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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 834

Papers of Celia T. Hubbard, 1887-2014 (inclusive), 1945-1991 (bulk)


Diaries, notebooks, correspondence, and artwork of gallery owner, artist, and antique dealer Celia T. Hubbard. Articles, posters, and publicity materials pertaining to the Botolph Group art gallery and to the artist Corita are also included.


  • Creation: 1887-2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1945-1991

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Celia T. Hubbard 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.


17.18 linear feet ((32 + 1/2 file boxes, 2 folio boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 4 folio+ folders, 1 supersize folder, 18 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 14 slides)

This collection documents Celia T. Hubbard's personal and professional life and includes diaries and notebooks; appointment books; financial and medical records; correspondence (including family members, artists, and religious figures); drawings and other artwork by Hubbard; articles, flyers, posters, and other publicity for the Botolph Group art gallery; publicity for exhibitions of Hubbard's art; account books and purchase and sales lists for her antiques business; articles from 1940s magazines with illustrations by Hubbard; a program and album from the Grand Ballet du Marques de Cuevas; writings and speeches by Hubbard; photographs; posters of Corita's artwork and articles about her. Some material related to Hubbard's great grandmother, Celia Thaxter, and other members of the Hubbard and Thaxter families is also included. Folder headings were created by the archivist; headings created by Hubbard or her heirs appear in quotation marks.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1887-2014 (scattered) (#1.1-19.5, 35FB.1-35FB.2), includes articles about Hubbard, including her work in ballet and with the Botolph Group, and her career as an artist; her diaries and notebooks in which she recorded her thoughts and activities; appointment books; and financial and medical records. The series also includes memoirs and other writings by Hubbard's mother, Elizabeth Thaxter Hubbard, and her aunt, Rosamond Thaxter; correspondence received by her mother; correspondence and articles pertaining to her great grandmother, writer Celia Thaxter; and an obituary and memorial service program for her father. Hubbard took a number of classes on mysticism, personal growth, and mind control, and the series includes material related to these classes. Of particular note is an oral history interview in which Hubbard describes her work in the advertising business in the 1940s; how she decided to go to Europe and work in the ballet; and her religious conversion. Also of note is Hubbard's list of "things I don't like about myself," probably compiled for a self-help class. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1932-2011 (#19.6-27.1, 35FB.3), contains personal and professional correspondence and includes Hubbard's correspondence with artists such as Corita, Robert Cronin, and Tomie dePaola; religious friends including Constance Parvey and Archbishop Richard J. Cushing; and family members, including her parents and her nephew Eliot. Much of this correspondence describes Botolph Group activities. Of particular note is Hubbard's letter to her parents from Europe, in which she tells them of her decision to become a Catholic. The series also includes letters related to events celebrating Celia Thaxter, Hubbard's great grandmother, and letters describing Hubbard's addictions, declining mental and physical health, and related hospital stays. The series is arranged with alphabetical correspondence appearing first, followed by chronological correspondence. Some overlap exists between the two groups.

Series III, PROFESSIONAL, 1945-1993 (#27.2-33.6, 34FB.1m-35FB.10, F+D.1-F+D.4, 36OB.1-36OB.7, SD.1), contains flyers, lists of purchases and sales, and other financial records for Hubbard's antiques business; Hubbard's artwork, including sketches of animals, costume designs, and religious images; publicity for exhibits of Hubbard's art; and writings by Hubbard, including poetry, essays, and articles on art and religion. The series also documents the Botolph Group gallery, including articles about the gallery and artists who exhibited there; flyers and other publicity for its exhibits; "Botolph original" greeting cards; and scrapbooks of Botolph Group clippings and flyers. In addition, the series includes a program and commemorative album for the Grand Ballet du Marque de Cuevas; articles from Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle's Living, and Popular Home; featuring illustrations by Hubbard; articles about Corita, as well as posters and other artwork by her; and clippings and other promotional materials for Project, Inc., and "An Evening with God." Of particular note are Hubbard's memoir of her years with the ballet, "Mlle Muster for Spars" (a booklet regarding career options for members of the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard), and a paint set belonging to Hubbard, including powdered paints, paint scrapers, and a pair of eyeglasses (#34FB.1m). The series also includes religious images collected by Hubbard and photographs of everyday objects which served as inspiration for her artwork. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1921-1997 (#PD.1-PD.21), includes photographs of Hubbard alone and with family and friends, including with Corita at Botolph Group events. The series also includes images of dignitaries at Botolph Group exhibits; Hubbard family members; images of Hubbard's artwork; photographs by Hubbard; and images of Corita. The series is arranged with photographs of Hubbard appearing first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement.

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


Artist, gallery owner, and antique dealer Celia Thaxter Hubbard was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 11, 1920, the daughter of Elizabeth (Thaxter) Hubbard and Eliot Hubbard, Jr., a pediatrician at Children's Hospital. She had two brothers, Eliot III and John. Her great-grandmother was Celia Thaxter, a Victorian-era poet. She was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Interested in art from an early age, she attended the Boston Museum School, interrupting her studies during World War II to do defense work and work in the accident ward of a Boston hospital. After the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, Hubbard was asked to help relatives identify victims. This grisly experience prompted her return to the art world; she moved to New York City and took night classes at the New School for Social Research (now New School University), studying under art director and photographer Alixi Brodovitch, while also working as an assistant at an advertising agency run by Fleur Fenton. Brodovitch recommended Hubbard for a job as assistant art director for Mademoiselle and she also did some freelance design work in New York. In 1948, she moved to Europe, where she designed costumes and sets for ballet companies in France and Spain, including the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.

While in France, Hubbard, who was raised as a Protestant, read Catholic mystic Thomas Merton's book, The Seven Storey Mountain, which inspired her to convert to Catholicism. She seriously considered becoming a Carmelite nun but after consulting her spiritual advisor, she ultimately decided to focus on bringing Christ to the world through art. In 1952 she returned to Cambridge, where she lived in a renovated barn (formerly used by her father to raise homing pigeons) and continued her painting and other artistic work. In 1954 she opened The Botolph Group, a non-profit center and gallery for contemporary religious art, located on Newbury Street in Boston. The group's initial aim was to improve the standard of religious vestments and art, and to help bring a more contemporary aesthetic to the interiors of Boston-area churches. Artists represented by the gallery included Tomie dePaola, Robert Cronin, Norman Laliberte, and Corita Kent, all of whom created spiritually-influenced artwork. In addition to regular exhibits of works by other artists, the gallery held an annual exhibition of Corita's work and created a line of greeting cards, known as "Botolph Originals," featuring artists' work. Corita and Hubbard became close friends, with Corita staying with Hubbard after leaving her religious order in 1968.

Hubbard wrote and lectured about religious art, with many of her articles appearing in the Catholic newspaper The Pilot. In the early 1960s, Hubbard and artist Rita DeLisi set up Project, Inc., an experimental art school in Cambridge, to foster visual education. The school had hundreds of students, ranging in age from preschoolers to senior citizens, and offered classes in ceramics, photography, and other art forms before closing in 1984. In 1967, Hubbard and her assistant, artist Mickey Myers, held "An Evening with God," an evening of music and performance art at the Boston Tea Party, a rock club. The event featured a belly dancer from Boston's Combat Zone, as well as Corita, Judy Collins, Harvey Cox, and Daniel Berrigan. This event was sold out and drew national attention. In 1971, citing rising rents, Hubbard closed the Botolph Group and opened an antiques business and small art gallery in Cambridge. She also focused on her own creative endeavors: painting, photography, and poetry, with her work shown at the DeCordova Museum, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Horticultural Society of New York. In her later years, she suffered from declining health, alcoholism, and depression, as well as an addiction to prescription medication. She died of pneumonia on August 12, 2013, in Waltham, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1887-2014 (scattered) (#1.1-19.5, 35FB.1-35FB.2)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1932-2011 (#19.6-27.1, 35FB.3)
  3. Series III. Professional, 1945-1993 (#27.2-33.6, 34FB.1m-35FB.10, F+D.1-F+D.4, 36OB.1-36OB.7, SD.1)
  4. Series III. Photographs, ca.1921-1997 (#PD.1-PD.21)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2014-M60, 2014-M76

The papers of Celia T. Hubbard were given to the Schlesinger Library by Hubbard's nieces and nephews, Jennifer Hubbard Alba, Eliot Selznick Hubbard, Jonathan Van Hook Hubbard, Nathaniel Evans Hubbard, Sarah Hubbard Krieger, John Faulkner Hubbard Jr., Nicholas Thaxter Hubbard, and Peter Bellwood Hubbard between April and May 2014.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Corita (MC 583) and Marguerite Manning Papers (89-M81).


Donors: Celia T. Hubbard

Accession number: 2014-M60

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials collection:

  1. Hubbard, Celia. ed. Let's See No. 1: The Use and Misuse of Visual Arts in Religious Education. Paulist Press (Paulist Fathers): Glen Rock, New Jersey, 1966

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials collection pending review by curator:

  1. Better Nutrition, October 1972
  2. Corita. Footnotes and Headlines: A Play-Prayerbook. New York: Herder and Herder, 1969
  3. Hubbard, Elizabeth Thaxter.Mini Memories.Cambridge, Mass., 1970
  4. Kirshman, Irena. Eggs, Potpourri Press: Greensboro, N.C., 1986
  5. The Last Irregular Bulletin. Immaculate Heart College
  6. Mlle Muster for Spurs (under the auspices of the Women's Resreve of the United States Coast Guard and Mademoiselle Magazine, 1945
  7. Walters, Margarete. Poems. Janet Rhodes, Trapelo Road, Lincoln, Mass.
  8. Women Friends in Council. Lynn, Mass: The Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Co., ca.1880

Processing Information

Processed: January 2016

By: Susan Earle, with assistance from Dan Bullman.

Hubbard, Celia T., 1920-2013. Papers of Celia T. Hubbard, 1887-2014 (inclusive), 1945-1991 (bulk): 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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