Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 770

Papers of Nona Baldwin Brown, 1908-2001 (inclusive), 1935-1979 (bulk)

Collection includes baby books; journalism class papers; correspondence; scrapbooks; military records; newspaper articles by and about Brown; oral history transcripts; and photographs documenting the life of journalist Nona Baldwin Brown.

Dates

  • 1908-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1935-1979

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Nona Baldwin Brown 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.

Extent

5.09 linear feet ((9 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 1 folio folder, 2 folio+ folders, 23 photograph folders, and 1 folio+ photograph folder)

Collection includes baby books; journalism class papers; correspondence; scrapbooks; military records; articles by and about Brown; oral history transcripts; and photographs, documenting the life of journalist Nona Baldwin Brown. Her scrapbooks document her teenage years, her family, experiences as a Vassar College student in the 1930s, and her wartime marriage in 1944. Brown's professional files provide insight into her journalism career, and include clippings of her work from newspapers and magazines, as well as drafts, interview and research notes, and correspondence related to developing articles for publication from the 1940s to 1990s for the New York Times. Photographs document her life from infancy, her school years, experiences traveling in Europe during the outbreak of World War II, her military service in the WAVES, to her interaction with the Washington, DC, political elite of the 1950s and 1960s. The small number of original folder titles appear in quotation marks.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1908-2001 (#1.1-3.11, 10F+B.1v - 10F+B.4, FD.1, F+D.1 - F+D.2) includes Brown's baby books from 1918; clippings referring to Brown; journalism class papers; college scrapbooks; WAVE military records and oral history re: military service; and White House event invitations/programs. Brown chronicled her travel experiences at the American Friends Service Committee volunteer work camp in Flint, Michigan (1938); trip to Europe during outbreak of World War II (1939); and Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship trip to South America (1940-1941) through correspondence, notes, scrapbooks, and journals. Brown's wartime wedding is documented in a scrapbook, announcements, clippings, and photographs. The correspondence files begin with a letter from Brown's father-in-law Clinton (Brown's husband was also named Clinton) to his grandmother while working in Budapest, Hungary, in 1912. Correspondence continues, arranged generationally by Brown's family members and chronologically within, followed by general correspondence. General correspondence files are often a mixture of personal and professional letters with Brown. Additional correspondence can be found in Series II. Brown's original folder titles appear in quotation marks in the inventory, while all others were designated by the archivist. Series folders are listed in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within.

Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1936-1998 (#4.1-9.12) includes Brown's work files, correspondence, professional memberships, and speeches. Files related to articles often include the published clipping itself, interview and phone call notes, correspondence between Brown and her editor, research, and drafts. Article topics include political issues and travel in South America (during her Pulitzer Travel Scholarship trip); interviews (with Mrs. Wendell Willkie, Mamie Eisenhower, and Lady Bird Johnson); Jacqueline Kennedy's renovation of the White House; political news; travel (frequently Budapest, Hungary, and Colonial Williamsburg); women in the military; hurricanes; preservation of historical buildings; etc. Articles were written for the New York Times unless otherwise listed in the inventory. Brown contributed to the 1961 Presidential Inaugural Program, writing a history of the White House building. Her file on the entry contains the inaugural program itself and drafts on her section. Folders are arranged chronologically, with original folder titles appearing in quotation marks.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1925-1968 (#PD.1-PD.24) includes images of Brown in school group portraits, graduating Vassar College, attending White House events, working, on trips, and portraits. Brown's trip to Europe during the outbreak of World War II is illustrated with views of European cities preparing for an invasion, as well as her unscheduled return trip aboard the SS Washington, overloaded with American refugees fleeing Europe, and included some of the Kennedy family and other notable figures. Brown's trip to Brazil during Carnival, sponsored by her Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship (see also Series I and II) is documented with photographs of Brown interviewing King Momo and other celebrants of Carnival. Her career as a journalist in New York City and Washington, DC, is illustrated by photographs of Brown interviewing Mrs. Wendell Willkie with other journalists; of White House parties attended by Brown with President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline; interviews on the campaign plane with Lady Bird Johnson during the Presidential election race in 1964; portraits of Brown in front of the United States Capitol Building; and in the press workroom off the Senate Press Gallery. Folders are arranged in chronological order.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database.

BIOGRAPHY

Nona Baldwin Brown was born on May 11, 1918, to Allen Thomas Baldwin and Helen Pugh Smitheman Baldwin in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Brown graduated from Montclair High School (1935) and went on to attend Vassar College (A.B. 1939). She received an advanced degree in journalism from Columbia University (M.S. 1940) and was permanently hired by the New York Times after volunteering as a student researcher for the newspaper's special section to the New York World's Fair. Considered one of the first woman cub reporters for the city section, Brown received assignments for routine events around New York City, as well as occasional interviews (Mrs. Wendell Willkie during the night of the 1940 Presidential election). Awarded the Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship in 1940, she left the newspaper temporarily and traveled in South America for nine months. Brown continued to file articles on issues related to the countries she visited, the majority published by the New York Times. Upon returning from South America in 1941, she was rehired for her former position at the paper. In 1942, Brown was promoted to the Washington Bureau, where her assignments included consumer news, war production board limitations on consumer goods, rationing rules, and broad economic reporting. Soon after moving to Washington, DC, Brown temporarily left the Washington Bureau and joined the newly formed Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) in the United States Naval Reserve. From 1942 to 1945, she served in the Navy as a public relations press officer, handling press release work for the WAVES. In 1944, Brown married Clinton Bleecker Duma Brown in New York City, both in their military uniforms.

Brown left the military and went back to the New York Times Washington Bureau in 1945, eventually switching to the Sunday Department, at which time her assignments included covering political news; meteorological reporting; economics; interviewing First Ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Lady Bird Johnson; covering President Harry Truman during budget briefings; and attending Presidential press conferences. Brown was also asked to write a section on the White House building for the 1961 Kennedy/Johnson inaugural program. In 1963, she moved to the top Sunday Department slot in Washington (unofficially editor), and was in charge of all filings for the special Sunday sections and Sunday Department. After retiring from the Washington Bureau in 1973, Brown continued to work on freelance projects, mainly related to topics that interested her personally, including her regular trips to Hungary with her husband, preservation of historical homes, Colonial Williamsburg, and Carter's Grove Plantation. She continued writing for publications until the 2000s. At the age of 94, she published a memoir highlighting her work as a female journalist, Through the Opening Door: My Pioneering Journey in Mainstream Journalism (2012). Brown passed away in 2014.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in three series:
  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1908-2001 (#1.1-3.11, 10F+B.1v - 10F+B.4, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2)
  2. Series II. Professional, 1936-1998 (#4.1-9.12)
  3. Series III. Photographs, ca.1925-1968 (#PD.1-PD.24)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 99-M98; 2003-M117; 2003-M128

The papers of Nona Baldwin Brown were given to the Schlesinger Library by Nona Baldwin Brown between June 1999 and October 2003.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2013

By: Stacey Flatt, with assistance of Emily Underwood.
Link to catalog
Title
Brown, Nona Baldwin, 1918-2014. Papers of Nona Baldwin Brown, 1908-2001 (inclusive), 1935-1979 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
EAD ID
sch01456

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.

Contact:
3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-8647