Mary C. Carras papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Mary C. Carras was born on July 28, 1928 in New York, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Louis and Urania Georgiou Carras, and sister to Yeta and Sassa. She earned her BA from Hunter College in New York, New York in 1962 and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969. Early in her education, she appears to have focused on studying the political and economic spheres in India. She traveled to India via a Fulbright-Hays/National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship (1964 to 1966), an American Institute of Indian Studies Travel Grant (1966) and a dissertation fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1967). During those early trips to India, Carras developed her research methodology, and recorded first hand descriptions of life in India.
From 1968 to 1970, Carras served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She then moved to Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, where her role was initially the same, but in 1972, she was made Acting Chairman of the Department of Political Science. In 1972, she moved to Rutgers University-Camden, where she served as Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. She became the head of the department in 1985.
Carras was perhaps best known for her biography of Indira Gandhi, Indira Gandhi in the Crucible of Leadership: A Political Biography, which was published by Beacon Press in 1979. Her research for this work (and other works about Gandhi and the politics and economy of India) includes multiple interviews with Gandhi (from 1975 to 1981) and others who knew her. Carras describes her interviews with Gandhi as candid and forthcoming.
In addition to studying Indira Gandhi and tangentially, Gandhi's father Jawaharla Nehru and her son Rajiv Gandhi (both also serving as prime ministers), Carras studied Narasimha Rao; international trade; Indo-American relationships; economy in India and the United States; biotechnology; and social and occupational problems of women in South Asian cultures, among other topics.
Carras died on January 17, 2021.
This collection documents Mary C. Carras's professional career and contains almost no personal material. Topics of her collection are largely focused on the politics and economy of India from the 1960s through the 1980s. Within that broad focus, researchers will find considerable research on Indira Gandhi, international relations, Indo-American relations, agriculture and biotechnology, and social and occupational problems of women in South Asian culture. The collection is arranged in two series: I. Biographical, student, and professional files and II. Research files.
Series I. Biographical, student and professional files documents the full range of Carras's career. Biographical information relating to Carras is limited to a few CV's and grant and fellowship applications and therefore, these files largely only document her professional life. This group of material provides glimpses into Carras's earliest work in the studies of India's economic and international relations via her student papers as an undergraduate at Hunter College and a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers will also find career-centric work, including presentations to and involvement with conferences, a very small amount of teaching-related material, and review work based upon her reputation as an expert in her field. Most significant in this group are the files relating to Carras's writings and these include communications with publishers, drafts or reprints of published articles, as well as responses and reviews of works, notably her biography of Indira Gandhi Indira Gandhi in the Crucible of Leadership: A Political Biography.
Series II. Research files makes up the bulk of the collection and consists of a wide range of research that Carras conducted, almost certainly for her writings, but probably also for her other career responsibilities: for presentations to organizations and associations, teaching, and reviewing grants and writings for others. These research files are organized alphabetically by topic; however it is important to note that much of Carras's research is intertwined with multiple topics and may have been used in different ways for a variety of projects. For example, nearly all research regarding India during the 1970s seems to at least reflect upon Indira Gandhi's sphere of influence, even if that is not the stated topic of her research. When the titles on Carras's folders represented the contents of the folders, they were retained.
Carras's research methodology appears to have been fairly consistent: she collected writings by others, articles and data from journals, government publications, and online sources; and perhaps most importantly, she interviewed people for their first-hand perspectives of her research topics. When interviewing, Carras recorded conversations on audiocassettes (many of which are included in the collection), transcribed the recordings, and created an alphabetical index. These perspectives on India, Indira Gandhi, Indo-American relations, international relations, and Zilla Parishads are completely unique to this collection. Carras's earliest interviews related to the Zilla Parishads and contain only notes and transcripts [Box 4, Folders 7-12 and Box 5, Folders 1-3].
Over the course of three decades, Carras interviewed:
-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi [transcripts and notes in Box 6, Folders 9-11 and audiocassettes in Box 10, Folders 6-9 and 18-19];
-Politicians and government employees about Indira Gandhi [transcripts and notes in Box 6, Folders 12-17 and audiocassettes in Box 8, Folders 1-18 and Box 9, Folders 1-5];
-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi [transcripts and notes in Box 6, Folder 21 and audiocassette in Box 10, Folder 20];
-Foreign Minister/Prime Minister Narasimha Rao [transcripts and notes in Box 7, Folders 3-4];
and numerous Indian and American politicians and government employees for her Indo-American Project [transcripts and notes in box 5, Folders 9-13 and audiocassettes in Box 12, Folders 6-20 and Box 13, Folders 1-3].
When transcripts and audio recordings for the same interviews are both found within the collection, the audiocassettes are listed after the transcripts.
Included in the collection are a number of audiocassettes containing information beyond the interviews. Because the processor was unable to listen to original media, titles have been taken directly from the cassette. Some content seems fairly straightforward, such as content recorded from television or radio programs; however, there are titles that are more uncertain, such as "Nehru, Jawaharlal, press clippings, 1951 Congress Crisis." It is possible that these are recordings of Carras taking verbal notes on topics; but the actual content is unknown. Carras maintained her audiocassettes in a series of numerical runs; and these runs have been maintained physically, but intellectually were placed alphabetically within the series in order to facilitate use by researchers.
Gift of Lee and Phil Cokorinos (nephews of Mary C. Carras), 2021
This collection was processed, in part, as a component of the Extending New Narratives in the History of Philosophy Project, on April 21, 2022. Participants who helped process this collection include: Zach Agoff, Patrick Ball, Olivia Branscum, Haley Brennan, Louise Daoust, Allauren Forbes, Sergio Gallegos-Ordorica, Dwight Lewis, Kevin Lower, Michaela Manson, Robbie Matyasi, Brooke Sharp, Maya Sidjinska, Hwa Yeong.
- International relations
- International trade
- Women in politics
- Political science
- Authors, American
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
- 2022 August 2
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use; however, material in Box 1, Folders 8-9 is restricted until 2055 and Box 1, Folders 12-13 is restricted until 2077 due to personally identifiable information. Researchers interested in the content of these folders should contact the Kislak Center for further information.
Original audio cassettes, found in Boxes 8 to 15, are restricted. If the original does not already have a copy, it may be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items will depend on the nature of the material and is subject to review for condition. Please contact the Kislak Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- 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.