The Highlands, an older retirement community in Topsham, Maine. When total renovations began there, she returned to Florida in late 2010 and moved into a house owned by her son Bill. In 2006, in order to re-visit the Burmese village featured in her dissertation, she planned a return trip to Burma (now Myanmar). Her ultimate goal, which was to publish "Boneshegon: A Photographic Memoir" based her photographs taken in 1957 and 2006 of village life, never saw completion. Weidman was, however, able to reconnect with several old friends in the village of Boneshegon, as well as make new ones.
William "Bill" Harold Weidman was born February 4, 1904, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Gustavus Adolphus and Clara (Hoffman) Weidman. Bill Weidman's mother died in 1907 from tuberculosis, as a result he was sent to live with his older sister Cora Lee Weidman until her marriage to George Terry; he was then sent to live with his aunt Cora Hoffman Keyser. Bill Weidman studied medicine at Brown University (Bachelor of Philosophy, 1926) and McGill University (M.D. 1931). While attending Brown University, he married Mildred Law; they had one daughter, Sara Weidman Dougherty (b.1937), and divorced in 1960. After graduation in 1931, Bill Weidman was diagnosed with active tuberculosis, and recuperated at the Gaylord Farm Sanatorium in Wallingford, Connecticut. In 1933, while interning at the Uncas-on-Thames Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Norwich, he received his license to practice medicine from the state of Connecticut. In 1944 he became the Superintendent at the Uncas-on-Thames Tuberculosis Sanatorium, serving until 1948, when his tuberculosis was diagnosed as reactivated. Bill Weidman stayed at the Laurel Heights Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Shelton, Connecticut, for this bout of tuberculosis until 1952. When his tuberculosis went into remission for the second time, Bill Weidman became a radiologist at the Rutland Heights Veterans Administration Hospital, Rutland, Massachusetts. He also served as Director of the Division of Sanatoria and Tuberculosis Control for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Bill Weidman suffered a stroke in 1961, and died on July 26, 1979.
The collection is arranged in five series:
- Series I. Biographical and personal, 1917-2014, n.d. (#1.1-5.10, 22FB.1)
- Series II. WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), 1943-2007, n.d. (#6.1-7.1, 23OB.1m-23OB.6m)
- Series III. Correspondence, 1918, 1941-2013, n.d. (#7.2-20.6, 21.9-21.10)
- Series IV. William Harold Weidman, 1904-2009, n.d. (#20.7-21.8, FD.1)
- Series V. Photographs, 1896-2014, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.35, E.1)
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2005-M108; 2006-M190; 2007-M68; 2010-M239; 2011-M170; 2013-M168. Accession number: 2013-M224 was added in March 2014. Accession number: 2014-M183 was added in June 2015.
These papers of Hazel Hitson Weidman were given to the Schlesinger Library by Hazel Hitson Weidman between 2005 and 2014.
Donors: Hazel Hitson Weidman
Accession numbers: 2005-M108; 2006-M190; 2007-M68; 2010-M239; 2011-M170
Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:
- "WAVE Songs from Boot camp," by Fran Carey Harriman, n.d.
- While So Serving by Eleanor Hart and Harriet Welling, 1947
- White Caps. WAVES national: newsletter, October 2003, February 2007
The following items have been transferred to the Peabody Museum Archives:
- Material related to Hazel Hitson Weidman's dissertation
- Material related to Hazel Hitson Weidman's career at the University of Miami: contracts, correspondence, memoranda, slides and audio tapes material.
- The Miami Health Ecology Project: U-matic videotape of Hazel Hitson Weidman's presentation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1974; 7 audio tapes of presentations and staff meetings discussing aspects of the Project, and medical anthropology
Processed: October 2013
Updated: June 2015
By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Emily Underwood.
- Aging--United States
- Anthropologists--United States
- Anthropology--Study and teaching
- Burma--Social life and customs--20th century
- Burma--Social life and customs--21st century
- College teachers--United States
- Electronic records
- Financial records
- Hospitals, Convalescent
- Link trainers
- Medical anthropology
- Mothers and daughters--United States
- Mothers and sons--United States
- Radcliffe College--Students
- Sociologists--United States
- Transcultural medical care
- Transcultural medical care--Florida--Miami
- United States--Armed Forces--Women's reserves
- Universities and colleges--Faculty
- Women anthropologists--United States
- Women soldiers--United States
- Women--Education (Higher)--Massachusetts--Cambridge
- World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Female
- Weidman, Hazel Hitson, 1923- . Papers of Hazel Hitson Weidman, 1896-2014: 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 gifts from the Robert and Maurine Rothschild Fund, the Jane Rainie Opel Fund, and the Zetlin Sisters Fund.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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