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Genieve Lamson Papers

Identifier: mss-983

Scope and Content

The collection is in strict chronological order, with certain exceptions. Two diaries written in 1909 and 1910 were placed for convenience in one folder at the end of 1909; an oversize photograph of the University of Vermont Class of 1904 is at the end of carton one; Genieve Lamson's master's thesis, completed in September 1922, was placed at the end of that year; and a group of Christmas newsletters written by Genieve from 1955 to 1965 have been placed together at the end of the dated folders, in carton four.

Since many of the letters had been separated from their envelopes before the collection was processed, an unusually large number are undated. An attempt was made to date as much of this correspondence as possible, by comparing statements made in them with known events in the Lamson family lives. Letters with estimated dates have been placed at the end of the relevant time period.


  • 1821-1990



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.

Historical Note

The Genieve Lamson papers contain the correspondence and memorabilia of members of the Lamson family of Randolph, Vermont. Much of it is written by or to Genieve during her years as a teacher of high school geography and business subjects in New Jersey from 1909 to 1915, as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Chicago from 1915 to 1922, and at Vassar College from 1923 to 1953. Genieve's two sisters Gail Lamson (1883-1967) and Grace Brooks (1879-1953), along with their mother Amelia (1843-1919), were long-time participants in one of several letter round-robins of which Genieve was part. Others involved Genieve's friends and cousins.

This collection will be of particular interest to the student of women's history. Each of the Lamson sisters followed a different life course: Genieve chose a more nontraditional path, earning the degree of Master of Science in geography that led to a professorship at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Her sister Gail, like Genieve, never married; but Gail remained at home to care for her ailing mother and to assist her father in the family furniture store. Grace, the oldest, married and raised a family in Washington, D.C. The letters are full of the details of each woman's life and that of their women friends; thus, the collection is a rich source for the study of middle class women's lives in America during the first three decades of the twentieth century.

Genieve was a student at the University of Chicago at a time when Marion Talbot (1859-1945), noted educator and co-founder of the American Association of University Women, was Dean of Women there. Lamson's letters describe the life of a woman college student at that time and frequently mentioned Talbot. Their contact continued after Lamson's graduation, as several letters from Talbot indicate.

The Lamson sisters Gail and Genieve, particularly the latter, were inveterate travelers and the collection is full of descriptions of their voyages. In 1909, Genieve travelled alone to California and the Pacific Northwest; in 1912, she and Gail and other friends spent several weeks in Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy; and in 1915 they visited Bermuda.

Genieve was an active suffragist, as she frequently mentions in her letters. In 1916, she received a letter from Vermont Congressman Frank L. Greene expressing his opposition to the Susan B. Anthony Suffrage Amendment. In 1919, she was appointed by the Vermont Suffragist Association to chair the Orange County (VT) suffragist convention.

In 1931, Genieve was chosen by the Vermont Commission on Country Life to perform research on the agricultural populations of several Vermont towns. Numerous letters from 1931 and 1932 refer to her publication resulting from this work.

The papers contain other material of interest. Genieve's brother Guy (1877-1941) spent several years in Cuba in the first decade of the twentieth century in the real estate and lumbering businesses and as an employee of the United Fruit Company. His letters and those of Dean (last name unknown) and a cousin, Ben Phllbrick, both engineers working in Mexico from approximately 1908 to 1915, provide detailed descriptions of the political unrest in those countries and of North American attitudes towards local inhabitants.

Both World Wars are mentioned in the letters of the period. Letters from Grace Brooks, in particular, reveal the anti-German sentiment of some Americans during the first War. There are also accounts of that war from two men in the Army: Robert Guy Buzzard, a college friend of Genieve, describes his experiences in Army training camps and in the Army Ambulance Service in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Waco, Texas in 1917 and 1918; and there are several letters from "Ave.", last name unknown, to his mother from the war front somewhere in France in July, 1917. Other letters describe life in Honolulu, Hawaii during World War II; and there is V-mail from Lamson family members serving in the armed forces.

All of the Lamson women were avid seamstresses and their letters are full of descriptions of dressmaking, including sketches of styles and some perfectly preserved cloth samples ca. 1918 (folders 3-30 and 3-31) and a sample of silk, undated, probably early twentieth century (folder 4-56).

The collection contains two folk remedies for the treatment of cancer using wild roots and tree barks, undated, probably late nineteenth century (folder 1-13).

Some of the earliest material is land deeds dating from mostly belonging to the Philbrick and Walsh families in the Boston area. There are letters to and from W. E. Lamson and Amelia Lamson, parents of Genieve, from 1864 to the end of the nineteenth century which reveal their affectionate but undemonstrative relationship. Throughout the collection are numerous wedding and graduation invitations, funeral announcements, and other ephemera which mark the passage of nineteenth and early twentieth century life.


4 Linear Feet (4 cartons)

Language of Materials



The Genieve Lamson papers contain the correspondence and memorabilia of members of the Lamson family of Randolph, Vermont.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

The W.E. Lamson and Son Co. Records, also at UVM Special Collections, document the business activities of Genieve Lamson's father, Whitcomb, and brother, Guy.

Guide to the Genieve Lamson Papers, 1821-1990
Processor: S. Bugbee.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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)