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Swift, Sarah J.

Sarah J. Swift Papers

1890-1942
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 932

A Quaker and philanthropist from Worcester, Mass., Sarah J. Swift was a noted supporter of Friends’ missions in Palestine and Jamaica for over half a century. The wife of D. Wheeler Swift, an innovator in the manufacture of envelopes, Swift began to support the Friends’ foreign missions by the 1890s, becoming a major benefactor of the Eli and Sibyl Jones Mission and girls’ school in Ramallah and of the small Quaker mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica.

The Swift papers contain a thick series of letters from the Society of Friends’ Eli and Sybil Jones Mission in Ramallah, Palestine, documenting their activity between 1890 and 1942, with a much smaller series of letters relating to the mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica. The missionaries’ letters — including circular letters to supporters and others addressed to Swift personally — discuss school operations and local affairs in Palestine and Jamaica. Of particular note are letters discussing the work at Ramallah around the turn of the twentieth century and several letters discussing the hardships of wartime and recovery from war.

Background on Mary Doyle Curran

Mary Doyle Curran was born in 1917 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She remained there for the entirety of her adolescence, attending the local public schools for her primary and secondary education. After graduating high school, she went to Massachusetts State College (now known as the University of Massachusetts) where she received her undergraduate degree in English, becoming the first person in her family to ever do so. While at school she met George Curran, and a few years later they married. Curran then proceeded to earn her Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa. She graduated in February 1946 and almost immediately began teaching Contemporary Literature at Wellesley College. She later spent time as an English professor at Queens College, CUNY. Toward the end of her career Curran worked at the University of Massachusetts Boston in the Irish Studies department.

Curran’s only published novel, The Parish and the Hill, was released in 1948. She began the writing process during one cold and lonely winter at the University of Iowa, and finished it only a few years later. At the time of its publication it was not widely recognized, but the novel is now regarded as an important piece of Irish American literature, and is particularly esteemed in the Holyoke area where the book is set. Curran’s novel has been praised for its straightforward telling of the constraints facing first generation Irish-Americans and their descendants. She was a firm believer in the adage “write what you know” and The Parish and the Hill very clearly reflects this belief. In the forward of the 2002 reissue, Caledonia Kearns writes, “the power of this book…lies in the author’s sense of drama and the fierceness of her nostalgia.” Curran pulls the reader in with her ability to portray everyday life as something extraordinary, though not always beautiful.

In 1981, Curran died of lung cancer; she was living in Boston at the time. Her writings, both published and unpublished, were left to her friends Anne Halley and Jules Chametzky. As a part of its “Contemporary Classics by Women” collection, the Feminist Press reissued The Parish and the Hill in 1986, and then again in 2002. The 2002 edition includes an afterward written by Anne Halley, once a student of Curran’s, but a close friend in later years. The proceeds from these publications were aimed toward funding a prize for a woman author with a disability, which was a request outlined in Curran’s will.

Contents of Collection

The papers of Mary Doyle Curran trace the author’s intellectual and artistic growth. The bulk of the collection is comprised of her unpublished works, all of which address the experience of Irish American women in the 1920s. The rest of the collection, which includes letters, school material and photographs, complete a portrait of the woman as both an academic and novelist.

Series descriptions
ca. 1948-1977

Curran wrote six completed works, only one of which, The Parish and the Hill, was published in its entirety while another, The Paper City, includes two short stories that were published. The other five, including four novels and one compilation of short stories, remained as drafts in her collection. Each manuscript is in a different state of presentation; most are marked with edits, all except one is unbound, and there are multiple copies of every novel. Similar to the protagonist in The Parish and the Hill, the main female characters in these works are bold and intelligent. Curran’s writing explores topics concerning complicated family dynamics, and the difficulty of balancing the desire for an education with the expectation of marriage many young women felt at the time.

The Long Dark Hallway is the only one of Curran’s novels that does not trace the life of a college educated woman; instead it explores the dichotomy between scholarship and religion. The mother of the main character, Maggie, is determined her daughter will live a pious life as a nun, while her father is adamant that she deserves the opportunity to discover her autonomy through education. As they continue to battle for her loyalty, Maggie finds that she can find no comfort in either lifestyle.

No Longer Mourn follows Patricia Houlihan, a graduate student at the University of Iowa, as she discovers the intricacies of the world beyond her narrow life experiences. The setbacks she faces mold her into a more self-sufficient woman, and she learns that not all relationships are as straightforward as they first appear. Curran writes eloquently about heart break, creating situations that are undeniably works of fiction while simultaneously feeling so real the reader can’t help but sympathize with Patricia.

Two of the eleven short stories making up The Paper City (“The Devil’s Advocate” and “Mrs. Reardon’s Gamble”) were featured in The Massachusetts Review. The title, The Paper City, refers to the town of Holyoke, which was abundant in paper mills during Curran’s childhood.

The Root and the Branch is the most autobiographical of Curran’s novels; the main character even shares her name, Mary, with the author. The majority of the story revolves around Mary’s relationship with her mother and how it inspires her determination. It is a moving account of a young woman growing up and eventually away from the strong–and influential–maternal bond.

In A Woman of Feeling the reader can easily sense Curran’s frustration with the societal restrictions imposed upon women. Through her protagonist, Katherine, she focuses on the limitations and difficulties women faced while seeking out an education beyond secondary school. Katherine’s family is critical of her scholarly aspirations, which means she must fund her way through college by herself. Although she is dedicated to her studies Katherine doesn’t restrict herself solely to a life of academics, however she finds relationships–marriage in particular–to be just as complex to navigate as academia. Curran depicts the multifaceted struggles of a mill worker’s daughter in the 1920s with a frankness not often found in writing at the time.

The final and smallest part of the series is a scripted version of The Parish and the Hill. One of the copies is accompanied by a letter that mentions the potential of a stage adaption, although no such production appears to exist.

Curran spent the majority of her life in academia, so it’s fitting that the collection includes a portion of her school related material. Within this series are several undergraduate and graduate essays, as well as her dissertation and diploma from the University of Iowa. Fewer documents were saved from her years as a professor; these materials include class outlines and teaching notes.

Most of this portion of the collection consists of fan mail and congratulatory notes sent to Curran after the publication of The Parish and the Hill. She received letters from friends, colleagues, and former students, the most recognizable among them being fellow authors e.e. cummings, Saul Bellow, Josephine Herbst, and Anne Halley. This series also contains a couple of travel journals, and various other documents pertaining to The Parish and the Hill.

Curran enjoyed documenting her life in pictures as well as words. Her family and friends are heavily featured as the subjects of her photos; there are only a few portraits of Curran herself. She was an avid traveler, and there are a variety of shots from her trips to England, Greece, and Ireland. When she visits Greece she gets friendly with a roaming pelican, and manages to snap a picture of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The photos from her other trips consist of the more traditional scenic shots.

Collection inventory
Series 1. Writings
ca. 1948-1977
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 1-52, copy 1
Box 1: 1
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 53-110, copy 1
Box 1: 2
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 111-167, copy 1
Box 1: 3
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 168-213, copy 1
Box 1: 4
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 1-52, copy 2
Box 1: 5
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 53-110, copy 2
Box 1: 6
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 111-167, copy 2
Box 1: 7
The Long Dark Hallway
undated
pages 168-213, copy 2
Box 1: 8
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 1-42, copy 1
Box 1: 9
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 43-90, copy 1
Box 1: 10
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 91-142, copy 1
Box 1: 11
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 143-231, copy 1
Box 1: 12
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 232-294, copy 1
Box 1: 13
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 1-42, copy 2
Box 1: 14
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 43-90, copy 2
Box 1: 15
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 91-142, copy 2
Box 1: 16
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 143-231, copy 2
Box 1: 17
No Longer Mourn
undated
pages 232-294, copy 2
Box 1: 18
No Longer Mourn
undated
bound copy
Box 2: 1
The Paper City: manuscript overview
undated
Box 2: 2
The Paper City: finished first copy
undated
Box 2: 3
The Paper City: copies of stories
undated
Box 2: 4
The Paper City: copies of stories
undated
Box 2: 5
The Paper City: “To My Crystal Insighted Students”
1977 May
Box 2: 6
The Paper City: “The Paper City Ave”
undated
Box 2: 7
The Paper City: “A Hollow Eve”
undated
Box 2: 8
The Paper City: “And the Cold River Runs On”
undated
Box 2: 9
The Paper City: “A Hard Case”
undated
Box 2: 10
The Paper City: “Mr. Dempsey’s Brood”
undated
Box 2: 11
The Paper City: “There But For The Grace”
undated
Box 2: 12
The Paper City: “Mary, The Dishwasher”
undated
Box 2: 13
The Paper City: “Mary, The Dishwasher”
undated
fragment
Box 2: 14
The Paper City: “The Open Hearth”
undated
Box 2: 15
The Paper City: “The Paper City: Vale”
undated
Box 2: 16
The Parish and the Hill Script
undated
second half
Box 2: 17
The Parish and the Hill, script
undated
entire
Box 2: 18
The Parish and the Hill, script
undated
entire
Box 2: 19
The Root and the Branch: chapters 1-5
ca. 1970
pages 1-50
Box 3: 1
The Root and the Branch: chapters 1-5
ca. 1970
pages 1-52
Box 3: 2
The Root and the Branch: chapters 1-8
ca. 1970
partial, pages 1-84
Box 3: 3
The Root and the Branch: chapters 1-8
ca. 1970
partial, pages 1-84
Box 3: 4
The Root and the Branch: chapter 7 “Graduate School”
ca. 1970
Box 3: 5
The Root and the Branch: chapter 7 “The War and Marriage”
ca. 1970
Box 3: 6
The Root and the Branch: chapter 9 “The Song of the Jay”
ca. 1970
Box 3: 7
The Root and the Branch: chapter 10 “Flight and Rest”
ca. 1970
Box 3: 8
The Root and the Branch: uncollated pages
ca. 1970
Box 3: 9
A Woman of Feeling
undated
pages 1-37
Box 3: 10
A Woman of Feeling: “The Bridge”
undated
Box 3: 11
A Woman of Feeling
undated
pages 372-430
Box 3: 12
A Woman of Feeling
undated
pages 431-482
Box 3: 13
A Woman of Feeling
undated
second draft, pages 1-77
Box 3: 14
A Woman of Feeling
undated
second draft, pages 78-140
Box 3: 15
A Woman of Feeling
undated
second draft, pages 141-200
Box 3: 16
A Woman of Feeling
undated
second draft, pages 201-267
Box 3: 17
A Woman of Feeling
undated
second draft, pages 268-331
Box 3: 18
Series 2. Academics
1917-1975
“Agce Manuscript”
undated
Box 4: 1
“Catholicism and the Irish Male: Gender and Ethnicity in Late 19th Century America” Essay by Colleen McDannell
undated
Box 4: 2
Class material
undated
Box 4: 3
Course syllabi
1952-1954
Box 4: 4
Cum Laude poetry exam
1963
Box 4: 5
Diploma (Ph.D.) and transcripts from State University of Iowa
1946
Box 4: 6
Dissertation: “A Commentary on the Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins”
1946 Feb
Box 4: 7
Dissertation: “A Commentary on the Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins”
1946 Feb
Box 4: 8
Dissertation: “A Commentary on the Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins”
1946 Feb
Box 4: 9
Dissertation: “A Commentary on the Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins”
1946 Feb
Box 4: 10
Dissertation: bound copy
1946 Feb
Box 4: 11
Dissertation: Hopkins glossary
1946 Feb
Box 4: 12
Ephemera
1946 Feb-1948 Nov
Box 4: 13
Graduate and undergraduate essays
1938-1941
Box 5: 1
Graduate and undergraduate essays
ca. 1940
Box 5: 2
Graduate and undergraduate essays
ca. 1940
Box 5: 3
Graduate and undergraduate essays
ca. 1940
Box 5: 4
Graduate and undergraduate essays
1942
Box 5: 5
Graduate and undergraduate essays
Box 5: 6
Irish American bibliography
ca. 1986
Box 5: 7
Irish Studies program
1985
Box 5: 8
Lecture aids, reading list
ca. 1949
Box 5: 9
Lecture notes
ca. 1960
Box 5: 10
Literary journals
1975 Apr-Aug
Box 5: 11
Notes on literature
undated
Box 5: 12
Poem: “No Cure for Lameness”
undated
Box 5: 13
Poem from student
undated
Box 5: 14
Published criticism on Robert Frost
1917 Aug
Box 5: 15

Not authored by Curran.

Student essay on The Parish and the Hill
1988 Apr
Box 5: 16
Student papers
undated
Box 5: 17
“William Butler Yeats at Wellesley”
1952 July
Box 5: 18
Series 3. Correspondence and Personal
1948-1980
Correspondence: “Aileen”
1948 Dec
Box 6: 1
Correspondence: Bellow, Saul
1953 Aug-1976 Feb
Box 6: 2
Correspondence: Bruce
1948 Sept
Box 6: 3
Correspondence: cards and postcards
1948 Aug-1980 Jan
Box 6: 4
Correspondence: Carey, Emilie
1948 Sept
Box 6: 5
Correspondence: Cohen, Winnie
1948 Sept
Box 6: 6
Correspondence: Deutsch, Babette
1953 Aug-Nov
Box 6: 7
Correspondence: Doran, Bill and Hazel
1948 Sept
Box 6: 8
Correspondence (photocopy): e.e cummings
1950 Mar
Box 6: 9
Correspondence: Eaton, Alrah and Edna
1948 Aug
Box 6: 10
Correspondence: Envelopes
1948 Aug-Oct
Box 6: 11
Correspondence: fan mail
1948 Aug-Dec
Box 6: 12
Correspondence: Foley, Kay
1948 Sept
Box 6: 13
Correspondence: Grant, Billie and Joe
1948 Sept-Oct
Box 6: 14
Correspondence: Halley, Anne
undated
Box 6: 15
Correspondence: Hannah
1948 Sept
Box 6: 16
Correspondence: Harvey McArthur, Mrs. (Becky)
1948 Sept
Box 6: 17
Correspondence: Herbst, J.
1953 Aug-1954 July
Box 6: 18
Correspondence: Jordan, Harold
1948 Aug
Box 6: 19
Correspondence: Kennedy, Anne
1948 Sept
Box 6: 20
Correspondence: Korsch, Hedda
1976 Nov
Box 6: 21
Correspondence: Makem, Tommy
1974 July
Box 6: 22
Correspondence: Mary
1976 Aug-Nov
Box 6: 23
Correspondence: Meppy
1948 Sept
Box 6: 24
Correspondence: Morgan, Esther
Sept 1948
Box 6: 25
Correspondence: Muzzioli, Annie
1973 Sept
Box 6: 26
Correspondence: Paolo
1953 Aug-1954 May
Box 6: 27
Correspondence: The Parish and the Hill
1985
Box 6: 28
Correspondence: Pat
ca. 1960
Box 6: 29
Correspondence: Paul
1948 Dec
Box 6: 30
Correspondence: publishers, literary agents, professional contacts
1948 Aug-1976 Sept
Box 6: 31
Correspondence: Sherman, T.
1953 Aug
Box 6: 32
Correspondence: Smith, Evelyn
1948 Sept
Box 6: 33
Correspondence: students
ca. 1948
Box 6: 34
Correspondence: Summers, Joseph
1948 Oct
Box 6: 35
Correspondence: Sunniva
1976 Sept
Box 6: 36
Correspondence: Sylvia
1948 Sept
Box 6: 37
Correspondence: various
ca. 1980
Box 6: 38
Correspondence: Wilbur, Dick
1948 Aug-Dec
Box 6: 39
Correspondence: Williams, Edna
1979 Sept
Box 6: 40
Correspondence: Zekvid, Ferce
1948 Sept
Box 6: 41
Houghton Mifflin Company: June through January Publications
1948
Box 6: 42
Newspaper Clippings
1953 Sept-1957 Oct
Box 6: 43
“The Parish and the Hill” Reviews
1987 May-Oct
Box 6: 44
Publisher and Record Catalogues and Literary Advertisement
undated
Box 6: 45
Receipts
1976 June
Box 6: 46
“That Magical Trip through Western France by Car and Camera with Esther and Jim”
1963
Box 6: 47
Travel Journal: Ireland
1973
Box 6: 48
Series 4. Photographs
1917-1975
Curran and friends
ca. 1930-1940
Box 7: 1
Family photographs
ca. 1970
Box 7: 2
Family photographs: Husband (George Curran)
ca. 1950
Box 7: 3
Family photographs: Parents and Relatives
1917-1952
Box 7: 4
Graduation and class photograph
1946
Box 7: 5
Negatives
ca. 1975
Box 7: 6
Portrait of Curran
ca. 1950
Box 7: 7
Travel photographs: England
1952
Box 7: 8
Travel photographs: Greece
ca. 1960
Box 7: 9
Travel photographs: Ireland
1973
Box 7: 10
Vacation photographs
ca. 1970
Box 7: 11
Administrative information
Provenance

Acquired from Jules Chametzky, 2005.

Processing Information

Processed by Rachel Purington, 2016.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Mary Doyle Curran (MS 435). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016

Subjects

Eli and Sybil Jones Mission (Ramallah, Palestine)Jamaica--History--20th centuryMissionaries--JamaicaMissionaries--PalestinePalestine--History--20th centuryWorld War, 1914-1918World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Jones, Alice W.Kelsey, A. EdwardVincent, Charles S.

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