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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 805

Papers of Frances Hovey Howe, 1939, 1959-1983


Papers of Frances Hovey Howe document the creation of child care centers at Radcliffe and Harvard in the 1970s.


  • 1939,
  • 1959-1983

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Frances Hovey Howe 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.


8.55 linear feet ((20 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 photograph folder)
The papers of Frances Hovey Howe document the development of child care centers at Radcliffe College and Harvard University in the 1970s. The collection contains correspondence, resource files, syllabi and readings on child development and early childhood education; meeting minutes; daily logbooks of the work of the Harvard Child Care Advisor; reports, plans, records of the Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Council, etc. In addition to Howe's own files from her work at Radcliffe and Harvard, a number of files from other Harvard staff who worked on the creation of child care centers are also included. In addition to projects at Radcliffe and Harvard, Howe's papers also contain material on child care initiatives in Cambridge and Boston, and day care at other colleges and universities. There is very little personal material, and much of that is related to Howe's work with early childhood education or the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association.

The first two series include Howe's files used or created for the two official roles she played at the University; these are chronologically distinct and were relatively easy to distinguish. Files regarding the Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Steering Committee (later Child Care Council) spanned Howe's tenure at Radcliffe and Harvard. It is likely she began these files while at Radcliffe, and moved the files with her to her office at Harvard. For that reason, and so as to keep the material together, they have been grouped into their own series.

Folder titles are original. Many titles are similar, and not particularly descriptive; further description of contents has been added when necessary. Titles in brackets were created by the archivist.

Series I, RADCLIFFE COORDINATOR OF CHILD CARE, 1968-1974 (#1.1-5.2, PD.1), includes correspondence, reports, notes, syllabi, and data produced by Howe while Coordinator of Child Care at Radcliffe. Files document the actual administration of Radcliffe child care centers as well as research and correspondence focused on changing and formalizing the University's overall role in child care. In addition to material from Howe's official tenure as Coordinator of Child Care Programs at Radcliffe, the series also includes a number of files from her work on Radcliffe College Alumnae Association's KNOW committee, which ultimately led to her formal role as coordinator. The Radcliffe College Alumnae Association formed a "New Opportunities for Women" committee to explore hurdles to college-educated women's professional achievement. Howe chaired an offshoot of this committee, called "KNOW," primarily focused on issues relating to younger graduates. In September 1970 the KNOW committee published a report calling for Harvard University to take responsibility in providing day care in order to better support its female staff and students. Howe also felt the need for, and then organized, a series of classes on child care and child development, which were taught at the Radcliffe Seminars from 1970 to 1972. These classes were meant to help child care providers, administrators, and parents, learn about child educational development and the responsibilities of group child care. The classes were taught by Harvard School of Education professors and by experienced child care providers, and could be taken for credit through the Harvard Extension School. The series is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, General files, 1968-1974 (#1.1-2.17), includes correspondence, notes, reports, syllabi, etc., relating to child care efforts at Radcliffe College, and to a series of classes Howe organized at the Radcliffe Seminars on child care. General incoming correspondence is primarily from other institutions looking to set up day care centers, and from Radcliffe alumnae who were also working on child care or similar issues. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries B, Radcliffe child care centers, 1970-1974 (#2.18-5.2, PD.1), contains budgets, correspondence with parents and administrators, reports, and other material relating to the creation and continued administration of a number of different child care programs organized by Radcliffe. As Radcliffe Child Care Coordinator, Frances Howe was charged with overseeing the child care programs that had sprung up organically, as well as establishing an administrative structure and providing guidance to these programs and to Radcliffe. A preschool for children aged two to five was run out of the Radcliffe Gymnasium; a day care center for infants up to age five was established in Currier House in the Radcliffe Quad; several Radcliffe students ran a summer playgroup in the School of Education's Larsen Hall; and a co-operative child care group was run out of Comstock Hall. Howe hired staff, managed applications, and negotiated with University officials on behalf of the centers. In 1972 the Lyman room at Currier House and the Gymnasium preschool merged to become the Radcliffe Child Care Center. This subseries contains files that relate specifically to the separate programs, as well as to the overall program. Material documents the beginning of structured oversight of child care programs at Radcliffe, and a focus on what children should learn and do in group care. Parent responses to questionnaires (#3.10, 4.1) comment on the quality of the care and the continued need for available child care in a university setting. Despite the specificity of some folder titles, material relating to all centers is present in most folders. Howe's correspondence with and reports to Radcliffe College Presidents Mary "Polly" Bunting and Matina Horner can be found throughout the subseries. A few folders on Radcliffe Child Care Centers from the late 1970s can be found in Series II, Subseries B. Material is arranged with general files first, followed by files on individual centers. Within each grouping, folders are organized chronologically.

Series II, HARVARD CHILD CARE ADVISOR, 1967-1980 (#5.3-13.9), includes correspondence, reports, data, and notes by Howe during her 6-year tenure in this position. Howe was appointed the first Child Care Advisor to the Vice-President for Administration at Harvard in July 1974. After restructuring, the position reported to the Director of Personnel. Material documents Howe's focus on making child care a "normal" function of the University; her position called for her to "propose and develop child care services where appropriate within the University structure." She also collected data on children enrolled at the various centers, organized meetings of center directors, communicated with University officials about the need for more child care centers and spots for children, and fielded calls from parents needing child care. Included in this series are daily notebooks recording her incoming and outgoing calls, work tasks to be done, notes on meetings, etc. While serving as Child Care Advisor, Howe also served as organizer and first director of the Soldier's Field Park Children's Center; her files on that center are in Subseries B. Howe retired in 1980. Files of administrators Loretta "Lori" Stokes and Meg Dickinson Doty, who both worked on child care at Harvard in the years leading up to Howe's appointment, can be found in Series III. The series is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, General files, 1974-1980 (#5.3-8.11), includes correspondence, reports, budgets, and Howe's notebooks where she recorded her daily phone calls, meeting notes, work done, etc. Subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries B, Child care centers, 1967-1980 (#8.12-13.9) includes notes, questionnaires, correspondence, lists, minutes, and policy guidelines for child care centers operating at Harvard under the guidance of the Child Care Advisor. Some files date from before Howe's appointment, these appear to be a combination of material she collected while working for Radcliffe, and that kept by other Harvard staff. Files on the Soldier's Field Park center, which Howe organized, planned, and served as its first director, are especially robust, and detail the types of long-range planning that was undertaken. Soldier's Field Park was the first child care center that Harvard actually initiated as part of a planned housing complex. Floor plans and playground diagrams exist for some centers. Efforts to organize a child care center near to the medical school and hospitals are well-documented (#9.6-10.3). Subseries is arranged alphabetically by center name, and chronologically thereunder.

Series III, HARVARD-RADCLIFFE CHILD CARE COUNCIL, 1969-1980 (#13.10-18.2), includes correspondence, agendas, minutes, notes, data, and reports documenting the work of the Harvard-Radcliffe Steering Committee on Child Care and the Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Council. The Steering Committee on Child Care was established in 1970 to assist the University in preparing a response to increased student and staff demand for University-funded day care. The Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Council, a re-visioning of the Steering Committee, was established in April 1972 to formally facilitate the development of child care within the Harvard/Radcliffe community. Howe was initially a member of the Steering Committee and the Child Care Council given her position at Radcliffe; once Child Care Advisor she became a staff designee on the Child Care Council and part of its Executive Committee. Material in this series documents discussion of and advocacy regarding Harvard's official policies toward administration of its child care centers and day care in general.

Most files in this series belonged to Frances Howe; those created by other people follow Howe's chronologically-arranged files, and are noted as such. Two folders of notes and correspondence from Harvard Business School representatives to the Council, Nancy Calderwood and Janet Short, are included. Several files belonged to Meg Dickinson Doty, who worked for Edward Gruson, the Assistant to the President for Community Affairs, in 1970 and 1971. Doty was the assistant to Walter J. Leonard, a "Special Assistant to the President," from 1972 until she left Harvard in 1975. Doty took minutes for the Child Care Council, some of her files include shorthand notes from meetings. Loretta "Lori" Stokes worked in the Personnel Department at Harvard, and was another female staff member to whom some of the Harvard-wide day care matters fell. Her file "need for day care" (#17.4), includes a memo in which she addresses the issue of whether Harvard should provide day care for staff only, or also for faculty and students, as the KNOW proposal advocated. Stokes also served as the liason between the Council and the City of Cambridge's Council for Children. Doty and Stokes's files provide insight into discussions and attitudes toward university-sponsored child care at Harvard before Howe's appointment in 1974. While Howe spent the early 1970s working with Radcliffe staff and students toward a common goal of better child care services, Doty and Stokes encountered opposition from (generally) male administrators. The subseries is arranged with Howe's files followed by those of other staff; each person's files are listed chronologically.

Series IV, RESEARCH AND SUBJECT FILES, 1939, 1959-1983 (#18.3-21.5), includes notes, clippings, reports, and correspondence, primarily related to issues of child care. Some of this material may have been used by Howe during her positions at Radcliffe and Harvard; when this was unclear from the file contents, those files were included in this series. Material relates to Cambridge and Boston child care coalitions, centers, and initiatives. Several files document child care efforts at other universities. A few files document Howe's efforts with the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association and the local chapters of the National Organization for Women. Several letters in the one folder of personal correspondence show Howe's importance as a mentor to some in the Radcliffe and Harvard day care community. The series is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Frances Fairfax Hovey Howe was born January 23, 1917, to Barbara B. and E. Clarence Hovey, Jr. She was raised in Milton and Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts, and attended the Winsor School in Boston, graduating in 1934. She was married to John S. Howe (Harvard class of 1936), a banker, in 1939. They had two children, Peter (b. 1953) and Emily (b. 1955), and lived on Mt. Vernon Street in Boston. Howe began her Radcliffe College education in the fall of 1935, but withdrew after a semester because of a family illness. She returned to Radcliffe in 1949, and graduated cum laude in 1952. She later attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education (M Ed, 1973).

Frances Hovey Howe became interested in day care when her children were young and she discovered the few options available for quality child care. In 1955 she began the Beacon Hill Nursery School in Boston as a cooperative with Susan Storey Lyman (Radcliffe College Class of 1949). Howe served as a teacher, director, and as Chair of the school's Board of Directors until 1963. To learn more about early childhood education, Howe undertook teacher apprentice training at Shady Hill School in 1959, and also took classes at the Harvard School of Education, eventually earning a degree in 1973.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Howe worked with others at Radcliffe to help organize and sustain a child care program. Howe also felt the need for, and then organized, a series of classes on child care and child development, which were taught at the Radcliffe Seminars from 1970 to 1972. These classes were meant to help child care providers, administrators, and parents learn about child educational development and the responsibilities of group child care. The classes were taught by Harvard School of Education professors and by experienced child care providers, and could be taken for credit through the Harvard Extension School.

Howe worked as the Coordinator of Child Care programs at the Radcliffe Institute in the early 1970s, and was the first Child Care Advisor at Harvard from 1974 until her retirement in 1980. In this capacity, she coordinated efforts to formalize the various child care programs operating at Harvard, and was instrumental in setting up the Soldier's Field Park child care center at the Harvard Business School. She also served on and chaired the Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Council.

Howe served on the boards of the Church Home Society, the Advent School (Boston, Mass.), the Shady Hill School (Cambridge, Mass.), Lesley College (Cambridge, Msss.), the Radcliffe Alumnae Association, the French Library in Boston, the Center for Parent Education (Newton, Mass.), and was Treasurer of the Chilton Club, Vice-Chair of the Friends of the Boston Public Library, and Chair of the Board of Examiners of the Boston Public Library. She died in 2001.


The collection is arranged in four series:
  1. Series I. Radcliffe Coordinator of Child Care, 1968-1974 (#1.1-5.2, PD.1)
  2. ___Subseries A. General files, 1968-1974 (#1.1-2.17)
  3. ___Subseries B. Radcliffe child care centers, 1970-1974 (#2.18-5.2, PD.1)
  4. Series II. Harvard Child Care Advisor, 1967-1980 (#5.3-13.9)
  5. ___Subseries A. General files, 1974-1980 (#5.3-8.11)
  6. ___Subseries B. Child care centers, 1967-1980 (#8.12-13.9)
  7. Series III. Harvard-Radcliffe Child Care Council, 1969-1980 (#13.10-18.2)
  8. Series IV. Research and subject files, 1939, 1959-1983 (#18.3-21.5)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: R93-10

The papers of Frances Hovey Howe were given to the Schlesinger Library by Frances Hovey Howe in 1993.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Child Care Research Project Collection, 1963-1981 (Pr-18) and Howe's Radcliffe College thesis, "Leonora O'Reilly, socialist and reformer, 1870-1927" (Radcliffe College Theses 75.1).
SEPARATION RECORD Donors: Frances Hovey Howe

Accession number: R93-10

Processed by: Jenny Gotwals

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book and Printed Materials Division from the collection:
  1. Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. Day Care...Who Needs It? An Introduction to Day Care Planning. February 1971
  2. Cambridge Council for Children. Concern issues: January 1977, January-February 1979, November 1981, May 1982
  3. Cambridge Youth Resources Bureau and Paul Celuzza. Connections: A Youth Resource Book and Directory for Cambridge. 1976.
  4. The Center for Parent Education Newsletter issues: December 1978, February 1979
  5. Child Care Information Exchange issues: summer 1978, September 1978, November, 1978, February 1979, April 1979
  6. Child Care News issues: December 1981, January/February 1982, September 1982
  7. Day Care and Child Development Council of America. Voice for Children issues: January 1970, February 1970, June-July 1971, March 1974, April 1974, October 1974, January 1975, June 1980
  8. Infant-Toddler Forum and The Child Care Resource Center, Inc. Greater Boston Infant-Toddler Handbook: Care and Services for Children and Their Families. Fall 1975.
  9. New Schools Exchange Newsletter issues: 33, 36, 54
  10. On Becoming A Woman Doctor: Information for College and Graduate Women.Written by women medical students at Harvard Medical School. January 1975 (second edition)
SEPARATION RECORD Issues of the following periodicals were transferred to the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Gutman Library:
  1. The American Montessori Society bulletin
  2. The Constructive Triangle

Processing Information

Processed: January 2015

By: Jenny Gotwals, with the assistance of Dan Bullman.
Link to catalog
Howe, Frances Hovey. Papers of Frances Hovey Howe, 1939, 1959-1983: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Esther Margaret Ridder Preservation Fund, the Class of 1950 Fund, the Jeannette Ward Fund, and the Mary Maples Dunn Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

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