The Lillian Welch Voorhees papers consist of 21.7 linear feet of items typical of the life of a 20th century educator. The collection also reflects Voorhees's literary and theatrical interests with examples of her own writings, as well as those of her students.
Correspondence, 1900-1973 (ca. 8450 items), comprises the largest part of Voorhees's papers. Her literary efforts, 1907-71, are another large section. These include bibliographies; articles; a fragmentary autobiography and several curricula vitae; and two short biographies about actress Rose McClendon, published in Notable American Women, 1607-1950, and professor and Voorhees classmate Mildred Evelyn Bassett, published in Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly [Spring, 1964?]. The papers also include Voorhees's book reviews; school and college term papers, themes, and notebooks; editorials and news items; plays; a few short stories; two of her many speeches; her dissertation (1925) and her thesis (1943), both for Columbia Teachers College; a few poems; and other material (1932-1935, 1969), such as advertising, correspondence, proof sheets, plays and poems, relating to The Brown Thrush: Anthology of Verse by Negro Students of which she was co-editor [1st ed., 1932; 2nd ed., 1935]. In addition, Voorhees collected other literary work by her students (1929-1972), which included articles, plays, short stories, and poems. Other papers include announcements, invitations, and programs; bills and receipts; constitutions, amendments, by-laws, and minutes; five volumes of diaries, all fragmentary; a few pamphlets, booklets, and periodicals; records of family, school, college, travel and honors conferred; reports; scrapbooks; photographs; news clippings; and phonograph records.
The papers of Voorhees contain information on the history and development of Tougaloo and Talladega Colleges and Fisk University, as well as collegiate drama and speech education. Other subjects of importance include educational theater; children's theater; the little theater movement, plays, actors and actresses (especially Rose McClendon, mentioned above, and Paul Robeson); professional speech and drama organizations (particularly the National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts (1936-1970); the American Educational Theatre Association (1943-1963); and the American National Theatre and Academy (1947-1963)); the opening of new fields for employment and activity to Blacks (1942-70); black servicemen in the armed forces (1940-1964); student demonstrations (1960-1971); the American Missionary Association (1917-1960) and in lesser degrees, the American Friends Service Committee and the Young Men's Christian Association; graduate education (1925-1944); women professors (1917-1970); women's education at Mount Holyoke College (1913-1917); the role of and prejudices against women in the 1920s; and activities open to and /or chosen by retired persons (1930-1972).
Among members of Voorhees's family, a cousin, Helen McNair Voorhees (b. 1892) corresponded most frequently. Besides members of the family and several classmates of the Mount Holyoke College Class of 1917, principal correspondents are colleagues and students at Tougaloo and Talladega Colleges and Fisk University. Included are Roger Lee Askew, Eleanor H. Augur, Adam Daniel Beittel, Frederick Leslie Brownlee, Lyman Van Law Cady, Helen Cassilly Silsby Cross (Mrs. Robert C.), Gerald Lewis Davis, Hilda A. Davis, Gladys Inez Forde, Doris B. Garey, Martha Jane Gibson, Mrs. Fannie Ella Frazier Hicklin, the Gordon Henry Kitchen family (G. H. Kitchen, his wife, Dorothea Hughes Kitchen, and their daughters, Victoria Nan Kitchen Steele [Mrs. Warren B.] and Joy Adelyn Kitchen Ward [Mrs. Clinton, Jr.]), Ethel S. Miller (Mrs. Minuard B.), Willis Norman Pitts, Margaret Helen Scott, Anndell Sturgies (Mrs. Calvin), and Carolyn Reid Wallace (Mrs. Addison N.).
Box 45: Classwork: Assorted themes, term papers, notebooks, etc., 1907-1938
Box 51: Aluminum electrograph records, undated