Anne Sandwith Drinker scrapbook
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
Anne "Nancy" Sandwith Drinker (later Zinsser) was born on December 26, 1918 to Dr. Cecil Kent Drinker (1887-1956) and Dr. Katherine Livingston Drinker (née Rotan, 1888-1956) in Boston, Massachusetts. The Drinkers were a family of considerable distinction--her uncle Philip Drinker (1894-1972) invented the first widely used iron lung; her aunt Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897-1973) was a distinguished biographer; another uncle was the prominent Philadelphia lawyer and musicologist Henry S. Drinker (1929-1950); and her grandfather Henry Sturgis Drinker (1850-1937) was an engineer, industrialist, and the fifth president of Lehigh University. At the time of Anne Sandwith Drinker's birth, her father was a faculty instructor at Harvard Medical School in the Physiology Department. He would be appointed Professor of Physiology in 1923, a post he held until his retirement in 1948. From 1924 to 1935, Cecil Kent Drinker was Assistant Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and, from 1935 to 1942, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.
This scrapbook begins in 1935, when Anne Sandwith Drinker, called "Nancy" almost exclusively by her friends and family, was 17 years old. At this time, Drinker lived in Brookline, Massachusetts where she had been born and raised. In May 1935 she graduated from the Winsor School, an elite college preparatory school for girls, where according to the graduation program she was a Health Officer, member of the Dramatic Club, and a Ballet Dancer in the senior class production of Ruth, or The Lass Who Loves a Sailor. While she would indeed go on to become an anesthesiologist later in life, during this period, her interests were primarily in drama and dance: specifically, her scrapbook is filled with theater programs, tickets, and magazine and newspaper clippings related to the many plays, ballets, and concerts she attended primarily in Boston, but also to some extent in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended a vast range of productions, often attending multiple events each week.
In addition to being an avid theater-goer, Drinker regularly corresponded with friends and family, for the most part about parties and social outings, organizing or reflecting on visits, and discussing school and daily life. Her frequent correspondents include her paternal grandmother, Aimee Ernesta Drinker (née Beaux) (1852-1935), her father Cecil Kent Drinker (1887-1956), and her friend Bob Murphy.
When she began her undergraduate career at Vassar College in the fall of 1935, her theater attendance appears to have marginally decreased, while her correspondence increased. In particular, her correspondence with Harvard Medical School student Bob Murphy increases significantly during this period. The two write about school, their social lives, and planning visits and outings with one another. During this time Drinker appears to begin to spend some time traveling between Vassar and West Point for dances and mixers. The last materials in the scrapbook date from the spring of 1937, while Drinker is still a student at Vassar.
In 1940, Drinker would marry Hans Handforth Zinsser, a Harvard Medical School student and the son of renowned doctor, author, and educator Hans Zinsser, who was a professor of bacteriology at Harvard. The younger Zinsser would become an assistant professor of urology at Columbia University and an attending surgeon at Presbyterian Hospital. They had one daughter, Katherine Jo Zinsser. Anne "Nancy" Sandwith Zinsser (née Drinker) died in 1972.
This collection contains the second volume of scrapbooks compiled by Anne "Nancy" Sandwith Drinker (1918-1973), which dates from 1934 to 1937. The location of the first volume is unknown. Much of the volume is filled with theater programs for plays, ballets, and concerts that Drinker attended primarily in Boston, but also to an appreciable extent in New York and Philadelphia, as well as magazine and newspaper clippings related to those events. Her taste in drama appears to have been considerably eclectic, as the plays she attended ranged from Shakespeare and Ibsen to light opera and musicals. Programs for student productions at Winsor Preparatory School and Vassar College are also included to a limited extent.
The other primary component of the scrapbook consists of letters sent to Drinker by family and friends. These letters are largely personal in nature, dealing with subjects such as parties and social outings, organizing or reflecting on visits, and discussing school and daily life. Her frequent correspondents include her paternal grandmother, Aimee Ernesta Drinker (née Beaux) (1852-1935), her father Cecil Kent Drinker (1887-1956), and her friend Bob Murphy. She also appears to have kept in contact with people from her father's social circle who orbited around Harvard Medical School, with at least one letter coming from Ruby Handforth Zinsser, the mother of her future husband and wife of her father's colleague Hans Handforth Zinsser (1878-1940). No letters or copies of letters written by Drinker herself appear to be included.
This collection also includes an appreciable amount of photographs of family, friends, pets, and some of Drinker herself. Some student records are included, such as several report cards, her diploma from Winsor Prep, her acceptance letter from Vassar College, and copies of exams. There is very little textual material identifiably written by Drinker included in this collection apart from the occasional caption, but one French-language composition, several unattributed poems, and two very short plays (which appear to have been written in childhood) are, or are very likely, her original work.
Gift of Steve Rothman, 2018.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Cory Austin Knudson
- Finding Aid Date
- 2020 January 8
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.