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
Mary (Ruth Gardner) Knowles was born in 1910 in Watertown, Massachusetts, and attended Bates College in Maine. She married Clive Dorman Knowles in 1933; they divorced in 1951. Mary Knowles worked for the Samuel Adams School for Social Studies, Boston, as an office secretary 1945-1948, and was certified as a librarian by the State of Massachusetts. In 1953, she appeared before the Jenner Committee (Senate Internal Security Subcommittee). Mary Knowles was hired by the Jeanes Memorial Library in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, in 1953, and became the focus of a McCarthy-era controversy. She was convicted of contempt of Congress in 1957 for refusing to answer questions arising out of the Senate subcommittee and successfully appealed the conviction in 1960.
This collection includes legal papers, correspondence, and other materials relating to the William Jeanes Memorial Library Controversy concerning the hiring of Mary Knowles as librarian by the Library Committee of Plymouth Monthly Meeting. The collection contains background material concerning the William Jeanes Memorial Library, Plymouth Monthly Meeting, and Mary Knowles who was convicted of contempt of Congress in 1957 for refusing to answer questions arising out of the Jenner Committee (Senate Internal Security Subcommittee) and successfully appealed the conviction in 1960.
The collection is divided into eight series:
- General background
- Correspondence of Mary Knowles
- Legal papers
- Printed material
- William Jeanes Memorial Library
- Plymouth Monthly Meeting
- Alerted Americans
Donor: Plymouth Monthly Meeting, 1977
Mary Knowles, 1981
Stefan Thiemer, 1985
In 1981, Plymouth Monthly Meeting permitted its previously deposited papers on the controversy to be integrated with the papers of Mary Knowles. The collection were combined into a single Record Group 5 collection, sorted and filed in documents boxes. in 1985, a paper by Stefan Thiemer, "The Plymouth Monthly Meeting and the Case of Mary Knowles," was added to the collection.
- Quakers -- Pennsylvania -- Plymouth Meeting
- Church controversies -- Society of Friends
- Civil rights -- Religious aspects -- Society of Friends
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- FHL staff
- Finding Aid Date
- Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-RUU/1.0/.
Biographical material about Mary Knowles, general information about the William Jeanes Memorial Library, Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and summaries of the controversy resulting from hiring Mary Knowles as Librarian in 1953 with implications for the broader issues of civil and religious liberty.Physical Description
Mostly correspondence of the Library Committee, appointed by Plymouth Monthly Meeting.
Rough drafts of occasional minutes from 1941-61; sketchy and very incomplete.
The Alerted Americans were a right-wing group opposed to Mary Knowles.
Includes a summary and analysis, with packets of signatures at back of box.
Paper--gift of author, May 1985.