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Mary Jean Simpson Papers

Identifier: mss-500

Scope and Content Note

The Mary Jean Simpson Papers document her personal and professional activities and provide significant insight into the history and development of civic, educational, and religious associations both within the state of Vermont as well as nationally and internationally.

The papers consist primarily of Simpson’s correspondence, which includes greeting cards and letters exchanged with close friends and family members, and professional correspondence related to the numerous offices and memberships she held throughout her lifetime. The Simpson papers also contain articles, diaries, family records, financial documents, miscellaneous printed material, newspaper clippings, notes, phonograph records, photographs, reports, scrapbooks, and other materials pertaining to Simpson’s personal life and involvement in public affairs.

The professional series is arranged into sub-series for each organization.

Simpson’s interests in education, civic, and religious engagement are well-documented in the materials covering her work in the Alcohol Education Commission, the American Association of University Women, the Governor’s Committee on Aging, the Vermont Legislative Council, the Vermont Chapter of the United Council of Church Women, and the Women’s Missionary Society.

Simpson’s involvement with numerous Vermont state committees, and her engagement in civic affairs pertaining to her hometown of East Craftsbury, Vermont are well-documented. The Simpson papers also provide a wealth of source materials for study on national topics such as the Republican Party, the Civil Rights Commission, and the Works Progress Administration. Of particular importance is Simpson’s role as Bill Clerk of U.S. Senate (1926-1933), the first woman ever appointed to the staff of the Secretary of the Senate.

The papers contain extensive correspondence with Simpson’s close personal friend James M. Anderson, as well as professional correspondence with Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Marion Gray.

Users should be aware that there may be some overlap in materials found in the personal and professional series. See also the Related Materials Note.


  • 1864-1980



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Jean Simpson was born in East Craftsbury, Vermont, on July 18th, 1888. She attended Craftsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury Academy, Wheaton Seminary, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Vermont, where she received the Ph.B. degree in 1913. She taught in Montpelier and Morrisville schools and became principal of Peoples Academy (Morrisville) in 1918. She studied at Columbia University and taught in Vermont and New York high schools in the early 1920s. A member of the Republican Party, she was elected as Craftsbury representative to the Vermont General Assembly in 1924, where she served on the Fish and Game and the Military Committees. From 1926 to 1933, Miss Simpson was Bill Clerk of the United States Senate, the first woman ever to have been appointed to the staff of the Secretary of the Senate. Later, she served the YWCA as financial secretary, then headed the Women's Division of the Civil Works Administration and of the WPA, from which she resigned to become UVM Dean of Women in 1937. She served in that position for 17 years, retiring in 1955. During World War II, she established the Mary Jean Simpson Scholarship Fund, which was used for loans and a tutoring program for returning veterans. In November 1955, she laid the cornerstone of UVM's new women's dorm, the central building of which bears her name. Her many offices and memberships include: Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Alpha Theta, Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, National Education Association, Vermont Women Teachers Association, Vermont Recreation Council, Vermont Historical Society, member of the Board of Managers of the National Council of Church Women and president of its Vermont chapter, chair of the State Commission on Alcohol Education, chair of the Vermont Council on Adult Education, consultant to the State Council of the YWCA, member of the Vermont Legislative Council, and member of the Executive Board of the Council on World Affairs. Upon retiring, Miss Simpson returned to her home in East Craftsbury, where she remained active in state and civic affairs until her death in 1977.


21 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Mary Jean Simpson (1888-1977) was the first woman to serve in the office of the Secretary of the Senate and the third Dean of Women at UVM, a position she held for 17 years. The collection contains correspondence, diaries, family records, financial documents, miscellaneous printed material, newspaper clippings, notes, photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials generated by her extensive professional memberships and associations, which document Simpson's political, educational, civic, and religious affiliations.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

Related collections also at University of Vermont Special Collections include The American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Papers, Church Women United (Vermont) [previously known as United Council of Church Women], and the Vice President for Student Affairs (Dean of Students) records (record group 5).



Guide to the Mary Jean Simpson Papers
2017 May 23
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)