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Margaret Hall Whitfield Papers

 Collection
Identifier: BMC-M103

Scope and Contents

The Margaret Rumsey Hall Whitfield Papers consist primarily of her notebooks from 1947 into the 1990s, and include journal entries, loose correspondence, calendars and appointment books, academic coursework, photographs, and poetry, short stories, essays, biographical writing, and autobiographical writing. Most of the papers were originally filed in small 3-ring binders, but for preservation purposes they have been removed from the binders and stored in archival-quality folders and boxes. The original order of the papers in the notebooks has been retained, and the folders and boxes are labelled with the notebook number from which they came.

The journal entries, reflective essays, and her letters, some of them unsent, are eloquent, detailed and frank letters about a woman’s life in the 2nd half of the twentieth century. Her writings provide extensive documentation of her dating and romantic life, her education, the raising of children, contemporary political and civic events, business and financial affairs, and horses.

The collection is organized into the following 9 series:

Series 1: Numbered notebooks, boxes 1-22, 1947-1980. Organized by year, with most years containing a combination of journal entries, correspondence, photographs and other writings. Many of the notebooks also include her later reflections on the events of that time, with most of the comments being written shortly after the time of the events, in the 1970s when she reviewed many of the notebooks, and in the 2010s when she was preparing the notebooks for Bryn Mawr College.

Series 2: Unnumbered notebooks, boxes 12, 23-28, 1947-2005. Notebooks organized by theme, including journal entries, correspondence, and other writings. Included is correspondence with friends and romantic interests, including letters which she wrote but did not send, and journals from travel in the US in 1947, in Europe in 1955, and Ireland in 1996.

Series 3: Correspondence. Boxes 28-35. Both incoming and outgoing correspondence with friends and family members.

• Check boxes 29-31, a printed finding aid says Correspondence is only in 32-35

Series 4: Writings, Boxes 36-42. Includes essays, poetry, and autobiographical writings, including a self-written obituary. Last folder in box 42 contains writing by Adam Reeves, her son.

Series 5: Clippings, Box 28, including a clipping about JFK Jr. failing his second Bar Exam, a 1996 opinion piece about Peggy’s resignation from the Great Barrington Planning Board, 1991 photographs at Round Hill Farm featuring Shaker furniture, Margaret Hall’s engagement announcement to Reeves.

Series 6: Calendars & appointment books, Box 29-30. Writing about events of the day, expenses, family lists. (1989-1997) Also included in these folders are various clippings. (box 29)

Series 7: Photographs, Box 30, Older photographs are largely undated. Photos of Frank Markham Brown, Margaret Whitfield as a young woman and older (one from 1955, 1952), 1978 photos of Thomas Whitfield and Daniel J. Siegel, 1952 photo of ex-fiance William Hoke Ritchie, Jr., a 1943 photograph of the siblings, 1939 photograph of family portrait.

Series 8: Academic coursework, Box 31, Compositions from the Winsor School (1943-1948), notes and papers from Bryn Mawr English classes (1954-1955), Harvard Literature courses (1956, 1957), a Radcliffe/Harvard seminar titled “American Gardens and Landscape” (1966), notebook for Buddhist class in San Francisco (****), a notebook from a Harvard Introduction to Microcomputing class (1987)

Series 9: Other papers, Box 40-41, Principally legal documents, wedding and equestrian papers, and videos.

Dates

  • 1943 - 2013

Creator

Conditions Governing Use

The Margaret Rumsey Hall Whitfield Papers are the physical property of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors’ heirs and assigns.

Biographical Note

Margaret (“Peggy”) Rumsey Hall Whitfield was born in Great Barrington, MA on June 23, 1933 to Livingston and Elizabeth Blodgett Hall. Her father practiced private law, was the Roscoe Pound Professor Emeritus and vice dean at Harvard Law School, and served as the head of a number of law studies, commissions, and councils.. Her mother was headmistress of Concord Academy, and in 1964 founded Simon’s Rock College, an experimental liberal arts school designed for high school-age students. She served as its president until 1972.

Margaret (MRHW) was the second oldest of the Hall’s four children, She grew up on a farm in Weston, MA and attended three different grade schools. In 1949, the Hall family moved from Weston to Concord, MA, but she continued to commute to Weston to attend The Cambridge School of Weston. She graduated from high school there in 1951. In 1955 she graduated cum laude in English from Bryn Mawr College. That summer, she was hired as head of the English department at the Sarah Dix Hamlin School in San Francisco. In 1956 she returned to Concord and decided to continue her education at Radcliffe College where she took an AMT in English in 1957. In June of that year, she married a physiologist and Harvard Junior Fellow, Robert Blake Reeves. She then became a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Education in the fields of History, Philosophy, and Comparative Study of Education at Harvard and worked toward this degree from 1957 to 1959. In 1958-1959, she worked as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard.

When her husband accepted jobs at the University of Buffalo and then Cornell, the family moved to upstate New York. They had two children, Adam Andersen Reeves, born September 27, 1960, and Abigail Dolliver Reeves Haupt, born December 29, 1962. MRHW ended her marriage to Reeves in 1964, and subsequently returned to Concord where she raised her children, and cared for her father.

In 1965 she married Thomas Japheth Whitfield III, her children’s pediatrician. Later he would coordinate and advocate for the Children’s Health Program, which sought to provide preventative and sick care at to children in rural Massachusetts who lacked regular access to healthcare. After the marriage, MRHW helped raise Thomas’ two children, Thomas Japheth Whitfield IV (“Todd”) and Rebecca Lindsay Whitfield Goldberg (“Beckett”) while managing a large household. Always good at building and repairing things, she started Round Hill Tackroom Furniture, a company that made custom cabinets and other tack furniture. In 1973 the family moved to Great Barrington, MA to Round Hill Farm. In addition to running Round Hill, she took over management of the family’s 300-acre Great Pine Farm in 1975 and continued managing it until 2010. In order to put their large house to use, MRHW and her husband ran Round Hill Farm Bed & Breakfast from 1984 to 1992. The two of them remained happily married until Thomas’ death in 1996. In 2005 she married Thomas Edward Courant, but the marriage was short-lived. She left the Berkshires and moved to Briones, CA in 2010.

Throughout her life, Margaret was an avid reader and writer. Beginning in 1947, she created “journals” that contained not only journal entries, but also correspondence, poetry, essays, financial information, news clippings, and pamphlets. She also had a deep passion for horses and ponies from an early age. She rode, boarded, and bred these animals, and participated in competitions and foxhunts. Additionally, Margaret was very active in her community. She served on Great Barrington’s Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and Zoning Board; did volunteer work; and supported many charities, causes, and institutions. She served as the director of the Margaret Kendrick Blodgett Foundation for decades.

Extent

2 boxes

Language

English

Abstract

Margaret Rumsey Hall Whitfield (bornJune 23, 1933) was a 1955 graduate of Bryn Mawr College, did graduate work at Radcliffe and Harvard in Education in the late 1950s, and spent much of her life in either Concord or Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where she raised a family, raised and rode horses, managed businesses and property, and wrote. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Blodgett Hall, founder of Simon’s Rock College, and Livingston Hall, who taught law at Harvard. The papers consist of her extensive notebooks of journal entries, correspondence, photographs, and writings documenting her life from high school at the Cambridge School in Weston, MA in 1947 to her move to California in the 2000s. Preferred Citation: Cite as Margaret Rumsey Hall Whitfield Papers, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Custodial History

Gift of Margaret Rumsey Hall Whitfield, Class of 1955

Status
In Progress
Author
Jennifer White Allison Rodgers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

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