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Theodore and Frances Titchener Baird Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MA.01013

Scope and Contents

The Theodore and Frances Titchener Baird Papers document the professional, personal, and literary lives of Theodore Baird and Frances Titchener Baird. The collection includes a large amount of incoming and outgoing correspondence to and from Theodore Baird. His correspondents include family members, former students, colleagues at Amherst College and other colleges and universities, and former colleagues who were involved in co-teaching his English 1-2 Freshman Composition course.

Also included in the collection are curriculum materials for the English courses that Baird taught, including assignments, exams, curriculum-related correspondence, and grade books. Some of the grade books are restricted by FERPA (the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act).

The collection also includes various writings by Theodore Baird, including apparently unpublished manuscripts, reprints of published journal articles, essays about Amherst College history, essays about the English language and teaching English, an essay about building his Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, and Baird’s submission for the 1978 Amherst College oral history project. Also included is a small amount of correspondence and publications from Frances Titchener Baird.

A significant portion of the collection consists of personal diaries kept by Theodore Baird and Frances Titchener Baird, which were added after the initial processing. Both Theodore and Frances Titchener wrote diary entries daily, with few exceptions, starting in 1932 and 1933 respectively.

Dates

  • 1901 - 1996
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1996

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Theodore and Frances Titchener Baird Papers for research use, save for three folders of gradebooks in the Curriculum Materials series. These gradebooks are restricted by FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Theodore and Frances Titchener Baird Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Theodore Baird (1901-1996) was born in Warren, Ohio, and attended Hobart College (B.A. 1921) and Harvard University (M.A. 1922; Ph.D. 1929). He served as a member of the Amherst College English faculty from 1927-1969. While at Amherst College, Baird developed the English 1-2 composition course, which had a new set of assignments each year and in which a whole semester’s focus would be on a question such as, “Where are you?” “What is a game?” and “What or who is your true self?” A book about the course, Fencing with Words: A history of writing instruction at Amherst College during the era of Theodore Baird, 1938-1966, written by Robin Varnum, was published in 1996. Baird was also a prolific diary and letter writer. Baird and his wife Frances commissioned a house from Frank Lloyd Wright, which was built in 1940 on Shays Street in Amherst and is the only house Wright built in Massachusetts. The house was built in Wright’s “Usonian” style, and included furniture that Wright custom-designed for the space. Baird died in December of 1996, less than a year after his wife Frances died.

Frances Titchener Baird (1900-1996), better known as “Bertie,” was born Frances Haliburton Titchener and grew up in Ithaca, NY. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wells College (1921) and a Ph.D. from Radcliffe College (1925). She taught for several years at Smith College as a professor of French Language and Literature. She was also a member of the Ladies of Amherst Club (later renamed the Amherst College Women). Frances, along with her husband Theodore, commissioned a house from Frank Lloyd Wright, which was built in 1940 on Shays Street in Amherst. She died in 1996, several months before her husband Theodore.

Extent

31.5 Linear feet (31 records storage boxes, 1 small flat box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Theodore and Frances Titchener Baird Papers document the personal and professional lives of Theodore Baird and Frances Titchener Baird, Theodore Baird's wife. Theodore Baird served as an Amherst College English professor from 1927-1969, and much of the collection consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence between Baird, and his Amherst College affiliates. Also included is a small amount of papers from Frances Titchener Baird. A significant portion of the collection was added after the initial processing, and consists of personal diaries written daily by Theodore Baird and Frances Titchener Baird starting in 1932 and 1933 respectively.

Arrangement

The papers are organized into 6 series:
  1. Series 1: Incoming Mail to Theodore Baird, 1922-1996
  2. Series 2: Outgoing Mail from Theodore Baird, 1931-1996
  3. Series 3: Curriculum Materials, 1929-1984
  4. Series 4: Essays, Articles and Manuscripts, circa 1936-1990
  5. Series 5: Frances Titchener Baird Materials, 1913-1990
  6. Series 6: Diaries, 1932-1996

Custodial History

This is an artificial collection. Some of the material in the collection was donated by Theodore Baird and his heirs, Paula and Walter Auclair. Many of Baird’s friends and former students donated correspondence from him to the Amherst College archives after his death, and these have primarily been integrated into the Outgoing Mail series. Some of the material in this collection was previously filed in the Amherst College Non-Alumni Biographical File and in the Amherst College Department of English Records.

The diaries of Theodore Baird and Frances Titchener Baird were recieved from relatives of Frances Titchener Baird in 2019. These diaries were added as Series 6, and the finding aid was updated throughout to reflect the addition.

Related Materials

  1. Amherst College English Department Records, 1879-1977, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  2. Amherst College Oral History Project Records, 1978-1982, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  3. Frances Titchener Baird in Amherst College Women Records, 1912-1976, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  4. John Jay Chapman Letters to Theodore Baird and Other Papers (bMS Am 2286). Houghton Library, Harvard University
  5. Merrill-Magowan Family Papers, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections [Letters from James Merrill to Theodore Baird are included in this collection]
  6. Theodore Baird Materials in Robert Frost Collection, 1887-2008 (Bulk: 1920-1963), Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  7. Theodore Baird Materials in Richard P. Wilbur (AC 1942) Papers, ca. 1945-2005, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  8. Theodore Baird materials in Rolfe Humphries Papers, 1896-1992 (Bulk: 1915-1969), Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  9. Theodore Baird materials in Stephen Rodefer papers, 1955-1994, M693, Stanford University Special Collections
  10. Theodore Baird in Non-Alumni Biographical Files, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  11. William E. Kennick Papers, 1947-2009, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections

Processing Information

Most of the diaries in Subseries 6 were bound by the creators in expandable plastic binders. During processing these diaries were unbound and removed from their plastic binders for preservation. The original arrangement of the diaries was maintained.

Creator

Status
Completed
Author
Claire Lobdell, Merrill Project Archivist (updated by Elliott Hadwin, AC 2019)
Date
December 2013 (updated April 2019)
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
This work was funded by a grant from the Hellen Ingram Plummer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299