Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections

M. Carey Thomas Papers - The Microfilm Edition

The Microfilm Edition of the Papers         |         Editorial Procedures

Microfilm Edition of The Papers of M. Carey Thomas in the Bryn Mawr College Archives

Microform publication of a large and complex collection of historical manuscripts is a challenging venture. Still a relatively new means of making primary materials widely and expeditiously available to the scholarly world, it partakes of the methods and problems of both the curator of manuscript records and the editor of printed documentary collections. It is complicated, moreover, by its utilization of the constantly developing technology of microphotography. The editor of such a publication is, therefore, highly dependent upon expert advice and reliable support from diverse sources.

The microfilm publication of the M. Carey Thomas Collection at Bryn Mawr College had been a co-operative undertaking of a federal commission, a private institution, and a commercial publishing house. Each deserves, and has, my sincere thanks for its contributions to my work on this editorial project.

A grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission has made the Thomas Papers microfilm possible by underwriting substantial support costs. In addition, the staff of the Commission, notably Fred Shelley, Frank Burke, Roger Bruns, and George Vogt, have contributed to the project in innumerable ways from its inception to its completion. Through the catholicity of their recommendations of documentary publications for sponsorship, through the technical microform standards which they have been instrumental in codifying, and through the evolution of editorial procedures under their aegis, they and the Commission as a whole have shaped the field in which I work and the product of my labor. I owe to each of them a full measure of professional and personal gratitude.

Bryn Mawr College’s contributions to the publication have been fundamental, wholehearted and indispensible. Having in its possession a collection of documents relevant, not only to its own institutional history, but to the history of women and of higher education in general, it chose to make them available without restriction on the widest possible scale through microfilm publication. The College’s commitment was manifested in the quality of direction it provided for the publication. To serve as Project Director, a committee was chosen from the administration, the faculty, and the library: Harris Wofford, President of the College until 1978; Mary Patterson McPherson, Dean and later President; Mary Maples Dunn, Arthur Dudden, Elizabeth Foster, Professors of History; James Tanis, Director of the Library, Gertrude Reed, Head of the Reference Department and College Archivist, and Leo Dolenski, Manuscripts Librarian.

The Committee, corporately and individually motivated by a devotion to excellence in scholarship and equality of intellectual opportunity, shared with the editor responsibility for policy making, while at the same time providing a sustaining source of encouragement and sound advice. Leo Dolenski edited the copy of the Guide.

In ways too numerous to list, members of the faculty and of the administrative, library, and support staffs of the College have assisted the editor with the benefits of their special skills and knowledge and their friendly concern. I am grateful to both the Thomas Papers Committee and the college community for joining with me as co-workers in this undertaking.

Clerical and support work for the project was supplied by a roster of highly qualified and personable student assistants: Barbara Barletta, Sara D. Baughman, Sara J. Lehrman, Harriet L. Lightman, Monique F. Loh, Cynthia L. Sadler, Anastasia Song, and Martha L. Walker. Each performed with intelligence and proficiency tasks of typing, filing, and processing. Each has earned the sincere and enduring gratitude of the editor whose work they shared and whose days they brightened.

The work of three other assistants was of a specialized nature. Susan Hersker Rubinstein filed most of the correspondence in the personal papers, bringing to the task a talent for identifying handwriting, coping with baffling nicknames, and supplying dates based upon genealogical and biographical clues. Melissa A. Young prepared for the photographer the letterbooks of Isabel Maddison, professionally providing for an entire subseries of the publication all editorial apparatus, including targets and reel notes. Carol A. Moon was responsible for the development of the index in all of its stages: without her perseverance, skills of organization, and exactitude, there would not be an index to Thomas’s correspondence.

The project was further aided in the creation of the index by Jay M. Anderson, Director of the Bryn Mawr College Computer Center, whose generous contributions of time and expertise went well beyond any reasonable call of duty, and by student and staff computer operators. It is not possible to repay this valued assistant by a mere expression of appreciation.

Research Publications, Inc. (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of Gale) collaborated in the micropublication of the Thomas Collection by providing all photographic and processing services along with marketing and distribution of the film. In three years of co-operative effort, RPI’s commitment to technical excellence and innovative approach to solving problems in the field of microphotography have been always apparent. These qualities have been exhibited at the personal level by both editorial and technical staffs.

This Guide is intended to serve as an introduction to the microfilm publication of the Thomas Papers. No scholar will make the mistake of considering it infallible and inclusive or of limiting his examination of the Thomas Collection to subjects highlighted in the reel notes and correspondence cited in the index. It is my hope that it may, within the limits of its format, prove useful to those researchers who will seek in this great collection new evidence in their fields of specialty and documentation of their hypotheses.

Lucy Fisher West

Editorial Procedures

This microfilm publication is limited to the collection of M. Carey Thomas’s personal and official papers in the Bryn Mawr College Archives, supplemented by two series of lesser, related materials from the college’s holdings. No extensive search in other repositories or private collections for M. Carey Thomas papers was undertaken in conjunction with this project. However, Dr. Caroline Bedell Thomas kindly made available to us copies of letters exchanged between her husband, Henry M. Thomas, Jr. and Carey Thomas, and these have been incorporated into the personal papers. Likewise typescript copies of Thomas’s letters from the personal collection of Barbara Strachey Halpern, which she generously provided, have been included. Copies of Thomas items in the papers of her successor, Marion E. Park, and small lots of letters given to the college archives by Helen Taft Manning and Arthur L. Wheeler’s heirs have been merged with the Thomas papers.

The microfilm of Bryn Mawr College’s collection of M. Carey Thomas’s materials is comprehensive, including all of her personal papers and presidential records in the college’s possession with the following exceptions:

1. Detached envelopes, carbon copies and other exact duplicates, and file folders, which are regarded as too routine to warrant microfilming.

2. Published materials protected by copyright for which the college has not secured a release and unpublished materials for which the college has specifically requested and been denied release of literary property rights.

3. Items of Mary Garrett’s family papers which have no bearing on any of the following: M. Carey Thomas; Bryn Mawr College; Miss Garrett’s and Miss Thomas’s mutual women friends; M. Carey Thomas’s family; projects on which the two women worked together such as the Bryn Mawr School and the John Hopkins University Medical School Fund. The excluded materials relate to the Garrett family and its business ventures, to Mary Garrett’s personal health and treatment, and to her personal business. Bryn Mawr College has no claim at all to the literary rights of most of these papers and they have no direct or peripheral bearing on the papers in the Thomas Collection.

4. College records generated after Thomas’s retirement in 1922, and post-humous papers, including approximately 6 linear feet of records pertaining to the settlement of M. Carey Thomas’s estate.

5. In order to protect the privacy of former students, the names of those individuals who were excluded from the college for major infractions have been obliterated from the documents before microfilming.

The material not included on microfilm will be available in the Bryn Mawr College archives for examination by qualified researchers; a preservation copy of clippings and other copyrighted materials has been made and housed with the college’s microfilm collection.

In organizing the collection for microfilming, the separate provenances of the personal papers, official records, and supplemental holdings have been respected. Each series has a different plan of arrangements. Series I, Thomas’s personal papers, was first sorted according to types of material, with volumes (journals, notebooks, etc.), correspondence, and miscellaneous matter each being grouped separately. The volumes are arranged chronologically. Correspondence was divided into two groups: M. Carey Thomas’s mail and third party letters. Thomas’s mail was subdivided into outgoing and incoming correspondence; third party letters were separated into family third party and non-family third party. Each of these groups was filed alphabetically by author, or, in the case of Thomas’s outgoing correspondence, by recipient. A given person’s correspondence was then filed chronologically. Series II, Thomas’s official records, is subdivided into correspondence and miscellaneous materials, the former filed chronologically and the latter topically. Similarly, in the Bryn Mawr School Papers (Series III), correspondence has been separated from other matter. The Catt albums, Series IV, of course required no imposed organization.

The collection contains numerous undated items. Whenever possible, dates or span dates have been supplied on the basis of content or other internal evidence. Dates of postmarks and dockets on conjoined envelopes have been used on undated letters except for cases of obvious misplacement. Undated material is filed at the end of the group, or at the end of the month, year, or decade, if known. Enclosures and envelopes have been microfilmed with the letters they accompanied. Detached enclosures have been reunited with the covering document whenever unidentifiable. Editorial procedures adopted as solutions to particular problems are described on individual target cards throughout the microfilm.

In order to produce the best possible microfilm images of a voluminous body of materials which vary widely in quality of the original, in contrast, in document size, etc., a standard reduction has not been adopted. However, each frame includes a running target card measuring exactly 13.4 centimeters long. If necessary, the reduction ratio, or the size of the original document, may be ascertained by reference to this measurement.

Individual Correspondents: The print version of this guide includes an index to individual correspondents which it has not been possible to reproduce in this online guide. Please direct requests for assistance to the archivist or to

Collection Description
Reel List and Descriptions

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Last Update: January 23, 2018 , Special Collections at