COLLECTION GUIDES

1859-1979

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Hilda Chase Foster papers are stored offsite and must be requested at least one business day in advance. Contact the Library at library@masshist.org or (617) 536-1608 to request materials. Please discuss your request with the reading room staff before requesting cartons by barcode.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the papers of Hilda Chase Foster, 1859-1979, collected by Anne Farlow Morris while compiling Foster's memoir, including family and business correspondence, writings, travel notebooks, passports, recipes, membership cards and certificates, newspaper clippings, sound recordings, and ephemera including calling cards, invitations, tickets, and ration materials.

Biographical Sketches

Hilda Chase Foster

Hilda Chase Foster (1891-1974) was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster (1859-1955) and Mabel Chase Hill Foster (1864-1925). She was the fourth of nine children. Her siblings were Charles O. (1887-1933), Catherine H. (1888-1975), Reginald C. (1889-1945), Edith H. (1893-1977), Ruth M. (1894-1896), Caroline W. (b. 1896), Barbara (1899-1952), and John W. (1907-1913).

The family moved from Brookline to Charles River Village in Needham, Mass. in 1901. Their home became known as Castle Farm. Hilda attended school in Chestnut Hill until the age of twelve when she transferred to Miss Winsor's School on Beacon Street in Boston. After attending Miss Low and Miss Heywood's School in Stamford, Conn., Hilda made her debut on 7 Oct. 1910.

Hilda's parents maintained a summer home in Marblehead, Mass. for many years, and her father was the owner of numerous yachts and sailing vessels. Hilda and her siblings grew up around the water and were all avid sailors.

In 1915, Hilda's brother Reginald went to Germany and Poland. He was employed by the Rockefeller Foundation and organized the care of orphans during World War I. He eventually joined the Red Cross in Europe and convinced Hilda to do the same. She joined at the end of World War I and arrived in Paris on Armistice Day, 11 Nov. 1918. She remained abroad for some time, performing various Red Cross service jobs in France, Germany, and Poland. Reginald remained in Europe as well, and the two saw each other and traveled on occasion.

After Hilda returned to the United States, she was briefly engaged to a man named "Bill" Wanton Dunnell. He was a family friend Hilda met in Squam Lake, N.H. The engagement was called off, and Hilda never married, but Wanton's mother, Mrs. W. W. Dunnell, remained her traveling companion, close friend, and correspondent.

Hilda spent a great part of the 1920s and 1930s traveling. She spent time in Westmeath, Ireland, where she took part in fox hunting, and from 1934-1935, she embarked on a trek through Kashmir, traveled throughout Asia, and visited Australia and New Zealand.

When war was declared in Europe in 1939, Hilda returned to work as an ambulance driver in Cambridge, England. Her brother Reginald also returned to Europe.

Upon her return to the United States in 1942, she continued her work for the war effort. She worked on the assembly line at the Hood Rubber Company in Watertown, Mass. and at the Commercial Filters Corporation in Boston.

In 1957, she made her home in Norwich, Vt., where she died of natural causes in 1974.

Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill Foster

Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster was born in 1859 in Brookline, Mass. He was the second son of Charles Orin Foster and Caroline Blanchard Candler Foster. The family briefly lived in Cuba, but returned to Brookline, where Caroline gave birth to three daughters.

His father was president of Oriental Powder Mills and president of the Boston Sugar Refinery Company.

Charles went to the William N. Eayrs School in Brookline and then to Harvard, where he graduated in 1881. He immediately entered his father's business, rising to become superintendent of the sugar refinery. He was a sportsman at college and a lifelong sailing and polo enthusiast. He died in 1955.

Mabel Hill was born in 1864, one of four daughters of William Henry Hill and Catherine Cogswell Chase Hill. Her father was a director of the First National Bank of Boston and a railroad investor. Mabel died in 1925.

Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill were married on 7 Oct. 1885 at Saint Paul's Church in Brookline, Mass.

Please note the family tree on pages 224-225 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Sources

Morris, Anne Farlow. The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster. 1982.

The Overseas War Record of the Winsor School, 1914-1919.

Collection Description

The Hilda Chase Foster papers, 1859-1979, consist of 4 record cartons. The collection includes personal correspondence, business correspondence, travel notebooks, newspaper clippings, recipes, address books, writings, financial materials, recordings, and ephemeral memorabilia of Hilda Chase Foster and her family.

These papers were gathered to supply information for The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster, written by Anne Farlow Morris, a grandniece of Hilda Chase Foster. The memoir was privately printed in 1982 for the Foster family and their friends. A copy of the memoir is in the print collection of the MHS.

The bulk of the papers in this collection consist of Hilda's personal correspondence, including letters to and from family members, friends, and acquaintances throughout the course of her life. This correspondence and other papers span Hilda's childhood, Red Cross service jobs in Europe during World War I, work as an ambulance driver in England during World War II, and travels through Ireland, Asia, and Australia.

The collection also includes papers of Hilda's parents, Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Chase Hill Foster. They include correspondence from early in their marriage and from their young children, papers relating to their wedding, writings, recipes, newspaper clippings, and financial materials.

Acquisition Information

The papers of Hilda Chase Foster were given to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Anne Farlow Morris, May 2001, with later additions.

Restrictions on Access

The Hilda Chase Foster papers are stored offsite and must be requested at least one business day in advance. Contact the Library at library@masshist.org or (617) 536-1608 to request materials. Please discuss your request with the reading room staff before requesting cartons by barcode.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill Foster papers, 1859-1956

Arranged chronologically by type.

This series contains correspondence, school papers, wedding papers, recipes, household lists, passports and licenses, address books, a calendar and memo book, clippings, ephemera, and printed materials of Hilda Chase Foster's parents, Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill Foster, as well as some materials of her paternal and maternal grandparents, Charles Orin Foster, Caroline Blanchard Candler Foster, William Henry Hill, and Catherine Cogswell Chase Hill. This series primarily corresponds to chapters 1 and 2 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Personal correspondence consists of early letters between Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill Foster, as well as from various family members and friends, before and during the early years of their marriage; from Hilda Chase Foster and Reginald Foster to their parents as children; and between Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster and Mabel Hill Foster in the 1920s. Business correspondence contains letters to and from Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster, mostly relating to his estate.

School papers include assignments and report cards from Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster's time at the William N. Eayrs school in Brookline, Mass. and the Chauncy Hall School. Wedding papers include bills, invoices, invitations, congratulatory notes, a book of names and addresses of people presumably invited to the wedding, and a gift registry book. Ephemera consist of invitations, calling cards, tickets, and quilting patterns.

Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 1-3
Personal correspondence, 1873-1925
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 4-5
Business correspondence, 1881-1956
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 6
School papers and report cards, 1870-1877
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 7
Wedding papers, 1883-1885
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 8
Wedding list book, 1885
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 8
Wedding gift book, 1884-1885
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 9
Writings and drawings, 1885-1955
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 10
Recipes
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 11
Household lists
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 12
Passports and licenses, 1882, 1922, 1928
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 13
Address books
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 14
Calendar/memoranda book, 1859
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 15
Newspaper clippings
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 16
Ephemera (invitations), 1880-1955
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 17
Ephemera (calling cards)
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 18
Ephemera (tickets), 1876-1902
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 19
Ephemera (quilting patterns)
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 20
Printed materials, 1885-1941

II. Hilda Chase Foster papers, 1889-1974

This series is organized in nine subseries. The first six subseries correspond to periods in Hilda Chase Foster's life and are as follows: childhood, World War I, the 1920s and 1930s, World War II, 1946-1956, and Norwich, Vermont. Anne Farlow Morris, Hilda Chase Foster's grandniece, arranged the series in this manner as she used the collection to write The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster, which was published in 1982. Three additional series include miscellaneous correspondence and papers, recordings, and a birthday scrapbook.

A. Childhood papers, 1889-1921

Arranged chronologically by type.

This subseries contains correspondence to and from Hilda Chase Foster while at Miss Low and Miss Heywood's School in Stamford, Conn., as well as from family vacations. Invitations and announcements pertain to the 1910-1911 debutante teas, ball, and coming out of Hilda Chase Foster and her peers. A personal expense account book intermittently lists Hilda's expenses, primarily for clothing, from 1895-1912. See also the Hilda Chase Foster fabric book, 1897-1899, which was removed to the MHS museum collection. This subseries corresponds to chapters 3-7 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 21-26
Correspondence, 1889-1921
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 27-29
Invitations and announcements, 1910-1911
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 30
Personal expense account book, 1895-1912
Carton 1SH 14JS BFolder 31
School notebook, 1901-1904

B. World War I papers, 1915-1919

Arranged chronologically by type.

This subseries includes Hilda Chase Foster's correspondence over the course of World War I, primarily with her mother Mabel and her brother Reginald Foster. In 1915, Reginald went to Europe to help in the war effort. Hilda followed, arriving on Armistice Day, to work for the Red Cross. This subseries also includes writings and poems regarding World War I given to Hilda by servicemen whom she met, as well as by her brother Reginald.

The subseries also includes address books, calling cards, passports and birth certificates, Red Cross vaccinations and certifications, and ephemera. It corresponds to chapters 7-8 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 1-8
Correspondence, 1915-1919
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 9
Writings
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 10
Address books and calling cards
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 11
Passports and birth certificates, 1917-1919
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 12
Red Cross vaccinations and certifications, 1915-1919
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 13
Ephemera

C. 1920s and 1930s papers, 1921-1938

Arranged chronologically by type.

After World War I, Hilda returned to live with her family in Charles River (Needham), Mass. Personal correspondence from 1921-1926 includes letters exchanged with family members, and in 1922, correspondence with William "Wanton" Dunnell, to whom Hilda was briefly engaged that year. This time period also marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and correspondence with Dunnell's mother, Mrs. W. W. Dunnell. Condolences on the passing of her mother Mabel Hill Foster comprise much of the correspondence from 1925.

The correspondence also pertains to Hilda's overseas travels. On a trip to Westmeath, Ireland, in the early 1930s, she took part in fox hunting, and in England, on 11 May 1932, she was presented at court at Buckingham Palace. In 1934-1936, she traveled to India, other parts of Asia, and Australia. The correspondence from this time is mainly to her friend Tony Bryan, whom she met in her European travels, and her family.

This subseries also includes two travel notebooks, condolence calling cards, bills and receipts, newspaper clippings, a passport and permits, printed material, and various ephemera. The travel notebooks, which span the 1930s and the 1950s, are organized roughly alphabetically and contain addresses of places Hilda Chase Foster stayed and people she met, itineraries, notes, recipes, etc. This subseries corresponds to chapters 9-11 in The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 14-23
Correspondence, 1921-1933
Carton 2SH 14JT CFolder 24-31
"Around the World" correspondence, 1934-1936
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 1
Travel notebook A-H, 1930s-1950s
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 2
Loose papers removed from travel notebook A-H
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 3
Travel notebook I-Z, 1930s-1950s
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 4
Loose papers removed from travel notebook I-Z
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 5
Condolence calling cards, Nov. 1925
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 6
Bills and receipts, 1929-1937
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 7
Newspaper clippings, 1924-1938
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 8
Passport and permits, 1928-1934
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 9
Printed material, 1929-1936
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 10
Ephemera

D. World War II papers, 1937-1946

Arranged chronologically by type.

Hilda returned to Europe during World War II and worked as an ambulance driver in Cambridge, England. When she returned to the United States in 1942, she moved to Boston and worked at the Hood Rubber Company in Watertown, Mass. and at the Commercial Filters Corporation in Boston.

This subseries includes correspondence with her family and friends, newspaper clippings, U.K. and U.S. government information regarding air raid precautions, etc., passports and certifications, ration materials, and ephemera. This subseries corresponds to chapters 12-13 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 11-18
Correspondence, 1937-1946
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 19
Business correspondence, 1939-1945
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 20
Financial papers, checks, 1941-1945
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 21
Newspaper clippings, 1940-1945
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 22
Government publications and forms, 1940-1945
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 23
Passports and certifications, 1940-1945
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 24
Ration materials, ca. 1941
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 25
Diary/calendar, 1941
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 26
Printed material, 1939-1944
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 27
Ephemera

E. Miscellaneous papers, 1946-1956

Arranged chronologically by type.

This subseries contains correspondence, a passport, and miscellaneous papers from the period between World War II and Hilda Chase Foster's move to Vermont and corresponds to chapter 13 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster. See also travel notebooks in the 1920s and 1930s papers.

Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 28
Correspondence, 1946-1956
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 29
Passport, 1948
Carton 3SH 14JU DFolder 30
Miscellaneous

F. Norwich, Vermont, 1955-1974

Arranged chronologically by type.

Hilda lived in Norwich, Vt. from 1957 until her death in 1974. Papers from that period include correspondence, papers regarding her father Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster's estate, living will forms, newspaper clippings, an autobiography of G. H. Donald, and membership cards and certificates. This subseries corresponds to chapters 13-14 of The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster.

Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 1-2
Correspondence, 1957-1974
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 3-6
Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster estate papers, 1955-1963
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 7
Living will forms, 1970-1971
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 8
Newspaper clippings, ca. 1957-1973
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 9
Autobiography pamphlet of G. H. Donald
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 10
Membership cards and certificates, 1958-1967

G. Miscellaneous correspondence and papers

Arranged by type.

This subseries contains undated correspondence not organized by period by Anne Farlow Morris, as well as miscellaneous calling cards, recipes, lists, tracings, and ephemera.

Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 11-12
Correspondence
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 13
Calling cards
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 14
Recipes and household lists
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 15
Tracings
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 16
Ephemera

H. Recordings, 1935-1973

Arranged chronologically by type.

This subseries contains one "voice record," eight 1/4" reel-to-reel audio tapes, and three audio cassette tapes. The "voice record" is a novelty greeting recorded and sent to Hilda Chase Foster in 1935. The reel-to-reel audio tapes and cassettes, 1969-1973, include reminiscences and anecdotes about her childhood and travels.

Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 17
"Voice record," 29 Nov. 1935
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 18-21
1/4" tape reels, 1969-1970
Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 22
Cassettes, ca. 1973

I. Birthday scrapbook, 1970-1971

Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 29-43

III. Anne Farlow Morris notes, ca. 1977-1979

This series contains various notes generated by Morris in the course of researching the memoir. The series includes timelines of activities throughout the lives of Hilda and C. H. W. Foster, transcriptions of C. H. W. Foster diary entries, note cards containing pertinent dates and events, brief biographies of some family members and acquaintances, lists of C. H. W. Foster's yachts, transcriptions of interviews with Hilda and her siblings in their later years, and photocopied newspaper articles.

Carton 4SH 14JV EFolder 23-28

Materials Removed from the Collection

Printed Material

The following printed materials have been removed from the collection for placement and cataloging with the Massachusetts Historical Society printed materials.

Crumbaker, Leslie G. The Baker Estate or Ridge Hill Farms of Needham. Needham: Needham Historical Society, 1975.

Forty-Fifth Annual Catalogue of the Teachers and Pupils of Chauncy-Hall School. Boston: David Clapp & Son, 1873.

Map of Boston Common with Surrounding Streets and Adjacent Parts of Beacon Hill. Designed by Griswold Tyng. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. (ca. 1940s?)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Regulations and Suggestions for the Trip to Philadelphia, June 8, 1876.

Morris, Anne Farlow. The Memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster. Privately printed, 1982.

The Overseas War Record of the Winsor School, 1914-1919.

Young, Sarah Abby. Will. Mar. 7, 1888, Codicil Oct. 23, 1889.

Photographs

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Hilda Chase Foster photographs, 1879-1981. Photo. Coll. 143.

Artifacts

The following artifacts were removed from the collection for storage and cataloging with the Massachusetts Historical Society museum collection.

Charles Henry Wheelwright Foster. Wallet.

Hilda Chase Foster. Fabric book, 1897-1901.

"Ration Books" leather pouch.

World War II Blitz earplug.

Army-Navy Production Award pin.

1 United Kingdom Half-Penny, 1919.

2 US steel pennies, 1943.

4 OPA blue points.

6 lace clover pattern textiles.

2 handkerchiefs with an embroidered "H".

Preferred Citation

Hilda Chase Foster papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Dunnell, W. W., Mrs.
Foster, Charles Henry Wheelwright, 1859-1955.
Foster, Mabel Chase Hill, 1864-1925.
Foster, Reginald Candler, 1889-1945.
Foster family.
Morris, Anne Farlow.

Subjects:

Estates (Law).
Family history--1850-1899
Family history--1900-1949.
Family history--1950-1999.
Fox hunting--Ireland.
Passports--United States.
Recipes.
Voyages and travels.
Weddings.
Women and war.
Women travelers.
World War, 1914-1918--Participation, Female.
World War, 1914-1918--War work--Red Cross.
World War, 1914-1918--Women.
World War, 1939-1945--War work.
World War, 1939-1945--Women.
Asia--Description and travel.
Australia--Description and travel.
England--Description and travel--1901-1945.
India--Description and travel.
Ireland--Description and travel.

Titles:

The memoirs of Hilda Chase Foster, 1891-1974 [manuscript notes].