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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 812: Vt-253

Papers of Lucy Miller Mitchell, 1919-1988


The papers of Lucy Miller Mitchell include professional correspondence, printed material from organizations concerned with early childhood education, speeches and articles written by or about Lucy Miller Mitchell; also 3 photographs, photocopies of plaques awarded to Mitchell, and 2 videotapes of an interview with Mitchell.


  • Creation: 1919-1988

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Lucy Miller Mitchell 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.


1.46 linear feet ((3 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 2 photograph folders and 2 videotapes)

The Lucy Miller Mitchell papers document Mitchell's dedication to improving standards of Massachusetts child care. As a specialist in early childhood education, her papers feature professional correspondence, speeches, and printed material from Head Start, Massachusetts Department of Education, Family Service Association Service of Greater Boston and numerous other organizations. The collection demonstrates the varying networks and events Mitchell took part in organizing. Original folder titles created by Mitchell were retained.

Series I, PERSONAL, 1919-1988 (#1.1-1.5, PD.1, Vt-253.1-Vt-253.2), includes speeches, articles, correspondences, a photograph of her husband, photocopies of plaques, college memorabilia, and videotapes which illustrate Mitchell's life as a public figure for day care advocacy. The speeches and articles are written by or about Mitchell and her engagement in organizations, workshops, or events. One speech features Mitchell speaking about Mary McLeod Bethune's influence on her life. The correspondence present are generally requests or thank you letters to Mitchell for participating in varying functions. Included in this series are Mitchell's resignation letters to Associated Day Care Services and Robert Gould Shaw House. Materials related to the colleges she attended include commencement programs and semester report cards for Talladega College and Boston University School of Education. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

Series II, ORGANIZATIONS, 1953-1988 (#1.6-4.3, PD.2, FD.1), includes newspaper clippings, programs, reports, evaluations, agendas, directories, and meeting minutes. This series features materials documenting Mitchell's involvement in organizations, workshops, and conferences. Also included are letters requesting her to speak at events, along with the information she presented or provided. The videotapes feature Mitchell sharing her ancestral history as well as reflecting on her life and involvement in a number of organizations. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

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


A specialist in early childhood education, Lucy Miller Mitchell devoted close to 50 years to improving standards of child care in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1899, she lived with her mother, Laura Clayton Miller. She was educated from kindergarten through high school at Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute. There, she witnessed Mary McLeod Bethune courageously face down the Ku Klux Klan. After graduating magna cum laude from Talladega College in 1922 with a Bachelor of Science degree, she returned to the Daytona School to teach for one year. Although Bethune and the trustees of the school expressed a wish that the "mantle of leadership" should pass to Lucy, she instead chose marriage to Joseph Mitchell and a move to Boston, Massachusetts. Together they had two children, Laura Mitchell Holland (1924-2006) and Joseph S. Mitchell, Jr (1926-2004).

Concern for the education of her children led Mitchell into the field which became her life work. She met Abigail A. Eliot, a pioneer in nursery education, when she registered her eldest child for admission to Ruggles Street Nursery School and Training Center. Through Eliot's encouragement, Mitchell volunteered and later enrolled in courses at the Nursery Training School. She received certification in 1934, and was awarded a master's degree in early childhood education from Boston University in 1935. As director of the nursery school at Robert Gould Shaw House from 1932 to 1953, Mitchell developed a model school to which many students were sent for field work and practice teaching. She was a member of the structuring committee of Associated Day Care Services of Metropolitan Boston, and later its educational director and acting executive director. In 1953 the governor of Massachusetts appointed Mitchell to a special commission to study the licensing of day care agencies; licensing legislation was passed after ten years' effort. Subsequently, she worked with the Massachusetts Department of Education in designing low-cost extension courses for day care workers. After retirement from the Associated Day Care Services, she trained Peace Corps volunteers to work with children, consulted for National Head Start, and helped launch and implement local Boston early childhood programs.

Mitchell passed away in 2002, after a life devoted to improving standards for group care of young children. Her deep concern for social welfare is reflected in her service as a board member of such organizations as United Community Services of Metropolitan Boston, the Boston YWCA, Family Service Association of Greater Boston, Boston Center for Adult Education, and Fort Hill Mental Health Association. She served as president of the Boston Association of Nursery Education and was among a small group that helped Muriel Snowden and her husband Otto Snowden establish Freedom House, an organization devoted to serving the Roxbury community. Later in her life she also devoted her energy to aging and senior citizen issues. She was a member of several clubs for African American professional women including The Links, Inc., and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

For further biographical information, see the interview with Mitchell in the Black Women Oral History Project sponsored by the Schlesinger Library.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Personal, 1919-1988 (#1.1-1.5, PD.1, Vt-253.1-Vt-253.2)
  2. Series II. Organizations, 1953-1988 (#1.6-4.3, PD.2, FD.1)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 1988-M146, 1989-M102, 2003-M39, 2012-M207

These papers of Lucy Miller Mitchell were given to the Schlesinger Library by Lucy Miller Mitchell in 1988 and 1989. In 2003 Mitchell's daughter, Laura Holland, donated a photograph of her father Joseph Mitchell. In 2012, Roy Freed donated the videotapes of Mitchell.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Black Women Oral History Project (OH-31).

Processing Information

Processed: November 2014

By: Micha Broadnax, with assistance from Dan Bullman.

Mitchell, Lucy Miller, 1899-2002. Papers of Lucy Miller Mitchell, 1919-1988: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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