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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 343

Additional records of the Friends of Framingham, 1938-1973


Minutes, committee reports, correspondence, etc., of Friends of the Framingham, Inc., formed in support of Miriam Van Waters and the progressive changes she had implemented as superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women at Framingham.


  • Creation: 1938-1973

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Closed for digitization.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Friends of Framingham as well as 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.


.63 linear feet (1 + 1/2 file boxes)

The collection consists of correspondence, largely to and from LaRue Brown as Chairman of Friends of Framingham and Dorothy Kirchwey Brown; it includes letters to and from Miriam Van Waters. There are also Executive Board minutes, publications, articles, and clippings about Miriam Van Waters, Friends of Framingham, women at Framingham, and prison conditions in general. The records cover a thirty five year period.

Correspondence (#3-11) includes letters to and from LaRue Brown, Dorothy Kirchwey Brown and Miriam Van Waters; memos of Dorothy Kirchwey Brown, drafts of letters, and publications of Friends of Framingham (reports, dinner programs, announcements, fund-raising letters, invitations, leaflets, treasurer's reports).


The Friends of Framingham, Inc. was formed in 1948 in support of Miriam Van Waters and the progressive methods she had implemented as Superintendent of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Framingham, with emphasis on rehabilitation of women prisoners rather than on punishment.

Miriam Van Waters had served with distinction and to the satisfaction of six Commissioners of Corrections from 1932 to 1948. Eliot McDowell became Commissioner in February 1948; Miriam Van Waters was summarily fired in January 1949. McDowell's deputy, Frank A. Dwyer, was permitted to make an "investigation." Governor Paul Dever then appointed an impartial commission composed of Erwin Griswold, Dean of Harvard Law School, Mrs. Roger Lowell Putnam of Springfield, and Robert G. Clark, Jr., Assistant District Attorney of Norfolk County. The Commission completely vindicated Miriam Van Waters of the 27 charges against her and she was restored to her position in March 1949. McDowell and Dwyer remained in office, however; their efforts to harass and discredit Miriam Van Waters continued.

The small group of citizens that rallied behind Miriam Van Waters in the summer of 1948 grew into an organization called "Friends of Framingham, Inc." Its purposes included the development of modern and scientific methods of treatment and rehabilitation of individuals committed to correctional institutions in Massachusetts; the promotion of public education in the techniques, purposes and potentialities of modern penology; helping to improve practices in the work of government agencies concerned with those accused or convicted of crimes.

The original focus of the organization was modified over the years. In 1964, the group established a Friends of Framingham Half-Way House for former Framingham prisoners. Barbara Johnson is currently secretary of "The Friendly Visitors," an outgrowth of Friends of Framingham. The population at the Reformatory now includes women and men.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 70-29, 74-15, 78-M91

These papers were originally part of the Miriam Van Waters and Dorothy Kirchwey Brown collections in the Schlesinger Library.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Friends of Framingham, Inc. Records (B-18).


  1. Box 1: 1: 1-17
  2. Box 2: 2: 18-22

Processing Information

Processed: August 1982

By: Deborah Tucker

Friends of Framingham, Inc. Additional records of the Friends of Framingham, 1938-1973: 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.

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