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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 863

Papers of Elizabeth Moulton, 1934-2014


Correspondence, journals, and writings of author, artist, and Radcliffe College alumna Elizabeth Moulton.


  • Creation: 1934-2014

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Elizabeth Moulton is held by Henry H. Moulton. Upon his death, copyright descends to Peter H. Moulton. Upon the death of Peter Moulton, copyright will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. 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.


10.8 linear feet ((26 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 photograph folder)
4.16 Megabytes (36 files)

The Elizabeth Moulton papers contain correspondence, stories and articles written by Moulton, as well as her numerous journals which document her life as a mother and writer and provide insight into her daily activities; her friends; family obligations; and writing, with its subsequent challenges and rewards. Within the inventory, folder titles which were created by Elizabeth Moulton or Henry Moulton are expressed in quotes. Prior to the collection's deposit at the Schlesinger Library, Henry Moulton grouped some material into folders by topic -- these include correspondence and other materials about Elizabeth Moulton's works and about people, places, and things of interest to her. Many of these folders were retained and incorporated into their relevant series.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1934-2014 (#1.1-2.32, F+D.1), contains materials related to Moulton's personal life and history and includes correspondence, notes, clippings, as well as some writings that are of a particularly personal nature, including those regarding family members and friends. The letters from Elizabeth Moulton to her mother Katharine Munroe Day (#1.6-1.13) provide information about Moulton's time working at Mademoiselle, becoming a freelance writer, and include descriptions of her life in New York City, Henry Moulton, her social engagements and dinner parties, theater and restaurants, and what books she is reading. She also discusses her pregnancies, first with Anne in 1949, followed by Sara in 1952, and parenting. This series also includes family and friends who played a role in Moulton's life, and the correspondence with many of these individuals circles around visits, Moulton's work as a freelance writer, and life events. Correspondents include fellow Radcliffe College alumnae Sara (Sally) Murdock Steinberg (artist, writer, and scholar), Alison Lurie (novelist and scholar), and Dorothy H. Driscoll (academic, activist, and rower who became a quadriplegic in 1975 and won numerous races for disabled rowers); poet Maxine Kumin; Alice Zamore; friend and author best known for the novel Diary of a Mad Housewife, Sue Kaufman; the American music journalist and critic Bill Adler who married Sara Moulton in 1981; writer and social worker Susan K. Boyd; civic activist Kay Bullitt; Los Angeles artist Laura Bruton-Chum; Bette Cohen who, with her husband Bill, was among the original tenants of Peter Cooper Village where the Moultons first lived in New York City; M.F.K. Fisher, who became a close acquaintance of Moulton; artist and friend Dorothy Ruddick; Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith; and writer Claudia Parsons. See also Series II for additional biographical and personal information within Moulton's journals and Series III for additional writings. Arrangement is alphabetical by type: biographical, correspondence, family, and personal.

Series II, JOURNALS, 1935-2013 (#3.1-20.13), contain bound journals and typescripts, as well as travel journals. Moulton's bound journals document her world from when she was a student until the last year of her life. The journals describe her college years at Radcliffe, where she discusses her social activities, her reflections on World War II, and her courtship with Henry Moulton. Beginning in the mid 1940s, she discusses her work at Mademoiselle magazine, her life as a young wife and mother; experiences and thoughts about pregnancy and the births of her children; child rearing; social engagements, including dinner parties, the Cosmopolitan Club, and weddings; her creative life in writing, including techniques, story ideas and insecurities about her work; movies and theater she has seen; and books she has read. She also sometimes expresses frustrations with her life and housework and not finding the time to write. Later journals include more description about social activities, including attending Radcliffe/Harvard reunions, and spending time with children and grandchildren, as well as commenting on the deaths of friends and family members. Throughout, the journals include observations or comments on political or news events of the day. The journals also include descriptions of summers at Laurel Farm (Ashby, Massachusetts) and other trips including throughout New England, and New York City (after the Moultons moved away). Beginning in the 1990s, Moulton includes comments about her work with the Raymond Street writers group. The journal typescripts contain similar content to the bound journals but the pages are also interspersed with copies of letters to family and friends about current events and daily life. While she often describes her travels, she also created a set of specific travel journals describing in more detail her national and international trips. Traveling with Henry, friends, and other family members she often includes sketches and illustrations in the travel journals, as well as itineraries. She writes about sites visited; hotel rooms; transportation; observations, descriptions, and impressions; conversations; books read; notes on the history of sites or places; food and restaurants visited, etc.. Sometimes Moulton's travel occurred through tours or organizations, such as through the professional organization TIAETL (International Academy of Estate and Trust Law) or Elder hostels. In later journals, Henry Moulton often added comments. Series arrangement is chronological by type: journals, journals (typescript), travel journals.

Series III, WRITINGS AND RELATED, 1940s-2014 (#21.1-26.11, E.1-E.21, PD.1), includes mostly typescripts of short stories, articles, poetry, and manuscripts, as well as copies of published pieces, such as articles published in Mademoiselle while Moulton was under the direction of editor George Davis; correspondence with editors, publishers, friends, and literary agents; notes; and research materials. Moulton wrote short pieces of fiction and non-fiction for journals and magazines, as well as novels, including Fatal Demonstrations, which was published in 1980. This series documents her creative process through drafts as well as notes and correspondence containing critiques of her work and efforts to get stories published. Of note is correspondence with Emilie Jacobsen who was the senior vice president of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency, a Radcliffe classmate, and Moulton's friend. Jacobsen was Moulton's literary agent from 1957 until her death in 2010. The correspondence reveals the relationship between agent and author regarding submissions, the challenges of getting published, and critical assessments of writing. Moulton discusses her relationship with Jacobsen in her story, Remembering Emmy (#26.10). Also of interest is Moulton's work with the school volunteer program in New York City where she tutored children at risk in remedial reading, and which inspired the opinion piece she published in The New York Times, as well as other writings (#22.13, 23.1-23.2). A related file (#23.3) describes the "No Name Lunch Club," an organization founded by a group of white women after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in order to meet and socialize with African American women. Moulton was a member for a period of time. Moulton was also a member of the Raymond Street writers group in Cambridge, Massachusetts (#23.20-24.1). This group consisted of women writers who shared their works, critical comments, praise, and support. The files consist of extensive correspondence, critiques, and information on members.

This series also contains electronic Microsoft Word document files which were originally given to the Schlesinger library on a USB drive. The files were imaged using FTK Imager. The dates for the electronic documents reflect the years noted in the electronic files. The titles of these files duplicate some of the titles in the paper records, but the electronic files are often a more complete or a different version of the piece. Versions of the work with the same title have been arranged by date and can be found at different points in the inventory. See also Series I for additional writings. Series III is arranged chronologically.


Author and artist Elizabeth Winthrop (Day) Moulton was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in November 1924. The daughter of playwright Frederick Lansing and Katharine Munroe Day (Radcliffe College, BA, 1914), she had two brothers, Frederick Lansing Day, Jr. (1915-2006) and Gordon Day (1918-2010). She attended Shady Hill School (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Concord Academy (Concord, Massachusetts), and Radcliffe College (BS, 1946). In June 1946, she married Henry H. Moulton (Harvard College, BA, 1946), and moved to New York City where he attended Columbia Law School (LL.B. 1948). Henry Moulton would eventually work for Fiduciary Trust International where he retired as vice chairman of the company in 1989. Elizabeth and Henry Moulton had three children: Anne W. Moulton (Radcliffe class of 1971) who became a doctor; Sara Moulton, a celebrity chef appearing on public television; and Peter Moulton, a judge in the New York State judicial system; and six grandchildren. Through Sara, the Moultons became friends with Julia and Paul Child and Sara had worked for Julia on one of her television programs. The Moultons lived in New York City (1946-1981), including in Peter Cooper Village and then in an apartment on Gramercy Park; Los Angeles (1981-1991), London (1985-1988), and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In June 1945, Moulton worked as a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine and in February 1946 she was offered a position as feature assistant in the fiction and features department, working under the direction of editor George Davis, which included doing interviews with celebrities, such as (then little known) Marlon Brando. In 1949 she left Mademoiselle and became a freelance writer under the name of Betsy Day. Her short stories and articles appeared in Redbook, McCall's, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sewanee Review, Mademoiselle, Flair, American Artist, and Gourmet, among others. Her first novel, Fatal Demonstrations, appeared in 1980, and she had completed five more--all unpublished--by the time of her death. Moulton was also an amateur watercolor painter. Her volunteer activities included the Radcliffe Club of New York, New York Public School Volunteer Program, and at her parish, St. George's Episcopal Church on Stuyvesant Square, New York City, for which she wrote a parish history. During the 1950's, the Moultons were politically active in local democratic politics and grassroots organizing. A few years before Moulton's death, she spotted Seth Moulton, current representative in the United States Congress who is unrelated to Elizabeth Moulton, as a future political star and had him to tea. She declared that some day he would be president of the United States. Moulton died on July 21, 2013.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1934-2014 (#1.1-2.32, F+D.1)
  2. Series II. Journals, 1935-2013 (#3.1-20.13)
  3. Series III. Writings and Related, 1940s-2014 (#21.1-26.11, E.1-E.21, PD.1)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2014-M158

The papers of Elizabeth Moulton were given to the Schlesinger Library in October 2014 by her widower Henry H. Moulton.

Processing Information

Processed: December 2016

By: Laura Peimer, with assistance from Margaret Dalton.

Moulton, Elizabeth. Papers of Elizabeth Moulton, 1934-2014: 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 gifts from the Moulton family.

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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