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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 697

Papers of Ann Fraser Brewer, ca.1861-2012 (inclusive), 1917-1945 (bulk)


Correspondence, scrapbooks, writings, diaries, and photographs, etc., documenting the lives of Ann Fraser Brewer; her husband, George Emerson Brewer, Jr., a playwright; and his parents, New York surgeon George Emerson Brewer, Sr., and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer.


  • Creation: 1861-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1917-1945


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted, except #19FB.1 is closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ann Fraser Brewer 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.


9.72 linear feet ((21 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 14 photograph folders)

The collection contains correspondence, writings, scrapbooks, diaries, and photographs documenting the lives of Ann Fraser Brewer, her husband, George Emerson Brewer, Jr., and his parents, George Emerson Brewer, Sr. and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer, as well as some members of the extended family. Most of the material arrived at the library unfolded, and many letters were grouped by recipient and year and tied into bundles. Some materials were housed in labeled envelopes; those titles have been retained and appear in quotation marks. Most folder titles were created by the processor.

Additional material received in 2012 (2012-M97) was added to the collection in March 2019. These materials are housed in #18.3-21.9. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.

Series I, GEORGE EMERSON BREWER, SR. AND EFFIE LEIGHTON BROWN BREWER, 1871-2012, n.d. (#1.1-4.5, PD.1, 19FB.1), includes correspondence, notes, writings, reports, and photographs documenting their lives. The bulk of the material is related to the career of George Emerson Brewer, a prominent New York City surgeon who also headed field hospitals in France during World War I. The series is divided into two subseries. There is some overlap between Series I and Series II; letters among George Emerson Brewer, Sr., and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer, and their son, George Emerson Brewer, Jr. and his wife Ann Fraser Brewer can be found in both Series I and Series II.

Subseries A., George Emerson Brewer, Sr., 1871-2012, n.d. (#1.1-3.3, PD.1, 19FB.1), contains correspondence, notes, and autobiographical writings related to his work and personal life. Brewer writes about his childhood, college years, and early years practicing as a doctor. A scrapbook assembled by nurse Beatrice MacDonald, which contains documents, letters, clippings and photographs pertaining to her service in France during World War I (1915, 1917-1918) at hospitals headed by Dr. Brewer, is included in this subseries. The scrapbook also documents the numerous citations she received, including the Distinguished Service Cross, and contains an essay in which she describes her experiences in France. Photographs in the scrapbook include George Emerson Brewer, Sr., and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer (who worked as a nurse's aide in France during Dr. Brewer and MacDonald's first assignment in 1915). Due to fragility, the scrapbook has been digitized and the original is closed. Some correspondence between Brewer and patients and colleagues, and with Endicott Peabody, his son's headmaster at the Groton School, is included in this subseries. Most correspondence pertains to the murder of Brewer's friend Dr. James Markoe; Brewer had created a scrapbook containing these letters and clippings about the event. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Effie Leighton Brown Brewer, 1880-1923, n.d. (#3.4-4.5), contains mostly poems, both original and by others, and correspondence. Letters from husband George Emerson Brewer, Sr., describe his work in French hospitals during World War I (1917-1918). Brewer describes his patients and interactions with his son Leighton, also serving in France, and writes of the bombing which injured nurse and family friend Beatrice "Mac" MacDonald. Included are letters from her son George Emerson Brewer, Jr., while away at the Fay School and Groton School; the letters concern school life and studies, and his desire to enlist in the army during World War I. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series II, ANN FRASER BREWER, 1889-1991, n.d. (#4.6v-14.11, 18.3-21.6, PD.2-PD.6), contains correspondence, scrapbooks, notes, poems, etc. related to Ann Fraser Brewer and her children. The series is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A., Biographical and personal, 1889-1991, n.d. (#4.6v-6.2, 18.3-20.7, PD.2-PD.5), includes scrapbooks, travel diaries, notes, letters, poems, certificates and school report cards for Brewer and her children. There is a scrapbook compiled by Brewer's aunt Myra Rodes Tutt (Jane G. Fraser's sister), as well as an autograph album kept by Brewer featuring signatures and some letters from famous people. In addition, Brewer assembled a scrapbook of photographs and printed material from three summers at Pinelands Camp in New Hampshire. Also included is a book of family history and genealogy assembled by family after Brewer's death. There is some overlap between this subseries and Subseries B, Correspondence, as there are letters to Brewer and others included in the Myra Tutt scrapbook, Brewer's autograph album, and Brewer's folio of clippings. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1909-1987, n.d. (#6.3-14.11, 20.8-21.6, PD.6), contains correspondence with Brewer's parents, George and Jane G. Fraser, her husband, George Emerson Brewer, Jr., and her children. In particular, Brewer's letters to mother Jane Fraser describe student life at Bryn Mawr College and European travel, setting up house and early married life, motherhood, and social obligations. Jane Fraser's letters to her daughter detail her travels in Egypt, Brewer's father George Fraser's health, and family news. George Emerson Brewer's letters to Ann Fraser Brewer in the early 1920's document their courtship; he also describes his playwriting and travels. Letters sent during World War II describe travels in Europe and living in Stockholm, news from family and friends from letters received, and his love for Ann and their family. As he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, there is little mention of Brewer's actual duties. Letters from Ann Fraser Brewer's children describe their school work and social lives. Michael Fraser describes life at the Groton School and Ann Fraser attended Vassar College. Most of Brewer's correspondence with family and friends relates to her engagement to George Emerson Brewer, Jr., the death of her mother Jane Fraser, and the death of George Emerson Brewer, Jr. (1968). The subseries is arranged alphabetically by the letter recipient.

Series III, GEORGE EMERSON BREWER, JR., 1895-1968, n.d. (#14.12-18.2, 21.7-21.9, PD.7-PD.8), includes material related to Brewer's writing career and military service, and correspondence with family and friends. There is some overlap between the two subseries; correspondence related to Brewer's writing and military service is in listed in Subseries A, and obituary information can be found in Subseries B.

Subseries A., Biographical, personal, and professional, 1895-1945, n.d. (#14.12-15.9), contains biographical information, including contracts and certificates, clippings regarding Brewer's boxing matches at Yale University, and commissions for the New York Guard and the United States Army. It also includes writings, reviews and correspondence regarding two plays, "Dark Victory" and "Tide Rising," and a travel diary.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1909-1968, n.d. (#15.10-18.2, 21.7-21.9, PD.7-PD.8), contains chiefly correspondence with wife Ann Fraser Brewer and with their children. Ann Fraser Brewer's letters to George Emerson Brewer, Jr., in the early 1920's describe her travels around Europe while in college, student life and studies at Bryn Mawr College, and their courtship and wedding plans. Letters written during Brewer's service during World War II discuss their children; she writes about her search for proper school for their son George Fraser Brewer, who had Down Syndrome, the wedding of their daughter Effie Brewer, travels and holidays, and her longing for his return. Letters from Brewer's children, particularly Ann and Michael Brewer, describe their studies and student life at Groton School and Vassar College. Also included is correspondence with his parents, George Emerson Brewer Sr., and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer, and his brother, Leighton Brewer. Some of this correspondence is from World War I, when Brewer's father and brother served in France. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by the recipient of letter.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1861-1947, n.d. (#PD.9-PD.14), contains portraits of George Emerson Sr., as a baby, and George Emerson Brewer, Jr. and his brother Leighton as young children. Also included are portraits of George Emerson Brewer, Sr. and Leighton Brewer in their military uniforms during World War I. Snapshots from World War I include Leighton Brewer's airplane and Effie Leighton Brewer Brown with other nurses in 1915. For more snapshots including the Brewers, see the Beatrice MacDonald scrapbook (#19FB.1). There is one formal portrait of Ann Fraser Brewer, as well a less formal one of Ann with George Emerson Brewer, Jr. There are also two snapshots of a group of four children, probably Effie, Ann, Michael, and George Brewer.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Ann (Fraser) Brewer was the daughter of Jane Gardiner and George C. Fraser, a lawyer practicing in New York City. She attended the Brearley School and Bryn Mawr College (1923) and trained as a geologist, but gave up her hopes for a career when she married George E. Brewer, Jr., in 1923. They had four children: Effie, Ann, Michael, and George Fraser. Brewer was active in social work; her son, George Fraser, had Down Syndrome, and she worked with children and adults who had this condition. She was chairman of the Advisory Council of the New York School of Social Work at Columbia University, and served on the boards of St. Faith's Home, a home for unwed mothers in Tarrytown, New York, and Camphill Village, a community of people with developmental disabilities, in Copake, New York. In 1990, she moved to Collington, a retirement community near Washington, DC. Brewer died at her cabin in Newcomb, New York, on October 15, 2000.

Ann Fraser Brewer's husband, George E. Brewer, Jr. ("Buddy"), attended Groton School and Yale College (1922). He was a playwright and co-wrote the play "Dark Victory," which was produced on Broadway in 1934 and made into a film in 1939. His play "Tide Rising" was also produced on Broadway in 1936. During World War II, Brewer served in the Army Air Forces as a lieutenant colonel, heading an Office of Strategic Services mission to Sweden from 1943 to 1945. In later years he wrote about the environment, and in 1948 founded the Conservation Foundation. George E. Brewer, Jr., died in 1968.

George E. Brewer, Jr., was the son of George Emerson Brewer, a prominent New York City surgeon, and Effie Leighton Brown ("Brownie"). He was one of two children; his brother, Leighton Brewer ("Laddie") served in the Army during World War I and World War II and was a writer and teacher. George Emerson Brewer attended Hamilton College (1881) and received his medical degree from Harvard University (1885). He was attending surgeon at Roosevelt and Presbyterian hospitals in New York City, founded the Society of Clinical Surgery, and was president of the American Surgical Association. Brewer taught at Columbia University and was the author of a classic textbook published in 1903. He served in France during World War I, accompanied by his office nurse, Beatrice MacDonald. MacDonald was wounded during an air raid and lost an eye, but returned to service until the end of the war. She was commended for her work by the British and French governments, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. MacDonald died in 1969 and was buried in Long Island National Cemetery (a note in MacDonald's scrapbook, contained in this collection, maintains that she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery). In 1920 Brewer helped apprehend a man who shot and killed his friend Dr. James Markoe during services at St. George's Episcopal Church in New York City, becoming wounded in the process. Effie Leighton Brown Brewer died in Bermuda in 1925, and George Emerson Brewer died in New York City in 1939. Some papers of George Emerson Brewer can be found at Columbia University: see George Emerson Brewer Scrapbook (1903, 1913-1923), Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library; and George Emerson Brewer notes on surgical lectures (ca. 1900), Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. George Emerson Brewer, Sr., and Effie Leighton Brown Brewer, 1871-2012, n.d. (#1.1-4.5, PD.1, 19FB.1)
  2. Series II. Ann Fraser Brewer, 1889-1991, n.d. (#4.6v-14.11, 18.3-21.6, PD.2-PD.6)
  3. Series III. George Emerson Brewer, Jr., 1895-1968, n.d. (#14.12-18.2, 21.7-21.9, PD.7-PD.8)
  4. Series IV. Photographs, ca.1861-1947, n.d. (#PD.9-PD.14)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2000-M196, 2013-M26

Accession number 2012-M97 was added in 2019.

The papers of Ann Fraser Brewer were given to the Schlesinger Library by her daughter, Effie B. Kimball, in 2001, granddaughter Marion Knox in 2012, and Myrna Babineau in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed: April 2012

By: Paula Aloisio, with assistance from Samuel Bauer.

Updated and additional materials added: March 2019

By: Paula Aloisio

Brewer, Ann Fraser, 1901-2000. Papers of Ann Fraser Brewer, ca.1861-2012 (inclusive), 1917-1945 (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 a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957 and the Gerard Schlesinger Library 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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