Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 345

Papers of Edith Gratia Stedman, 1833-1978 (inclusive), 1913-1978 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, writings, etc., of Edith Gratia Stedman, social worker, college administrator, and writer.


  • 1833-1978
  • Majority of material found within 1913-1978

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 papers created by Edith Gratia Stedman as well as 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.


2.5 linear feet ((6 file boxes) plus 1 oversize folder)

This collection consists of personal and business papers, tapes, and photographs mainly documenting Edith Gratia Stedman's social work overseas and her fundraising activities on behalf of Dorchester Abbey. It includes a study of her work at Radcliffe's Appointment Bureau and her published and unpublished writings. Additional material from the Radcliffe Alumnae Pamphlet Collection was added to #82 in June 2018.

Series I, Personal and Employment, contains photographs, personal correspondence with friends and colleagues, diaries and accounts of her work in France and China, and the source material for a study of the Appointment Bureau under her Directorship during the Depression (1930-1941); this study was carried out by Nancy (Harper) Creshkoff in 1968-1969.

Series II, Dorchester Abbey, contains the records of her fundraising activities on behalf of Dorchester Abbey and her journal and writings about the Abbey. Audiotapes of meetings and interviews with Stedman about the Abbey are shelved as T-98.

Series III, Writings, consists of Stedman's other published and unpublished writings.


Edith Gratia Stedman, social worker and college administrator, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1888, the daughter of George Herbert and Gratia (Holt) Stedman. The family moved to Belmont, Massachusetts, where Stedman attended high school. She was graduated from Radcliffe in 1910 and then worked for Jessie Hodder in the Social Service Department of the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1911, when Hodder was appointed Superintendent of the Framingham Reformatory for Women, Stedman went with her and became Head of the Social Service Department there. She resigned under pressure from her brother and for two years, 1915-1917, ran a candy store in Boston.

In 1917 she and two friends, Margaret Deland and Sylvia Anable, volunteered for service overseas; she served as a canteen worker with the Young Men's Christian Association in France and occupied Germany until 1919. In 1920 she went overseas again, as a medical social worker in the Episcopal Mission of the Diocese of Hankow, under Bishop Logan Roots, in Wu Chang, China. The eruption of civil war there in 1927 forced her to leave. On her return to Boston she was offered a position as executive secretary at the Judge Baker Foundation, the guidance clinic for children.

In 1930, Ada Louise Comstock invited her to head the Appointment Bureau at Radcliffe. Challenged by shrinking job opportunities, Stedman introduced vocational programs to give students training in marketable skills: the summer secretarial course, waitress course, and counseling and camp handicrafts course. She created the Summer Playgroup, which employed students under a professional director, and began the Publishing Procedures Course in 1936 and the Training Course in Personnel Administration in 1937. Stedman served as Director of the Training Course until 1941. Its scope expanded until, in 1962, it merged with the Harvard Business School.

Formal retirement from Radcliffe in 1954 opened a new range of activities for Stedman. In 1955-1959 she volunteered at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Beginning in 1959 she spent six months of every year in England, living with friends at the Manor House, Dorchester, Oxfordshire. She founded the American Friends of Dorchester Abbey, which raised money for the conversion of the Cloister Garden into an Anglo-American Garden, to restore the great Jesse window in the East End, to erect a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill, and to restore the fabric of the Abbey. She created and ran a gift shop in the old monastic guest house, and was instrumental in arranging a Festal Evensong attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1970. In appreciation of her efforts her English friends had her likeness carved on a corbel at Dorchester Abbey, and in 1976 she was awarded an honorary O.B.E.

After retirement, Stedman also had time for writing. Her Dorchester Abbey Journals were copied and circulated among the American Friends. Besides an unpublished autobiography, she wrote numerous works that were published: A Monastery Guest House Cookbook (1965, with nine subsequent editions), A Yankee in an English Village (1972), Anglo/American Double Talk (1972), Finger Prints, and many articles. She also wrote stories, religious pieces, poems, and essays on old age that were not published but that are in this collection. Menieres disease and deafness prevented her from travel at the end of her life and she spent her last years in Sherrill House, an Episcopal nursing home in Boston. She died on July 16, 1978.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. I. Personal and employment
  2. II. Dorchester Abbey
  3. III. Writings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 418, 70-74, 71-12, 71-66, 72-51, 73-4, 75-153, 75-298, 76-349, 78-M127, 79-M89, 80-M162, 80-M180

This collection was given to the Schlesinger Library by Edith Gratia Stedman beginning in March 1962, and after her death by her estate.


  1. Box 1: 6-14
  2. Box 2: 14a-26a
  3. Box 3: 27-40
  4. Box 4: 41-53
  5. Box 5: 54-67
  6. Box 6: 67a-82

Processing Information

Processed: March 1983

By: Jane S. Knowles

Rehoused: April 2017

By: Margaret Dalton

Updated and additional material added: June 2018

By: Anne Engelhart

Stedman, Edith G. (Edith Gratia), 1888-1978. Papers of Edith Gratia Stedman, 1833-1978 (inclusive), 1913-1978 (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.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA