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Marion Bassett papers

Identifier: MSS-005

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the papers of Marion Bassett, an alumna of Wellesley College's Class of 1916, dating from 1913-1977. Series I. Schoolwork (1906-1916) consists of Marion Bassett’s course materials from her studies at Wellesley College, and includes class notes, a psychology study, and zoological drawings. Also includes schoolwork from grammar school, such as class papers, notebooks, drawings, and a cookbook. Series II. Professional Activities and Writing (1917-1980) consists of documentation of Bassett’s professional activities and writings. This includes professional correspondence, records of conferences and related travels, pamphlets, memoranda, mailings, meeting minutes and programs from organizations that Bassett was a member of, most relating to reproductive rights, marriage, and the family. This series also includes: promotional materials, manuscript drafts and notes for Bassett’s 1961 book A New Sex Ethics and Marriage Structure; manuscript drafts, notes and correspondence regarding an unpublished novel titled Seahorse Fever; articles by Bassett, and news coverage of Bassett’s career. Series III. Publications Used for Research and Accompanying Notes (1921-1975) consists of publications used in Bassett’s sociological research, with accompanying notes and annotations. To preserve Bassett’s original organization, some event materials and correspondence that were enclosed with the publications have not been separated, and overlap with Series II. The series includes academic articles, government statistics and bulletins, and publications put out by organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the National League of Women Voters. Series IV. Personal Writing, Correspondence, and Memorabilia (1908-1980) includes diaries spanning more than 30 years, correspondence with family and friends, and memorabilia (relating to Bassett's time at Wellesley College, and to her travels).


  • 1906-1980


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. To make an appointment to view materials, please contact the Archives staff by email at or by phone at (781) 283-3745.

Conditions Governing Use

The Wellesley College Archives welcomes researchers to use materials in the public domain, to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law, and to request permission to use works whose copyright is held by Wellesley College. All materials from the Archives, regardless of copyright status, should be attributed to the Wellesley College Archives, Library and Technology Services when cited, quoted, or reproduced.

Biographical / Historical

Marion Preston Bassett (married surname Luitweiler) was born June 24, 1894, in Brooklyn, New York, and passed away June 11, 1987. She was the daughter of Edward M. and Annie (Preston) Bassett (her father was a U.S. Representative for New York from 1903-1905) and had two brothers, Howard Murray Bassett and Preston Rogers Bassett, and two sisters, Isabel Bassett Wasson and Helen Bassett Hauser. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Psychology from Wellesley College in 1916. Her mother, aunt, two sisters, and four nieces also attended Wellesley College. She continued her post-graduate studies in Education and Psychology at Columbia University from 1920-1921 and 1942-1943. She studied at the New School for Social Research (NYC) in Writing from 1938-1939 and Psychology in 1949. She also took a Russian History and Civilization course at Cornell University in 1944. She participated in the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at Middlebury College (Vermont) the summer of 1947, and served on the Board of Directors for the “Wellesley Institute for Social Progress” which offered 2-week conferences in the summers, and attended for 11 of the 20 years the Institute was active (1933-1953). She married a year after graduating from Wellesley College in 1917 to James Cornelius Luitweiler and divorced from him in 1942. After divorcing she retook her maiden name, which she also used in her writings. She had two sons, Preston (born 1918) and James (born 1920). She worked as a free-lance, self-employed writer and researcher in sociology. She was a member of the Author’s League of America (1960-1963), and was included in the first and second editions of “Who’s Who of American Women.” She was one of the co-founders of the American Association of Marriage Counselors (1943-circa 1970), a member of the executive committee of the League for Industrial Democracy of New York City, a member of the Tri-State Council on Family Relations (and its president from 1947-1948), as well as the chairman of finance of the Planned Parenthood Foundation of the State of New Jersey (1939-1942). She co-authored the book “The Family and Democratic Society” (1934) and authored “A New Sex Ethics and Marriage Structure Discussed by Adam and Eve” (1961), as well as many articles, and conducted a study on mothers through the Sociology Department of Vassar College (1940). She wrote on a Wellesley College alumnae survey regarding her education: “I have done enough studying and writing to get PhD., but was interested in women and the family so took the courses helpful in [the] area. No professor I consulted could see that this subject was a proper one for PhD degree and was willing to have me work under his guidance for this degree. Today many professors think differently since the widespread women’s liberation movement has risen in our country and many others.”


10.2 Linear Feet (26 document boxes)


This collection is arranged in 4 series: Series I. Schoolwork, 1906-1916, Series II. Professional Activities and Writing, 1917-1980, Series III. Publications Used for Research and Accompanying Notes, 1921-1975, and Series IV. Personal Writing, Correspondence, and Memorabilia, 1908-1980. Collection is physically kept in original order (the first 1977 accession takes the first 5 boxes, and the second 1983 accession is in the following 21 boxes), and was arranged intellectually into the four series above by the processor, Project Archivist Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were given to the Wellesley College Archives by Marion Bassett in two separate accessions, the first in September, 1977, and the second in March, 1983.

Processing Information

Processed by: Natalia Gutierrez-Jones, Project Archivist. Date: December 2019. Collection comes from a 1977 accession and a 1983 accession. Materials were rehoused into archival folders and boxes, but kept in original order. Folder titles were informed by Bassett's original titles and notes. Intellectual arrangement supplied by Project Archivist.
Bassett, Marion Preston, 1894-1987. Marion Bassett Papers, 1913-1977: a guide
In Progress
Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones, Project Archivist
2019 November 27
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository