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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 776: T-423: Vt-218

Papers of Maurine Rothschild, 1906-2005 (inclusive), 1952-2003 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, writings, photographs, and oral history of Maurine Rothschild, philanthropist, art collector, and women's rights advocate.


  • Creation: 1906-2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1952-2003

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Maurine Rothschild 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.


15.01 linear feet ((36 file boxes) plus 14 photograph folders, 6 slides, 6 audiotapes, 17 videotapes, 2 objects.)
.6 Megabytes (1 file)

This collection documents the personal and professional life of philanthropist, art collector, and women's rights advocate Maurine Rothschild. The papers include writings, correspondence, reports, photographs, and Rothschild's oral history recorded for the Schlesinger Library. The collection also contains her daily intimate diaries written during the 1970s and 1980s, as well as her travel diaries which reflect the many trips around the world taken by the Rothschilds. Rothschild's correspondence is full of letters expressing gratitude from her friends and colleagues for invitations to parties at the Rothschild homes in New York City and Islesboro, Maine, gifts given by the Rothschilds, and trips on their yacht, the Amistad. Correspondents include notable people, politicians, celebrities, and members of the Bhutan royal family. Maurine Rothschild's philanthropy, much of which combined her passion for art collecting with donations, loans and exchanges of art with museums around the world, is emphasized through her monetary contributions to many different organizations. Maurine Rothschild was a Radcliffe alumna, trustee, and donor; the collection documents her student life and later involvement with Radcliffe College and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Also included are several short stories written by Rothschild. Topics include the farm in New Zealand, Rothschild's childhood, and mothers returning to the workforce. Rothschild's original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivist. Material from the Radcliffe Alumnae Pamphlet collection was added to #31.4 in June 2018. Electronic records were received on one 3.5" disk. The disk was imaged using FTK Imager and Duke Data Accessioner. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1916, 1924-2004, n.d. (#1.1-5.6), includes short stories and other writings, curricula vitae, lesson plans, correspondence, reports, and articles of Maurine Rothschild. In 1995 the Rothschilds traveled to Alaska with their grandson Oliver to retrace Louis Pupkin's map to his camp and gold mine (#1.2). Documents from Louis Pupkin's life in Alaska and the family's millinery store in Warren, Ohio, are also found within this series, including stock certificates, ledgers, and maps (#1.9). Rothschild's career as a teacher is documented with lesson plans, memoranda, and letters of recommendation (#2.7-4.3). Short stories written by Rothschild include slightly autobiographical as well as fictional topics. One untitled manuscript encompasses the questions Rothschild imagines were asked by some middle aged women: "What Price Security?" "Is There Sex After _?" "What Makes a Good Life? (#5.3)" Other short stories include "The Summer Solstice," about a married woman having a summer affair (#5.5), and several about sailing trips taken on the Rothschild's yacht Amistad (#5.6). Also included are Rothschild's letters to the editor of various newspapers (#5.2), and articles she wrote for the New Zealand women's magazine Eve titled "Letters from New York." The articles were written as letters, and contained personal chatty news of life in New York: the weather, the theater, trips the Rothschilds had taken, fashion news, etc. (#4.11-5.1). This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, RADCLIFFE COLLEGE, 1936-2005 (#5.7-7.14), includes correspondence, student transcripts, memoranda, reports, programs, oral history transcripts, and other Radcliffe material of Maurine Rothschild. Correspondence includes topics such as her generosity to Radcliffe College (#5.11), and later the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (#5.12), "Radcliffe in Maine" picnics hosted at Greyledge (6.5), and the Radcliffe Intellectual Renewal Series (#6.2). Also included are student papers from various classes, such as English, fine arts, and government, which contain grades and professors' comments; and her senior thesis, "The Extent of German Penetration into Mexico." Rothschild served as a trustee for Radcliffe College from 1979-1987 (#7.13), was chair of the Radcliffe College class of 1940's 35th reunion (#7.1), and was also on the advisory committee for the Bunting Institute of Independent Study (#5.7). In 1977 Rothschild interviewed Frances Grant, a fellow Radcliffe alumna and Fieldston teacher, for the Schlesinger Library's Black Women Oral History Project, and subsequently began a biography of Grant that was never published (#7.6). In 1989 Maurine and Robert Rothschild funded the annual Rothschild Lecture for the Schlesinger Library in order to bring female scholars and lecturers to Cambridge. In 2002 Rothschild recorded her own oral history for the Schlesinger Library with Sarah Hodder, in which Rothschild describes her childhood, being accepted into Radcliffe, her student experiences, family issues, and her extraordinary life (#7.5). This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series III, DIARIES, 1971-2004 (#8.1-25.1, E.1), includes Rothschild's diaries, travel diaries, appointment books, and reading logs. Diary entries are long, intimate accounts and narratives of her personal life. Many contain a reading log on the last page. Rothschild wrote about her health issues, the weather, politics and daily events, committee meetings, trips around the world, yachting, friends and family, marriage, and her bout with breast cancer. One diary is partly dedicated to her mastectomy and breast reconstruction (#14.4). Travel diaries document the Rothschild's extensive journeys around the world. Some of the travel diaries have been transcribed and include photographs: Alaska (#22.1), South Africa (#23.2), Nairobi (#21.4), New Zealand (#13.2), Antarctica and the Falkland islands (#19.6), Spain (#13.4), Greece (#15.2), Israel and Egypt (#15.6), and India, Nepal, and Bhutan (#17.5-17.6). Appointment books include notations for dinner and drinks, board and committee meetings, trips, theater performances, and medical appointments. See also Series IV for letters regarding various trips. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV, CORRESPONDENCE, 1906, 1940-2004, n.d. (#25.2-33.10), includes correspondence with friends, family, colleagues, and others. Rothschild lived a life of privilege and luxury, and was exceedingly generous. Her correspondence is full of gratitude from her friends and colleagues for invitations to parties, to the Rothschild home in New York and Islesboro, Maine, gifts given by the Rothschilds, and trips on their yacht Amistad. Thank you notes from Rothschild's employee, Vivian Robinson, are scattered throughout the series and highlight the thoughtfulness of Maurine Rothschild. Also found within the series are letters from Robert Rothschild's parents Herbert and Nannette Rothschild (#30.9), and Maurine and Robert's children and their spouses: Katherine and Anthony Jackson (#28.4) and Peter and Ann Rothschild (#31.2). When Robert or Maurine Rothschild occasionally traveled without each they would write personal, loving letters to the other (#31.3). The Rothschilds knew many notable public figures and received letters and cards from Islesboro neighbors John Travolta and Kelly Preston (#33.4), Maine politicians including Olympia Snowe (#26.4, 30.4) and George Mitchell (#26.4, 29.4), other politicians such as Teddy Kollek (#25.2, 27.5, 31.18) and Adlai Stevenson (#31.5), and Kesang Wangchuck, the Queen Mother of Bhutan (#31.11, 33.7). Her correspondence details the building and maintenance of their yacht Amistad (#25.3-25.4). Also documented are the trips around the world taken by the Rothschilds, including to India (#31.17), Russia (#32.5-33.1), Latvia (#32.3), Bhutan (#31.11), France (#31.15), England (#31.14), and East Africa (#31.7). See also Series III for travel diaries from these trips. In 1990 the Rothschilds traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, to visit Maurine's childhood home. A reporter followed them for part of the trip, and subsequently published an article on the Rothschilds's visit. As a result, Rothschild reconnected with several childhood friends (#32.4). Also included are notes and letters of condolence to the Rothschild family after Maurine's death in 2004 (#28.6-28.9). This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series V, ORGANIZATIONS, 1953-2002 (#33.11-36.10), includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, speeches, and other material related to the various organizations for which Maurine Rothschild volunteered. In the late 1960s Rothschild became involved with the Fund for Peace, an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights, individual liberty, and conflict resolution. In 1993 she traveled to Eritrea to speak at "Women's Rights as Human Rights," a Fund for Peace conference, where she met Jessica Neuwirth, Executive Director of Equality Now. After the Eritrean conference Rothschild joined the executive committee of Equality Now, a women's rights action network. Rothschild traveled to South Africa five times between 1993 and 2000 for the Fund for Peace and Equality Now and, as a result, was presented with the Inkanyezi Award from South Africa's University of Durban-Westville in 2001 for her work on women's rights. This series contains the reports written by Rothschild after conferences in Eritrea, Nairobi, and Somalia. Rothschild also served on the national advisory committee for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, which was founded as a think tank for intellectual discussion and research on problems in American society. In 1977 the Center assembled a board of review, which was called the William O. Douglas Inquiry into the State of Individual Freedom, for the purpose of monitoring personal rights in the tradition of the former Justice. Rothschild served on the steering committee for the board of review. In 1983 Maurine Rothschild was nominated to serve on the Percent for Art Panel, which provided works of art for new public buildings, and operated under the umbrella of the Maine State Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She also served on the Maine Arts Commission from 1983 to 1989, and from 1986 to 1989 was president of both the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the Islesboro Historical Society. Rothschild was also a trustee for the College of the Atlantic, Mount Desert Island, Maine from 1984 until her death in 2004. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOVISUAL, 1961-2003, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.14, T-423.1-T-423.6, Vt-218.1-Vt-218.17), includes photographs, audiocassettes, and videotapes. The photographs are of Maurine Rothschild, Robert Rothschild, their children Katherine and Peter, and other members of the Rothschild family. The audiocassettes are of Rothschild's oral history for the Schlesinger Library, which was recorded in 2003 by Sarah Hodder. Many videotapes were recorded by Robert Rothschild during trips taken with Maurine Rothschild. These trips include visits to the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, and the Soviet Union. The videos also feature several interviews of the Rothschilds discussing various loans of artwork to the University of Southern Maine, and artwork exchanges with the Soviet Union and Latvia. Also included is footage from a trip to Maurine Rothschild's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. The Rothschilds visit her childhood synagogue, grammar school, and the house her parents built in the 1920s. Two videotapes show Islesboro Historical Society fund raisers. One, "A Century of Fashion 1890-1990," features residents of Islesboro modeling clothing from the Victorian period to the present. The second, "Cabaret: Let's Dance," contains singing and dancing from the residents of Islesboro, Maine. This series is arranged by format, then alphabetically.

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


Maurine Pupkin Rothschild was born on May 11, 1919, to Louis and Anna (Soltz) Pupkin in Youngstown, Ohio. Louis Pupkin, who immigrated to the United States from Gdańsk, Poland, as a young boy, moved to Alaska in 1885 at the age of 14; eventually he became a gold miner and a railroad engineer. Anna Pupkin, who was born in Lithuania and came to the United States as a child, ran the New York Millinery Company in Warren, Ohio, while Louis was away in Alaska. When he came home from Alaska for the final time in 1916, the Pupkins managed the store together. In 1926 they changed the name to Pupkin's Incorporated and opened a few smaller satellite stores in nearby towns. As a result of the stock market crash in 1929, however, they closed the smaller locations and eventually sold the original store in 1937.

After graduating in 1936 from Rayen High School in Youngstown, Ohio, Maurine Rothschild attended Radcliffe College (A.B. 1940), majoring in history and government. She married Robert F. Rothschild in 1941; they had two children, Dr. Katherine Jackson (born 1943) and Peter Rothschild (born 1946). During World War II, the Rothschilds moved to Hempstead, New York, while Robert Rothschild worked for the Sperry Gyroscope Company, which was based in Garden City, Long Island. After the war ended, they moved to the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, so that Katherine and Peter could attend the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, which Robert Rothschild had also attended. While her children were small Maurine Rothschild was primarily occupied with being a wife and mother, although in 1953 she became president of the Riverdale League of Women Voters. In 1954 Maurine Rothschild joined the board of examiners of the school crossing guard bureau for the New York City Police Department. Robert Rothschild became president of his family's furniture company, the John Stuart, Incorporated - John Widdicomb Company. John Stuart, Incorporated began importing Scandinavian furniture in the 1950s; it was one of the first American furniture companies to do so. The John Widdicomb Company sold European and American antique furniture. In 1962 the Rothschilds bought the former O'Brien farm on Waiheke Island, New Zealand, which has since become the Whakanewha Regional Park. In 1965, while sailing their yacht, the Amistad, off the coast of Maine, the Rothschilds found Greyledge, a shingle-style house built in 1901, on the island of Islesboro. They subsequently bought the house and spent most of their summers here. Later in life, Maurine and Robert traveled between Maine and New York several times a year.

In 1955 Maurine Rothschild became City Affairs Director at the League of Women Voters of New York City, for which she conducted seminars and workshops on New York City government for high school students and adults. In 1960 Rothschild became Director of the League of Women Voters of the State of New York, where she coordinated the work of 80 local leagues throughout New York State, and conducted workshops in New York history and government. In 1962 Rothschild became associate editor of the Foreign Policy Association's Intercom magazine, covering United Nations meetings and reviewing new publications in the field of government and foreign affairs. In 1963 Rothschild graduated from the Teachers College at Columbia University (M.A. 1963), and she taught fourth grade at the Halsted School, Yonkers, New York. From 1966 to 1972 Rothschild taught history at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, New York. After she left Fieldston, Maurine Rothschild worked for several years as a buyer for the Rothschild's John Stuart, Incorporated - John Widdicomb Company furniture group, which included frequent buying trips to Europe for art and antiques. In 1978 Rothschild was diagnosed with breast cancer, and consequently underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 1979.

Rothschild served as a trustee of the Northeast Health Foundation, as president of the Islesboro Historical Society in Maine, as a trustee for Radcliffe College and the College of the Atlantic, and as an executive committee member of the Center for International Policy. Rothschild also served as a lifetime trustee and a member of the executive committee for the Fund for Peace, an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights, individual liberty, and conflict resolution. She attended a 1993 conference in Asmara, Eritrea, entitled "Women's Rights as Human Rights," as well as a subsequent meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1995. One goal of these conferences was to train African women leaders in the principles and organization of democratic institutions. In 1996 Rothschild was invited to a meeting of women in Israel convened by Shatil, of the New Israel Fund. In 2000 Rothschild returned to Nairobi to witness the opening of the Africa regional office of Equality Now, an organization working for the civil, political, economic, and social rights of women. In 2001 the University of Durban-Westville (now called the University of KwaZulu-Natal) presented Rothschild with the Inkanyezi Award for her commitment and work on behalf of women around the world.

Maurine and Robert Rothschild's personal art collection began in 1940 when Robert gave Maurine an etching by Picasso as a graduation present. As they traveled around the world they visited galleries and artists, and the collection grew. Their collection included European and American masters, as well as Japanese, Russian, pre-Columbian, and African art. The Rothschilds often loaned works of art to museums for special showings, and organized artwork exchanges between museums in the United States and other countries.

Maurine Rothschild died on February 20, 2004, from complications of hepatitis.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1916, 1924-2004, n.d. (#1.1-5.6)
  2. Series II. Radcliffe College, 1936-2005 (#5.7-7.14, Mem.1-Mem.2 )
  3. Series III. Diaries, 1971-2004 (#8.1-25.1, E.1)
  4. Series IV. Correspondence, 1906, 1940-2004, n.d. (#25.2-33.10)
  5. Series V. Organizations, 1953-2002 (#33.11-36.10)
  6. Series VI. Photographs and audiovisual, 1961-2003, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.14, T-423.1-T-423.6, Vt-218.1-Vt-218.17)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2001-M12; 2001-M74; 2004-M111; 2005-M69; 2005-M89; 2007-M154

The papers of Maurine Rothschild were given to the Schlesinger Library by Maurine Rothschild in 2001, and by her husband, Robert Rothschild, between 2004 and 2007.


Donors: Maurine and Robert Rothschild

Accession numbers: 2001-M12; 2001-M74; 2004-M111; 2005-M69; 2005-M89; 2007-M154

Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook

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

  1. League of Women Voters of New York State, New York State Voter newsletter, 1961-1962.
  2. Women's City Club Agenda newsletter, 1976-1987, 1985, 1994

Processing Information

Processed: March 2014

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Emily Underwood.

Updated and additional material added: June 2018

By: Anne Engelhart

Rothschild, Maurine. Papers of Maurine Rothschild, 1906-2005 (inclusive), 1952-2003 (bulk): 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 Robert and Maurine Rothschild Fund, the Jane Rainie Opel Fund, and the Zetlin Sisters Fund.

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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