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Richard (AC 1952) and Josephine Haskell Aldridge Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MA.01017

Scope and Contents

The Richard (AC 1952) and Josephine Haskell Aldridge Papers consist of approximately 13.5 linear feet of material.

Richard Aldridge's writing is represented in several series in this collection. The Poetry Amherst papers document an anthology of poetry by Amherst College graduates that Aldridge edited in 1972 on the occasion of the college's 150th anniversary. Series 2, Writings, includes a series of notebooks that Aldridge kept between 1948 and 1993. These notebooks are a combination of poetry, prose, and quotes from other writers that Aldridge collected for inspiration, as well as drafts of his own writing. Also included in this series are handwritten books of poetry that Aldridge gave as presents to family members, as well as handmade books and cards created by his wife, Josephine Haskell Aldridge, that contain poetry by Richard Aldridge. This series also includes publications by both Aldridges, as well as business records and correspondence related to publications.

There are also writings by Richard Aldridge in series 3, which includes copies of various school newspapers that he wrote for, along with some of his schoolwork.

Included in series 4, Correspondence, are copies of poems that he sent to others, along with scrapbooks his mother compiled that include correspondence, poetry, and other writings by him. There is also some childhood writing of Aldridge's in Series 5, Subject Files, along with copies of a shipboard newspaper he wrote while in the Army, entitled The Daily Barnacle.

Documentation from Aldridge's days at Amherst College, including documents and photographs of the Lord Jeffrey Amherst Club, can be found in Series 3, R.B.A.'s Schoolwork, Records, and Memorabilia, as well series 6, Photographs, which includes a photo album of Amherst.

A large segment of the correspondence (Series 4) comes from files that were maintained by Richard Aldridge's mother, Nancy Symington Aldridge. Among these is a folder of letters that Nancy Symington sent to her father, John Symington, when she was a child at boarding school in India. Symington Aldridge's files also include correspondence she received from Richard, along with some correspondence about him (e.g., from school headmasters), and some carbon-copies and drafts of letters she sent to him. In addition, there are three scrapbooks that she maintained about him from childhood onward.

Richard Aldridge had a tempestuous relationship with novelist Janet Burroway, to whom he was engaged sometime between 1956 and 1957. A large amount of the correspondence between Richard Aldridge and his parents between 1956 and 1958 are emotional letters with disagreements about Burroway and Aldridge's finances.

Just as they disapproved of Aldridge's relationship with Burroway, his parents also disapproved of the woman who would became his wife, Josephine Haskell Aldridge. This led to several verbal confrontations between the parties, and their letters back and forth over the years catalog long-simmering slights and resentments.

Josephine Haskell Aldridge was still married to her first husband, E. Seward Stevens, when she reconnected with Richard Aldridge in the late 1950s (the two had known each other as children when Aldridge and his brother attended a summer camp run by the Haskell family). In order to secure an expeditious divorce from Stevens, Josephine Haskell flew to Reno, NV, and lived there for six weeks in a boarding house with other people seeking divorces. (At the time, Reno was known as the divorce capital of the country because of its six-week residency requirement and liberal laws.) Josephine and Richard sent each other multiple letters each day during this period, and their correspondence from that time is preserved in the collection.

The collection also includes letters Richard Aldridge sent to his aunt Jean Symington from childhood through adulthood. In these and correspondence to others he often enclosed artwork and draft poetry that he was working on at the time.

Aldridge corresponded with a number of other writers and notables, including poets Kate Barnes, James Hayford (AC 1935), and Richard Wilbur (AC 1942); children's book author Elizabeth Coatsworth; South African Constitutional Court justice Laurie Ackermann (a friend of Aldridge's from Worcester College, Oxford); and British MP Robert MacLennan.

The photographs in the collection are primarily a combination of snapshots from Richard Aldridge's childhood and schooling, photographic portraits of various family members, and photographs that he took while stationed in Germany during the mid-1950s.

Series 7, Realia, contains items owned by Aldridge, primary at his home in Maine.


  • Creation: 1898 - 2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1994


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Richard (AC 1952) and Josephine Haskell Aldridge Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes. This collection is housed in off-site storage and requires advance notice before use. Please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Richard (AC 1952) and Josephine Haskell Aldridge 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

Richard B. Aldridge (AC 1952) was born in 1930 and raised in New York City, the son of Nancy Symington Aldridge, a nurse, and Albert Aldridge, a surgeon. He had one sibling, an other brother John. Richard Aldridge graduated from Deerfield Academy and went on to Amherst College where he majored in English and was awarded the Colin Armstrong Poetry Prize. After graduating in 1952, he worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1952-1953. Aldridge was drafted into the Army in 1953 and served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1955. He won a Fulbright Fellowship to Worcester College in Oxford University, where he studied from 1955 to 1957 and earned a the equivalent of a master's degree in English language and literature. In 1958, he married Josephine Haskell, whom he had known since childhood, and they moved to a farmhouse she owned on the coast of Maine. In 1959, he began a career as a high school English instructor, teaching at Morse High School and the Hyde School, both in Bath, Maine. Aldridge retired from teaching in 1985 to focus on poetry.

Aldridge wrote and published poetry throughout his lifetime, including An apology both ways (1957), Down through the clouds, the sea (1963), The wild white rose; poems (1974), Red pine, black ash (1980) and Driving North (1989). Richard and Josephine Aldridge co-wrote a children's book Reasons and raisins in 1972. He also edited poetry anthologies including Maine lines: 101 contemporary poems about Maine (1970), Poetry Amherst (1972), and Speaking of New England (1993). His family self-published a posthumous collection of his works in 2001, The Poems of Richard Aldridge. Aldridge and Josephine had one daughter together, Abigail, and he also helped to raise his three step-children, Seward, Diana, and Karen. Aldridge died in 1994.

Josephine Haskell Aldridge was born in 1921 in New York City, the daughter of artist and etcher Ernest Haskell and his wife Emma Haskell. The Haskells purchased land in Maine, where Josephine's mother operated a summer camp after her husband's death. It was here that the young Richard Aldridge met Josephine, and was also where they would move together years later after their marriage. She graduated from Morse High School in Bath, Maine in 1938 and from the Portland School of Fine and Applied Arts (later renamed Maine College of Art). She worked for several years as an book illustrator and art teacher in New York City, and also painted and wrote poetry. In 1958, she married Richard Aldridge and they moved to Maine with her three children, Seward, Diana, and Karen Stevens. In 1959, she gave birth to another daughter, Abigail Aldridge.

Josephine Haskell Aldridge authored several books for children, including A penny and a periwinkle (1961), The best of friends (1963), Fisherman's luck (1966), A possible tree (1993), The Pocket Book (1993). She also co-wrote the book Reasons and raisins (1972) with Richard Aldridge. She died in 2009.


13.5 Linear feet (8 records cartons, 4 flat oversize boxes, 2 archives boxes, one small objects box)

Language of Materials



Papers documenting the life of poet Richard Aldridge and his wife, children's author Josephine Haskell Aldridge. Material in the collection includes draft and unpublished writings by Richard Aldridge from childhood on; publication-related materials; a large amount of correspondence from family members and other writers; documentation from the various schools that Richard Aldridge attended, including photographs and memorabilia from Amherst College; and photographs, primarily of Richard Aldridge's childhood and his time in the U.S. Army in Germany in the mid-1950s.


The collection is organized into 7 series:

  1. Series 1: Poetry Amherst Papers
  2. Series 2: Writings
  3. Series 3: Richard Aldridge's Schoolwork, Records, and Memorabilia
  4. Series 4: Correspondence
  5. Series 5: Subject Files
  6. Series 6: Photographs
  7. Series 7: Realia

Custodial History

The first series in this collection, the Poetry Amherst papers, was donated to Amherst College by Richard Aldridge in 1978 and was previously its own collection. The rest of the collection was donated in five separate accessions. The first of these was in 1994, shortly after Aldridge's death. The next four accessions were donated in 2013 by Richard and Josephine Aldridge's daughters Abigail Aldridge and Karen Stevens Jorgensen. Because the later accessions came after both parents' deaths, they included some materials that may have been maintained about the Aldridges, rather than by them. Also, in many cases the original order was no longer discernable so an aritificial order has been imposed.

Related Materials

  1. Richard B. Aldridge (AC 1952) in Alumni Biographical Files. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.
  2. Rolfe Humphries (AC 1915) Papers. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.
  3. Richard P. Wilbur (AC 1942) Papers. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.
  4. Ernest Haskell papers, 1892-1976. Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. [Ernest Haskell was the father of Josephine Haskell Aldridge]



Claire Lobdell, Merrill Project Archivist
February 2014
Language of description
Script of description
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

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