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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 829

Additional papers of the Alger family, 1809-1993

Correspondence, diary fragment, photographs, brochures, minutes, etc., of Louisa R. Alger, Quaker and mathematics teacher, and the Alger family.

Dates

  • 1809-1993

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Alger family 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.

Extent

4.59 linear feet ((11 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder and 2 photograph folders)

These Alger family Additional papers consist of correspondence, a diary fragment, photographs, brochures, minutes, etc. The bulk of the material are the papers of Louisa R. Alger. A small amount of material consisting of typescript letters, photographs, etc., is related to Rodgers, Meigs, and Alger family members. A published container list had been created in 1984 for Series I and the collection was numbered 84-M45. Additional material (accession numbers 82-M17--2012-M167) was added to the collection in July 2015 and the collection renumbered MC 829. This material is located in Series II (#23-105)

Series I, LOUISA R. ALGER (84-M45), 1919-1982 (#1-22), consists almost entirely of correspondence, the bulk of which is incoming, with fewer draft and other letters that Alger sent to friends, family, and others. The exception to this is a certificate from the Radcliffe Quarterly and several pages of alumn\ae news from the same publication. Several early letters in this series concern Alger's teaching position at Miss Lee's School (See also, Series II for photographs, pamphlets, brochures, etc., documenting the school). Other correspondence in this series documents her work with the Warren Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children and its day camp, American Friends Service Committee, and the Clothing Room of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Society of Friends in its many incarnations. Alger maintained a regular correspondence with several of her nephews and nieces, who shared news of family and friends' births, deaths, and marriages. Correspondence with friends often include commentaries on current national and local political incidents, and there are regular comments about the activities of Richard Nixon during his presidency. The series also includes letters received from former students thanking Alger for her assistance and guidance during their time with her, as well as letters from children who had attended the Warren Day Camp who report on their progress with behavioral issues. There is some overlap in both the chronology and subject content in series I and series II. Folder titles were created by the processor. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series II, LOUISA R. ALGER (82-M17--2012-M167), 1809-1993 (#23-105), includes correspondence, pamphlets, brochures, photographs, a scrapbook, etc. The bulk of this series consists of correspondence, the bulk of which is incoming, with fewer draft and other letters that Alger sent to friends, family, and others. Correspondence in this series documents her work with the Warren Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children and its day camp, American Friends Service Committee, Cambridge Mental Health Association, and the Clothing Room of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Society of Friends in its many incarnations. Alger maintained a regular correspondence with several of her nephews and nieces, who shared news of family and friends' births, deaths, and marriages. Correspondence with friends often include commentaries on current national and local political incidents, and there are regular comments about the activities of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush during their presidencies. Alger also wrote relentlessly to local and national politicians to express her views and contribute to some of their campaigns, and a number of them responded. Local politicians included in the series are Alice Wolf, Al Vellucci, Frank Duehay, and Fran Cooper. National politicians include Barney Frank, Tip O'Neill, Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry, and Patrick Moynihan, among others. The series also includes letters received from former students thanking Alger for her assistance and guidance during their time with her, as well as letters from children who had attended the Warren Day Camp who report on their progress with behavioral issues. Alger maintained a regular correspondence with Elizabeth Cummings Qualey (sister of ee cummings) and her husband Carlton Qualey (an historian specializing in Norwegian-American immigration) until their deaths. Much of her later correspondence describes issues with aging such as maintaining an independent living situation and physical and mental infirmities suffered by Alger and her friends, although Alger remained active well into her 90th year. Also included in the series are several articles written by Alger about mathematics, the work of the American Friends Service Committee, and an autobiographical story for the Radcliffe Quarterly. Other material of interest includes brochures, pamphlets, and lists of students and teachers from Miss Lee's School (formerly Miss Caroll's School), a school for girls in Boston, which seems to have closed at some time in the late 1920s, as well as a 1965 yearbook of the Winsor School, dedicated to Alger, and a group of letters from parents, students, and fellow teachers thanking Alger for all of her work and assistance during her time there. There is some overlap in both the chronology and subject content in series I and series II. Folder titles were created by the processor. The series is arranged alphabetically and therein chronologically.

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

BIOGRAPHY

Louisa Rodgers Alger was born to Louisa Taylor Alger and Philip Rounseville Alger in 1900 in Washington DC, and grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. She enrolled in Radcliffe College and graduated in 1922. While at Radcliffe she made the acquaintance of Radcliffe alumna, Frances Lee, who ran Miss Lee's School (formerly Miss Caroll's School), a school for girls in Boston, Massachusetts. Following Alger's graduation, Lee offered Alger a teaching position at the school and instructed her in teaching techniques. Following the death of a close friend during World War II, Alger became a member of the Society of Friends in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alger left Miss Lee's School to teach mathematics at the Winsor School until her retirement in 1965. Alger began volunteering with the Cambridge Clothing Room of the Cambridge, Massachusetts Society of Friends in 1947, which was started in 1944 to gather, repair, and provide clothing for those affected by war in Europe. During the 1970s the Clothing Room distributed clothing locally to the St. Monica's Home, Cardinal Cushing Hispanic Center, Boston Boys Club, and other organizations, and sent off a portion of the clothing to Philadelphia. In the 1980s they shipped clothing to the Lakota tribe on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Alger eventually would go on to become the Clothing Room's volunteer director. As part of the Society of Friends, Alger was a member of the Mosher Book and Tract Committee which provided funding for publishing and distributing books and tracts promoting the principles of Quaker faith and practice. Currently it is under the auspices of the publications and communications committee of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. She was also active in the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association, acting as its secretary several times and becoming editor of the alumni newsletter, and was an ardent supporter of racial integration and equality, working as a member of the Boston Suburban Council with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Alger served on the board of directors of the Cambridge Mental Health Association and as Vice President of the Warren Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children in Brookline, Massachusetts (now defunct). Alger died in 1995 at the age of 95.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in two series:
  1. Series I. Louisa R. Alger (84-M45), 1919-1982 (#1-22)
  2. Series II. Louisa R. Alger (82-M17--2012-M167), 1809-1993 (#23-105)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 84-M45. Accession numbers 82-M17, 82-M180, 83-M267, 86-M237, 87-M24, 87-M47, 88-M123, 90-M7, 90-M37, 90-M150, 91-M41, 93-M186, 2010-M224, 2012-M167 were added to the collection in July 2015.

These addenda to the Alger family papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Louisa Alger between February 1982 and December 1993, Carlton Qualey in December 1986 and March 1987, and Augusta Alger Prince in December 2010 and September 2012.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Alger family papers, 1809-1969 (A-103), Alger family Additional papers, ca.1850-1980 (1632--80-M189), and Alger family Additional papers, 1809-1984 (84-M102).

CONTAINER LIST

  1. Box 1: Folders 1-18
  2. Box 2: Folders 19-30
  3. Box 3: Folders 31-37
  4. Box 4: Folders 38-44
  5. Box 5: Folders 45-52
  6. Box 6: Folders 53-59
  7. Box 7: Folders 60-66
  8. Box 8: Folders 67-73
  9. Box 9: Folders 74-80
  10. Box 10: Folders 81-93
  11. Box 11: Folders 95-105

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: April 1984

By: Melanie Kuhn

Updated and additional material added: July 2015

By: Mark Vassar with assistance from Dan Bullman
Link to catalog
Title
Alger family. Additional papers of the Alger family, 1809-1993: A Finding Aid
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
EAD ID
sch00083

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

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