Alumnae Quarterly, Summer 1978

Miss Marks and Miss Woolley

It is with anger, but not surprise, that I noted no mention of Anna Mary Wells's recent biography of Jeannette Marks and Mary E. Woolley in the spring Quarterly. The fact that the book was not listed in "Bookshelf" is perhaps excusable, since the biography was not released until May. However, I found the lack of any mention of the research of Mary Woolley's life in an issue devoted to the increasing use of the Mount Holyoke archives to be ominous in its implications.

Wells remarks in her foreword that originally the College had been enthusiastic about a new biography of Mary Woolley. However, when Wells started going through some unsorted papers belonging to Jeannette Marks and an unopened box labeled "Mary E. Woolley Papers," she found that these papers "radically altered both my plan and the feeling of the College authorities about it." ... She later remarks that she would like to thank the many Mount Holyoke faculty, staff, alumnae and students who aided her, "but in view of the strong division of opinion [at Mount Holyoke] I hesitate to use names."

It disturbs me greatly that Mount Holyoke felt any division of opinion at all concerning the publication of what Wells eventually decided to make a joint biography of Marks and Woolley ....

Mount Holyoke exists in order to educate strong, self-dependent, assertive and well-educated women whose minds have been broadened by a good liberal arts education. Some will be wives, others will combine marriage and career, yet others will be celibate - and some will be gay. It is to be hoped that more of them will be like Anna Wells, who was able to overcome her initial embarrassment and repulsion to come to an acceptance of love between Woolley and Marks, and a beginning of an understanding of what it means to be gay and a woman in this society. Ms. Wells has done a remarkable job in bringing these two women alive for us. Her biography of them is well-written, fair, and as well-researched as possible, given the restrictions the College placed upon her. She is an example of a woman who took to heart Mount Holyoke's principles of honesty and truthfulness in scholarship. As the Catalogue states, a liberal arts college "believes that the tools of thought and attitudes of mind acquired in a liberal arts college can be translated into the acts by which, without violence, things that do violence to the world are changed." Anna Wells has attempted an act that may help to end the violence against gay men and women in the United States. Her biography of Jeannette Marks and Mary Woolley is not something the College should wish to suppress and obscure, but something to be proud of and share with the world.

M. Daphne Kutzer '74
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

Editor's Note: The primary concern of the spring issue was the increased use of the archives by Mount Holyoke undergraduates. Use by other scholars was not the emphasis. Anna Mary Wells's research on Mary Woolley was not mentioned, nor, for example, was that of George Martin on Frances Perkins. On the other hand, the research by Dr. Deranian on his great-uncle Hagop Bogigian came to us as an unsolicited manuscript and seemed appropriate to include not so much because of research done in the archives but because of the coincidental relationship to the article by student Beth Harrell on missionaries in Turkey.

As for a review of Miss Marks and Miss Woolley, we had planned all along, and had been in correspondence with Anna Mary Wells concerning our plans, to have an article-length review when the book was published. That review appears in this issue on page 34.

Concerning the suggested "restrictions the College placed" on Anna Mary Wells, it is important for readers to know that on December 22, 1976, in "an effort to clear up the misunderstandings concerning Mount Holyoke policy and to eliminate the tensions that seemed to be piling up in consequence," President Truman wrote to Ms. Wells and included a copy of a letter which he had sent to the editor in chief of Houghton Mifflin. He said: "Circumstances surrounding the prospective use of the Woolley-Marks letters by Anna Wells have altered substantially since my letter to you of April 28, 1976 .... Miss Wells is free to use in her proposed biography of Miss Woolley the knowledge that she has acquired from materials in the Mount Holyoke archives. She may in that work quote from the Woolley-Marks letters that she has consulted in those archives. In that connection we would expect her to acknowledge the source and location of quoted material in whatever scholarly form seems most appropriate to her and to you. The College wishes to place no other conditions on the use of the Woolley-Marks papers by Miss Wells in her proposed biography."

Because rumors had been circulating, the winter 1977 Quarterly carried a statement which was approved both by Anna Mary Wells and by Mr. Truman. It said: "Miss Wells was given access to all the material with the expressed faith that she would treat it sensitively. Concerning the right to quote, the official permission, in an effort to protect everyone's best interest, was expressed in complicated legal terms which Miss Wells referred to as 'a very Catch-22 letter' that seemed to be a 'skillful executive no.' ... The College took the position that if Miss Wells wished to quote from the letters, consent from the heirs would be secured, and that this consent 'would be facilitated if the College and the heirs could examine the manuscript and the proposed use of the material.' ... Since the original position of the College caused so much complication and misunderstanding, the College has reconsidered its approach. Anna Mary Wells has been given full permission to quote and cite sources. The College has continued to express complete confidence in the scholarly capacities and sound judgment of Miss Wells and Houghton Mifflin to produce a book which will be a tribute to the great stature of Miss Woolley and to the accomplishments of Miss Marks."

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