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Pearl S. Buck letters to Mary Carolyn Dobbs


Held at: Pearl S. Buck International [Contact Us]520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA, 18944

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Pearl S. Buck International. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was an American author, best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Good Earth and her humanitarian work including her advocacy for women's and minority groups' rights, her efforts to increase and promote mutual understanding between the people of China and America, and her activities with Asian and interracial adoption.

Mary Carolyn Dobbs (1911-2011) was a teacher and pioneer in the field of special education, responsible for several significant improvements in classrooms for children with disabilities and their teachers at the state and national levels. She corresponded with Pearl S. Buck, who shared Dobbs' concern for children with disabilities, and whose own daughter, Carol Buck (1920-1992), had been diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Dobbs visited Buck in Perkasie, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1951.

"Dobbs [was] a native of New York who, because of health problems, decided to move to California. She enrolled at Fresno State College [now California State University, Fresno] and received her Bachelor of Arts degree and a General Elementary Teaching Credential in 1944. She received a Master of Arts degree and Secondary and Special Education Certificates in 1953 [from San Francisco State University]. She also earned a Clinical Psychologist Testing Certificate from [University of California] Berkeley in 1961.

"Dobbs' 32 years of public school teaching began in Fresno County at Biola Elementary School (1944-47). She later was a master teacher in special education in Berkeley (1947-66) and an educational specialist (special education) in Grass Valley [Nevada County, California] (1966-76). She also was a lecturer at the University of North Carolina (1959) and consultant and lecturer at [University of California] Berkeley (1961-65).

"While teaching, she became increasingly focused on teaching strategies especially designed for underprivileged children raised in environments of poverty, broken homes, cultural gaps and language difficulties. This led her to further research and studies that resulted in numerous publications and professional recognition at state, national and international levels.

"In 1969, Dobbs was recognized with the Lane Bryant Award for Volunteer Service to the Community. In 1971, she was recognized with the National Volunteer Award and in 2000 with the National Teachers Hall of Fame Exemplary Teacher Award.

"Awards from the State of California include the California State Department of Education Mental Retardation Award for Most Significant Contribution (1966), a commendation from [Governor] Ronald Reagan in recognition of Endeavors on Behalf of Handicapped Children (1970), Special Education Teacher of the Year (1971), and the California Governor's Committee for Employers of the Handicapped - Citation for Mentoring Service (1974).

"Dobbs served for 15 years on the United State President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped and for 10 years on the California Governor's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped.

"Dobbs' influence also was extended as an editor and writer, she...published approximately 300 instructional and theoretical papers in U.S. journals and another 100 essays in foreign journals.

"In 1952 she established The Pointer, which became one of the most prominent national and international journals for special education. She served as editor until 1978. The Pointer placed emphasis on assistance and support for teachers of the [intellectually disabled] and handicapped, with teacher-oriented materials, classroom projects and workable ideas for way to reach students effectively.

"Dobbs also provided consultation services in special education throughout the United States and in India, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, West Indies, South Africa and Uganda."


Quoted text from: Larson, Lanny. "CSU to Confer Honorary Doctorate On Alumna Mary Carolyn Dobbs." Fresno State News, May 17, 2004. Accessed August 4, 2015.

Pearl S. Buck International. "About Pearl S. Buck." 2015. Accessed August 4, 2015.

This collection consists of fifteen signed letters from Pearl S. Buck to Carolyn Dobbs from 1951 to 1965, and a typed draft of an article with handwritten corrections by Pearl S. Buck published under the title, "The Incalculable Influence," in the California mental health newsletter, The Pointer, which was established and edited by Carolyn Dobbs.

Gift of Mary Carolyn Dobbs to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, 1999

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Pearl S. Buck International directly for more information.

Pearl S. Buck International
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Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by Pearl S. Buck International
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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