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Martha Stifler Waller papers

Identifier: MS 0833

Scope and Contents

The Martha Stifler Waller Papers, 1941-1945, contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs. Most of the collection consists of letters that she wrote to her parents while working at the War Department in Washington, D.C. from 1942-1944. She discusses taking an oath of confidentiality, the demanding hours, her rate of pay, and some of her colleagues. She also discusses her living arrangements, movies and concerts that she attended as well as her relationship with George Macgregor Waller and the early months of her marriage. Newspaper clippings in the collection concern her engagement in 1943, while photographs (including a formal portrait) date from her senior year at Mount Holyoke, 1941.


  • Creation: 1941-1945

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Use of the collection is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.).

Biographical Note

Martha Huntington Stifler Waller, an alumna of Mount Holyoke College and a professor of English, was born on June 27, 1920 in Peking, China to William Warren Stifler, a physics professor, and Susan Martha Reed, a 1907 graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She attended Amherst, Massachusetts High School from 1933-1935 and Washington Hall of Brussels Belgium from 1935-1937. She graduated from Mount Holyoke summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature in 1941. She was a recipient of the Sarah Williston Prize in 1939 and 1940 and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1940. She attended Columbia University from 1941-1942, receiving a M.A. in English. In August of 1942, Waller began working in Washington, D.C. for the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in the War Department, doing research and data analysis. On October 16, 1943 she married Ensign George MacGregor Waller who worked as a supply officer and an outfitter. She resigned from the War Department on August 17, 1944 and moved to New York with her husband. The Wallers had three daughters and two sons. In 1962, she co-authored a book titled Cloak and Cipher. She returned to school in 1968 and obtained a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University in 1973. Her dissertation work was supported by the Mary E. Woolley Fellowship. Her book, Chaucer and the History of Rome was published in 1973. She taught at Indiana Central College and Butler University, where her husband also taught history. She retired from Butler as the Demia Butler Professor of English in 1985, the year that her book Peace and Patience at the Temple of Venus: Chaucers Parlement of Fowls was published.


1 boxes (Class of 1941)

Language of Materials



Waller, Martha Huntington Stifler, 1920- ; Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1941. Papers contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs primarily documenting her professional and personal life during World War II when she worked in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in the War Department.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. Correspondence (June 1942-November 1945)
  2. Biographical Information (1943)
  3. Photographs (1941)


The correspondence, biographical information, and photographs are arranged chronologically.

Processing Information

The papers were processed by Crystal L. Johnson, 2005.

Martha Stifler Waller Papers, 1941-1945
Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Crystal L. Johnson.
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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