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Charlotte D'Evelyn papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS 0526

Scope and Contents

The Charlotte D'Evelyn Papers consist of correspondence, writings, biographical information, dies of bookplates and coat of arms, photographs and lantern slides. The materials document her experiences as a graduate student at the University of Oxford in England at the time of the World War I, her career as an English professor at Mount Holyoke College and her passion for medieval languages and literature. The correspondence mainly consists of letters written to her family during her trip to and while in England for her graduate studies, 1915-1916. Of note are letters describing sightseeing, her social and academic life at Oxford and aspects of her wartime experience in England in such as air raids, bombing campaigns, blackouts, and public involvement and reaction to the war. The writings include a variety of unpublished personal essays written in England with topics such as "Fairies", "Amateurs in Art" and "Oxford Sketches". Other writings consist of publications and manuscript editions of articles and books on subjects pertaining to medieval language and literature. Biographical information includes biographical notes, copies of newspaper clippings, tributes and obituaries. Also included are memoirs of her mother, Susan Taylor D'Evelyn and writing on the Baha'i faith. Photographs include a formal portrait of D'Evelyn and photographs showing her with students and colleagues. The lantern slides used by D'Evelyn in her classes at Mount Holyoke College pertain to English architecture, landscape and Shakespearian memorabilia.


  • Creation: 1892-1982
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1915 - 1916

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical Note

Charlotte D'Evelyn was born on May 23, 1889 in San Francisco, California to Frederick William D'Evelyn and Susan Taylor D'Evelyn. She received a B.L. from Mills College in 1911 and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in 1917. As a graduate student she was awarded a grant fellowship to study in Oxford, England. Upon her graduation she began teaching English literature at Mount Holyoke College with a focus on Middle English and Chaucer. She became a full professor in in 1932 and was chair of the English Department from 1939-1945. She edited many medieval texts and wrote a variety of articles and papers. She continued her research in medieval texts after her retirement in 1954. She died at the age of eighty-eight on December 18, 1977 in Central Falls, Rhode Island.


2.38 Linear Feet (2 full Hollinger, 1 half Hollinger, and 2 specialty boxes)

Language of Materials



D'Evelyn, Charlotte, 1889-1977; college teacher, Medievalist. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1917-1954. Papers consist of correspondence, writings, dies of bookplates and a coat of arms, photographs and lantern slides. Primarily documenting her studies and experiences at the University of Oxford in England during World War I and her writings in medieval studies.


Arranged in 6 series: Series 1. Correspondence. Series 2. Writings. Series 3. Biographical Information. Series 4. Die of Bookplate and Coat of Arms. Series 5. Photographs. Series 6. Lantern slides.

Summary of Correspondence

The collection includes four letters to her mother (since her mother died when Charlotte was about three, this is probably her step-mother) written during her year of public school teaching in California, 1912-13; one from Bryn Mawr in 1915; and then frequent letters addressed to her family starting with June 11, 1915 while en route to England on a graduate fellowship, and continuing through to the end of that calendar year. There are four more letters written from England between March 12 and April 2, 1916. All these early letters are signed Mina.

Included also are scattered letters after her year in England, beginning with the letter of her Mount Holyoke appointment (July 25, 1917) and ending with a letter from her nephew in 1972.

The letters from England begin with a description of sightseeing in Chester (she landed in Liverpool) and on to London where she spent most of the summer. From there she went on to Oxford in the fall, enrolling in some classes and working on her medieval manuscripts. She describes the life of an American graduate student at Oxford, the living arrangements, English customs, meetings with other students at frequent teas, dinner at Lady Margaret (Nov. 11), Thanksgiving (church, dinner, football - Nov. 28), the Boar's Head ceremony at Queen's College (Dec. 26).

All these letters reflect war-time conditions in Britain. Soldiers are everywhere. She reports on a recruiting meeting in London's Guildhall with Lord Kitchener and another at Oxford in the riding school with the Bishop of Oxford, Duke of Marlborough, etc. (July 11 and Oct. 4). There are blackouts, air raids, and bayonet practice on the Oxford meadows. The Oxford women students adopted a prisoner of war, with packages weekly (valued at 6s.) sent to the Continent, each containing four pounds of bread and other gifts (Nov. 21). She describes a hospital visit to a wounded soldier.

Her humor is nicely illustrated when writing about one of her first visits to the Bodleian. Sir F. Madan explained that D'Evelyn must be the old Latin name of Dublin. "I'll now be able to explain the name is not French...., but good old Irish and that our family came over with J. Caesar and founded the city of Dublin." (Oct. 10, 1915).

CR Ludwig

September 1987

D'Evelyn Papers, 1892-1982 (bulk 1915-1916)
Edited Full Draft
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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