Rebecca Timbres Clark Papers
Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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
Rebecca Sinclair Janney was born May 6,1896, in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of O. Edward Janney and Anne B. Webb and a birthright member of Baltimore Monthly Meeting. She was the granddaughter of Joseph and Rebecca (Sinclair) Turner, weighty Baltimore Friends involved in social causes and the founding of Swarthmore College. Her parents were also active in Quaker concerns; her father retired from his medical practice in 1907 to devote himself to social causes.
Rebecca Janney attended Goucher College for one year, then graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1918 and finished a nurse's training course at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. Pa., in 1920. In February 1921 she left for Poland to serve as a typhus nurse and child refugee worker under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), where she met Harry Garland Timbres, a fellow Quaker relief worker. Harry Timbres was born on April 3, 1899, in Missouri, but raised in Canada. He attended Leland Stanford University for a year and joined the Society of Friends and then transferred to Haverford College in Pennsylvania where his position as a conscientious objector was more welcomed. As a C.O. he was assigned to Poland in March 1921. Rebecca and Harry soon began their courtship, during which they enjoyed the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore ("Gurudev") who influenced Harry's own poetry.
They were married by civil service in Dansig and then by Quaker service on March 29, 1922, in Warsaw, Poland. They were immediately sent to Russia to aid in famine relief, returning to the U.S. in November of the same year. Harry Timbres earned a medical degree at Johns Hopkins in 1928, planning to return to Russia to practice medicine. To help pay for medical school, the couple lectured and performed Russian and Polish folk dances. They had three daughter: "Nancy" Anne Janney Timbres (1923-1927), "Nicky" Eleanor Carter Timbres (1924-1989), and "Nadya" Rebecca Sinclair Timbres (born 1928). While the couple awaited the issue of visas, they spent the five year interval in England and India and then in Baltimore where Harry was on the staff at Johns Hopkins. In India (1931-1934), they joined Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal and organized a medical cooperative, but had to return to America due to Harry's continuing problems with malaria. In 1936, Harry Timbres left for Russia to work towards the eradication of malaria. His family, including two small daughters, joined him soon after and lived in Soviet Russia until Harry's death of typhus, complicated by malaria, on May 12, 1937.
Rebecca Timbres returned to America and earned a M.A. in Social Work from Columbia University in 1941. She worked for the AFSC in Philadelphia and in 1943 became Dean of Nursing at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. She was married (second) to Edgar Sydenham Clark (1885-1961) on July 2,1943, at Providence Monthly Meeting (United), Media, Pa., and the couple moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1947, where Rebecca worked as a medical social worker. Edgar Clark died May 12, 1961, and Rebecca Timbres Clark moved first to California and then Media, Pa. On May 4, 1963, she was married (third) to Richard Robb Taylor (1901-1974), a member of Gunpowder Monthly Meeting, Maryland. They divorced in 1970, and Rebecca resumed her former married name of Rebecca Timbres Clark and moved to Moorestown, NJ, where she continued to serve on various Quaker boards and committees. In 1972-73, she served briefly as a member of the Board of Directors of Friends Hall at Fox Chase, a Friends Retirement Home in Fox Chase. She died February 7, 2000, at Medford Leas, a retirement community in New Jersey.
Rebecca Timbres Clark's long life spanned the twentieth century and reflects the humanitarian and social work undertaken by the American Friends Service Committee and other Quaker organizations, as well as the personal life of a family with many ties to the Philadelphia and Baltimore Quaker communities, including the Janney, Sinclair, Turner, and Holmes families. The collection contains extensive correspondence, journals (1913-1989), biographical data, articles, speeches, reviews, poetry, pictures, and memorabilia. The collection covers in detail her relief work in eastern Europe and Russia, undertaken by Clark and her first husband, Harry Garland Timbres, a Quaker physician, under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee. The collection includes material relating to their medical and social work in India working in a school founded by Rabindranath Tagore whose poetry deeply influenced the couple. Rebecca wrote a book, We Didn't Ask Utopia, published in 1939, which describes her work and life with Harry Timbres. Rebecca's subsequent work in Hawaii, as well as later correspondence concerning her work with Friends World Committee and other Quaker organizations, is also covered by collection. In her later years, she worked on her autobiography which remains in multiple draft form. Correspondents include Charles Freer Andrews, Rabindranath Tagore, and Horace Alexander.
The collection is divided into nine series:
- Biographical and genealogical
- Legal and Financial
- Picture collection
Series 2 (Correspondence) is divided into three subgroups: Sorted by topic, by correspondent, and family correspondence
There is an overlap in Series 1 (Biographical) and 6 (Writings) since Rebecca Timbres Clark worked in her later years on an autobiography.
Series 6 (Writings) is divided into two groups. The first is five folders of writings arranged alphabetically which were given in the early 1970s, followed by additional and in some case duplicate writings.
- Timbres, Rebecca Janney. We Didn't Ask Utopia. Prentice Hall, N.Y.: 1939.
The collection was established by Rebecca Timbres Clark with her gifts to Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College in 1973 and was originally named the Janney-Timbres Papers. A small amount of papers was added from a distant cousin, Donald C. Turner. After Rebecca Timbres Clark's death in 2000, her daughter, Rebecca Timbres Coleman, donated the additional personal papers and an oil portrait of Rebecca Sinclair Turner.
Donor: Rebecca Timbres Clark, 1973-1976
Donald C. Turner, 1985
Rebecca Timbres Coleman, 2000
Accession number: 2000-027
The collection was originally processed by FHL Staff in the early 1970s, with the gift of Rebecca Timbres Clark and some added material from Donald C. Turner. It was named the Janney-Timbres Papers. These three boxes of material consisted mainly of early correspondence, the journals of 1921-22, copies of Harry's poetry, articles by Rebecca which were arranged alphabetically, and some papers on Rebecca's speeches. After Rebecca Timbres Clark's death in 2000 at the age of 103, her daughter, Rebecca Timbres Coleman, donated additional personal papers, photographs, and memorabilia. The 2000 gift was integrated into the earlier collection and a new finding aid produced. The correspondence received in the earlier gift and the writing arranged alphabetically have been maintained in their original order rather than being integrated into other folders. The inventories of the original deposit and the 2000 addition are stored in the RG5/026 Administrative folder. Photographs have been removed to PA 113, with the exception of oversized photographs of O. Edward Janney and Rebecca Timbres Clark which are stored in Board of Managers Collection and Oversize, respectively. Personally inscribed books of poetry by Rabindranath Tagore have been added to the FHL book collection. Additional books already represented in the tri-college libraries were removed to more suitable repositories.
The portrait of Rebecca Sinclair Turner is hanging in the Reading Room of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College (2001). See FHL Administrative File for Mrs. Clark's conjectures about the artist.
The following material has been removed from the collection and retalogued as the Rebecca Timbres Clark Picture Collection, PA 113, 3 boxes plus two oversized photographs.
- Album of snapshots of Poland and Russia, not labeled.
- Loose photographs including:
- Many portraits of Rebecca Timbres Clark
- O. Edward Janney (with negatives)
- Early photographs of family, including Elizabeth Holmes, Price and Webb families
- Harry Timbres, Edgar Clark
- Rabindranath Tagore by Doris Ulman, with inscription for Rebecca, 1931 NOTE: RESTRICTED, SEE CURATOR
- Loose photographs, family and friends and (rolled)
- panoramic photo of National Federation of Business and Professional Women, St. Louis, 1954
- Loose photos, 1940s-80s, family and friends
- International relief -- Poland
- International relief -- Europe, Eastern
- Quakers -- Europe, Eastern
- Society of Friends -- International assistance
- Quakers -- Hawaii
- Quakers -- India
- Quakers -- Poland
- Quakers -- Social life and customs
- Quakers -- New Jersey
- Schools -- India
- Quaker women
- Women authors -- 20th century
- Charities -- Hawaii
- Social service -- Hawaii
- Charities -- Europe, Eastern
- Social service -- Europe, Eastern
- Charities -- Russia (Federation)
- Social service -- Russia (Federation)
- Charities -- India
- Social service -- India
- Medicine -- India
- Medicine -- Poland
- Medicine -- Russia (Federation)
- Medicine -- Europe, Eastern
- Charities -- Poland
- Social service -- Poland
- Quakers -- Russia (Federation)
- International relief -- Russia (Federation)
- Nursing -- Russia (Federation)
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- Susanna Morikawa
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.
Entitled Dances + Stories by Harry Garland Timbres + Rebecca S. Jammey Timbres as given on their tours from 1925-1929.
First four folders were sorted by Rebecca Clark and part of her gift to FHL in 1963. The correspondence within related to her service in Poland and relationship with Harry G. Timbres.
Handwritten copies by Rebecc
The first four folders arranged alphabetically by title as listed below was part of the original deposit by Rebecca Clark in 1973-76; the remaining folders were given in 2000 and have been arranged alphabetically.