Skip to main content

Ethel Adelson Schaper papers

Identifier: MS 0785

Scope and Contents

The Ethel Adelson Schaper papers consist of correspondence, memorabilia, a small painting, biographical information, and a photograph. The correspondence consists of 63 letters and 26 postcards from Schaper to her parents during her four years at Mount Holyoke College, 1940-1944. The letters primarily document her social life at Mount Holyoke and off campus. They include frequent discussions of dating and weekend travel to other colleges, with detailed descriptions of clothing worn for such activities, as well as mention of transportation used for weekend and local travel. Some letters contain illustrations, usually of clothing. She frequently discusses the exact cost of clothing and some of her College bills. In two letters, she expresses a new awareness of her own comfortable financial circumstances when a friend cannot afford any dresses on a shopping trip and when another friend is cut off financially by her father and must live with a professor and work off campus to remain in school. The letters also describe dormitory life, Mount Holyoke traditions such as Mountain Day, Hazing Day, Junior Prom, Junior Show, and Faculty Show, and participation in several work projects in the community. She occasionally refers to racial issues including a description of the one African American student in the Mount Holyoke College junior class being forced to walk alone with her date during the Promenade at Junior Prom in 1941, a mention of a work project shingling an African American church in Amherst, and a description of hearing a dean from Howard University speak in chapel. She usually makes only passing reference to classes, professors, and grades, with very few exceptions when particular assignments or lectures are mentioned. Some letters touch on aspects of World War II, including shoe rationing, the scarcity of sugar, WAVES and Women Marines training on campus, a mock air raid in Holyoke, Massachusetts, friends enlisting in the armed forces, and Schaper's changed perspective about the importance of parties, decorations, travel and clothing. There is frequent mention of candy (always in connection with her father's company, Delson's Candy) and occasional mention of other food. Of particular note are letters and an article describing the Mount Holyoke College water shortage of September 1941 and a letter describing Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to campus on February 6, 1941 that refers to her negative opinion of Charles Lindbergh and includes two illustrations and a detailed description of her dress. The letters also mention Mount Holyoke President Roswell Gray Ham, art professor Henry Rox, philosophy professors John Martyn Warbeke and Roger W. Holmes, English professors Leonora Branch and George Abbe, and classmate Bobbie (Barbara) Auslander Masius. She also mentions visitors to campus, including Janet Brewster Murrow, William Lyon Phelps, and Marion Anderson. The memorabilia consists of the program from a 1941 exhibition sponsored by the Mount Holyoke Friends of Art; a humorous form letter addressed "Dear Parent;" a newspaper advertisement for a blouse; two Mount Holyoke College brochures; and material formerly in a scrapbook, including newspaper clippings with photographs of or references to Mount Holyoke faculty and students; two articles about college football games; six snapshots of Schaper and her friends on Mountain Day 1940; two photographs of a Mount Holyoke College play for which she designed scenery; and Junior Show, Faculty Show and Drama Club programs. The painting by Schaper is a 9 x 12 in. egg tempera depiction of the soda fountain at Glesmann's Drugstore in South Hadley. The biographical information consists of newspaper clippings announcing Schaper's marriage. The photograph is a formal photograph of Schaper from her student file.


  • Creation: 1939-ca.1948
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1944

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical Note

Ethel Gersch Adelson was born on May 10, 1923 in New York City to Charles Robert Adelson, a candy manufacturer, and Jane Levinson Adelson. She attended high school in New York City and Great Neck, New York. From February to June 1940 she attended the Art Student's League in New York City. She attended Mount Holyoke College from 1940 to 1944, graduating with a major in art and a minor in philosophy. She also attended a number of art schools during summers away from Mount Holyoke. On February 15, 1948 she married Armin Newton Schaper, an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin and a Navy veteran, and moved with him to Harrison, NY. They had two children: Elizabeth Ann (MHC '74) and Douglas Barnard. Mr. and Mrs. Schaper operated the Schaper Collection, Antiques & Interiors in Rye, New York.


2 boxes (Class of 1944 Adelson)

Language of Materials



Schaper, Ethel Adelson, 1923- ; student. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1944. Papers consist of correspondence, memorabilia, a small painting, biographical information, and a photograph. Primarily correspondence with her parents during her college years, pertaining to her experiences at Mount Holyoke College and her social life on and off campus.


Arranged in 5 series: Series 1. Correspondence. Series 2. Memorabilia. Series 3. Painting. Series 4. Biographical information. Series 5. Photograph.

Ethel Adelson Schaper papers, 1939-ca.1948 (bulk 1940-1944)
Finding Aid
Edited Full Draft
© 2004
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Encoding funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA