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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 795: T-503

Records of the Women's Travel Club, 1933-2014


Constitution, by-laws, minutes, programs, travel records, and member biographies of the Women's Travel Club, which was patterned after the Harvard Travellers Club and whose stated purpose was to help other women travelers.


  • Creation: 1933-2014
  • Creation: August 2014

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Women's Travel Club 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


7.92 linear feet ((19 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 supersize folder, 1 audiocassette)

This collection documents the activities of the Women's Travel Club and includes constitutions and by-laws; minutes of monthly, annual, and executive committee meetings; meeting announcements; membership lists; program planning and committee records; biographies and travel accounts for members; obituaries for members and articles by and about them; annual reports; a scrapbook; and an audiocassette. The folder titles were created by the Women's Travel Club. Those assigned by the processor appear in square brackets.

Accession numbers 70-86--75-194, for which a container list had been created in July 1985 and were made up of #1-60 were renumbered as #1.1-5.14 but left in the same order and maintained in a separate series. The more recent accessions, 95-M22, 2005-M46, 2008-M82, 2009-M249, 2010-M58, 2010-M215, 2013-M58, 2014-M78, comprise the remainder of the collection and are maintained in a separate series. Some duplication exists between Series I and Series II.

Series I, ADMINISTRATION AND HISTORY (ACCESSIONS 70-86--75-194), 1933-1974 (#1.1-5.14, SD.1), includes constitutions and by-laws; "president's papers" consisting of minutes, correspondence, and secretaries' reports; financial records; executive committee, monthly, and annual meeting minutes; lists of members and officers; records of members' service during World War II; bulletins of members' travels; a history of the club through 1958; membership nomination forms; publicity; and information about other travel societies. The folders remain in their original order but the folders have been renumbered and date ranges for some folders have been corrected, with some additional information added to folder headings. The series remains in its original hierarchical arrangement.

Series II, ADMINISTRATION AND HISTORY, 1934-2014 (#5.15-19.8, FD.1, T-503.1), includes constitutions and bylaws; meeting announcements and minutes; committee minutes and planning materials; lists of officers and programs; "president's files" containing meeting minutes, lists of members' resignations, and annual reports; financial records; and an audiocassette of a club meeting held at the Schlesinger Library in celebration of the club's 55th anniversary. The series also includes membership lists and members' travel records and biographies. Because the travel club maintained both chronological and alphabetical lists of members at different times, as well as lists of new, deceased, and resigned members, considerable overlap exists among folders. Also included are obituaries for and tributes to deceased members; articles by and about members; a disbound scrapbook containing information about members; membership nomination forms and supporting letters; and talks by members. The series also includes several disbound binders which were labeled "permanent file" and "books 1-4" respectively; these include membership lists, members' biographies, travel records, obituaries, program announcements, minutes, and club officers' files. There is some overlap and duplication among these records and others in Series I and II. This series is arranged hierarchically and generally mirrors that of Series I.


In October 1934, Augusta Batchelder Hartt and several friends began planning a women's travel club modeled on the men-only Harvard Travellers Club, with the goal of providing a venue for women who had taken unusual trips to share their experiences and provide help and advice to other female travelers. By January of the following year, fifty-three women, members of well-known families in the Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, area, had joined the Women's Travel Club, and the first formal meeting was held on January 14th, with Mrs. Carleton S. Coon addressing the group on her "Travels in Southern Arabia." The club held monthly and annual meetings, with a speaker giving a talk about unusual travel, such as an archeological dig in China or botanical research in Canada. Early talks included "Over the Old Jade Road from Yunnanfu to Mandalay" and "Fifteen Months in Communist China, 1948-1950," with later talks ranging from "Restoring Natural Habitat in Chile and Argentina" to "Perspectives on Iran over Four Decades," Other events, such as joint meetings with the Harvard Travellers Club, picnics, teas, luncheons, and a costume party, all focused on some aspect of travel. In its early years, the club frequently had guest speakers who were not members, including Margaret Mead, Jane Goodall, and Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). Initially, talks were illustrated with slides, photographs, movies, or artifacts; later PowerPoint became more common. The nature of the members' travel also changed over time. In her 2010 history of the club, Paula Cronin notes "In the 'good old days,' individuals, couples and families tended to mount their own Grand Tours and often lived overseas for extended periods of time...Today we are more apt to join organized tours with specific orientations." As organized tours became more common, several members of the club began spearheading expeditions, leading groups of travelers on trips to exotic locations.

For the first few years, members met at various public venues including the Boston YWCA, but in 1939 the club began renting part of a building on Fairfield Street in Boston. The advantage of this was that club members could visit the club at any time. The club changed location several times over the next seventeen years, and eventually began holding meetings in members' homes, as well as at museums, libraries, and hotels. During World War II, the club formed a Red Cross Sewing Unit, which met weekly to sew layettes; members also invested in U.S. War Bonds. In 1968, the club began making travel grants to women wishing to study or do research abroad. Notable members of the club included Mary McMillan, the first president of the American Physical Therapy Association and a prisoner of war of the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II; Barbara Washburn, the first woman to climb Mt. McKinley; Marian Cannon Schlesinger, the first wife of historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and her sister, art historian Wilma Cannon Fairbank; and many other mountaineers, explorers, photographers, and sociologists. The club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2009 with a reception and gala at the Wellesley Country Club. As of 2014, the club is still active. (For further information, see the club histories in #4.7 and 5.17.)


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Administration and history (Accessions 70-86--75-194), 1933-1974 (#1.1-5.14, SD.1)
  2. Series II. Administration and history, 1934-2014 (#5.15-19.8, FD.1, T-503.1)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 95-M22, 2005-M46, 2008-M82, 2009-M249, 2010-M58, 2010-M215, 2013-M58, 2014-M78. 70-86--75-194 (for which a container list had been created in 1985) formed the basis of the collection and is located in #1.1-5.14 and SD.1.

The records of the Women's Travel Club were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Women's Travel Club between 1970 and 2014, by Carol Bain in May 2008, and by Paula Cronin between 2009 and 2010.


Donors: Women's Travel Club

Accession numbers: 95-M22, 2014-M78

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Books Department:

  1. Women's Travel Club [Newsletter], vol. 1 no. 1 - vol. 6 no. 1 (March 1984 - October 1989)
  2. Women's Travel Club [Newsletter], Winter 1991
  3. Nichols, Elinor P. True Tales from Jungle India, 2012
  4. Women's Travel Club Bulletin of Members' Travels, 1952-1954

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: July 1985

By: Lucy Thoma

Processed: August 2014

By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Caitlin Jones.

Women's Travel Club. Records of the Women's Travel Club, 1933-2014: 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 a gift from the Women's Travel Club.

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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