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Niles Family Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-267

Scope and Contents

Mary Cushing (Howard) Niles was a pioneer in the field of personnel management, and her husband Henry E. Niles was an executive with Baltimore Life Insurance Company and spent a year with United States Technical Cooperation Mission to India. Both were members of Baltimore Monthly Meeting (Stony Run) and active in Quaker concerns. Their extensive personal and professional papers include material concerning several visits to India and work with the Arcane School. They were also involved with Friends World College, Friends Conference on National Legislation, and Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace.


  • 1881-1991


Language of Materials

Records entirely in English

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See

Biographical / Historical

Mary Cushing Howard was born June 1900 in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of William Travis Howard and Mary Cushing Williams Howard. Her father was a professor of pathology at the Western Reserve University Medical School and the School of Hygiene and Public Heath at Johns Hopkins University.

Niles received her B. S. degree in 1922 from Johns Hopkins University and later completed three years of graduate studies in Economics at Johns Hopkins and Columbia University. In 1923 she married Henry Edward Niles with whom she raised two daughters, Mary Cushing and Alice Lee.

Mary Cushing Niles enjoyed a successful career as an consultant, author, and organizer in the field of personnel management. In 1931 she and her husband formed their own management consulting firm which they conducted as partners until 1939. In 1935 they wrote the book The Office Supervisor, a pioneering work in the field of white-collar supervision. In 1968 they published another book, The Supervisor. Mary Cushing independently authored two more works, Middle Management (1941) and The Essence of Management (1957), and she traveled to several countries including India and Japan to lecture.

In 1941 she was employed by United States Civil Service Commission, at first with the Planning Staff and then the Federal Personnel Council. Eventually she was named Assistant to the Chairman of the Council, the policy body of personnel directors in the federal government. In March 1953 Mary Cushing took a leave of absence to join her husband who had accepted an appointment in New Delhi, India, as Deputy Director of the Point-IV Program. She returned to the Civil Service Commission in December 1954 where she worked until her retirement in 1957. From 1949-1953 she concurrently taught a course in human relations in management at American University and served as president and then senior advisor to the Washington Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Management. During her leave of absence in India from 1953-1954, she represented the International Scientific Management Committee and served as a management expert to the government of India to establish a national management association. In 1959 she revisited India to lecture. On her return, she traveled through Africa to witness the emerging independent countries and wrote an unpublished book entitled Black Africa Asti which presents social, economic, and managerial trends on the African continent in 1960.

Throughout her life she was involved with religious organizations. Though raised Episcopalian, during the early years of her marriage she attended Quaker meetings. She became a member of Baltimore Monthly Meeting (Stony Run) in 1951 where she served as Clerk for Overseers and on the Ministry and Counsel and Social Order Committees. She also explored other religions. In the mid-1930’s she joined the Arcane School, an occult correspondence school founded by the writer Alice Bailey in 1923. She joined the Group for Creative Meditation based in Ojai, CA, and headed the Specialized Group for Political and Social Order which used meditation to achieve social and global unification. She also served on the Board of Church Women United of Baltimore and Maryland where she lectured on India, Africa, and Eastern religions. Throughout her adult life she corresponded with Raihana Tyabji, a Hindu mystic and seer, Kakasaheb Kalelkar, and Saroj Nanavati, all of whom resided in Gandhi’s ashram in India.

In 1964 Mary Cushing Niles joined a group of volunteers to establish Friends World College. She became a full-time volunteer, serving on the original Board in 1965 to one year before her death in 1993.

Biographical / Historical

Henry E. Niles

Henry Edward Niles was born January 1900 and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Judge Alfred Salem Niles and Mary Hamilton (Waters) Niles. He was the brother of the Honorable Emory Niles.

Niles attended the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute 1915 -1917 and then studied at Johns Hopkins University. In 1920 he graduated with an A. B. in Economics. He studied statistical method at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene from 1920 until 1921, after which he spent a year studying at the University of London, Cambridge, and then in Berlin, Padua, and Rome. In 1923 he married Mary Cushing Niles.

In 1923 he began work as the assistant manager of the Life Insurance Sales Bureau. From 1931 until 1939 he worked as a partner with his wife in their independent management consulting firm in the United States and Canada. They co-authored the book The Office Supervisor, published in 1935, from the data they collected during their years working together. In 1940 Niles returned to life insurance as an employee of the Baltimore Life Insurance Company, ultimately becoming vice president and then president in 1957. During World War II he worked almost full-time at the Office of Price Administration. During his career, Niles also served as president of the American Management Association. In 1952 he took a year’s leave of absence from his company to serve as Deputy Director of the United States Technical Cooperation Mission to India which was established to provide economic aid and technical assistance. Niles also served on the board of Morgan State College and as a director of its Life Insurance Medical Research Fund. In 1970 he retired from his position as Chairman of the Board of the Baltimore Life Insurance Company.

Like his wife, Henry Niles led an active religious life. Although the family was Presbyterian when Niles was born, his father eventually joined a nearby Unitarian Church. After many years as attenders, in 1951 Henry and Mary Cushing joined Baltimore Monthly Meeting (Stony Run). In later years Niles served on the Board and as Vice Chairman of the American Friends Service Committee. At the same time, he maintained a deep interest in astrology and meditation. He was an intimate friend of the Hindu seer and mystic Raihana Tyabji as well as Kakasaheb Kalelkar and Saroj Nanavati, who had been close associates of Gandhi and resided in his ashram.

In 1967 he founded and chaired the Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace, a national peace organization which petitioned and supported political candidates who opposed the war. The group’s activity led to its inclusion on Nixon’s list of White House enemies.

In 1978 he and his wife moved from Baltimore to Broadmead, a Friends life care community in Cockeysville, Maryland. They were among the first residents and lived there until their deaths in 1993.


35 Linear Feet (80 boxes)


Mary Cushing (Howard) Niles (1900-1993) was a pioneer in the field of personnel management, and her husband, Henry E. Niles (1900-1993), was a management executive. Both were active in Quaker concerns. Their extensive personal and professional papers include material from several extended visits to India and work with Friends World College, Friends Conference on National Legislation, Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace, and New Age philosophies.


The collection is divided into three series:

  1. Mary Cushing Niles
  2. Henry E.Niles
  3. Niles family

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Gift of Cushing Niles Dolbeare, 1997 [1997-021]

The collection was given by Cushing Niles Dolbeare, the daughter of Mary Cushing and Henry Niles.

The papers had lost any coherent order through repeated “down-sizing” of the Niles’ home. They were sorted into five groups: Mary Cushing Niles, Henry Niles, Niles Family, Friends World College, Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace (BEM), and Friends Conference on National Legislation (FCNL). The BEM and FCNL were transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection in 2008 because it is the depository for those organizations. Mary Cushing Niles’ substantial collection of papers on Friends World College were removed and processed as a separate collection, RG 4/116 . Duplicates, federal publications, and mimeographed official minutes of the Council of Personnel Administration were removed unless there was a direct connection to Niles. The pictures and audio visual material were removed to PA 136. A small amount of papers concerning Quaker meetings were transferred to RG2. Series 3, Niles Family contains extensive personal correspondence between Mary Cushing and Henry Niles. The collection still contains a great amount of secondary material, especially on management and the Civil Service Commission.

Related Materials

Friends World College Records, RG 4/082

Separated Materials

The following material was also given:

  1. Mary Cushing Niles: Friends World College Collection, RG 4/116
  2. Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace, Swarthmore College Peace Collection
  3. Friends Conference on National Legislation, Swarthmore College Peace Collection
  4. Cassette tapes stored with in FHL AV Collection
  5. Niles Pictures, PA 136
An Inventory of the Niles Family Papers, 1881-1991
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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