Mary Josephs Fowler Papers 1910-1954, MS. 2794

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N T P Q R S T U V W X-Z

Mary Josephs Fowler Papers, 1910-1954
Maryland Historical Society
 
  

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)
 

Mary Josephs Fowler Papers, 1910-1954
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750
Fax: 410.385.2105
library@mdhs.org
www.mdhs.org



Descriptive Summary

MARY JOSEPHS FOWLER PAPERS

MS. 2794

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

 


Biographical Sketch

Mary Josephs Fowler was born in New Orleans in 1883, the eldest child in a family of five. Her brothers included Devereux Josephs, a president of The Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees. Her youngest brother, Hugh, was a doctor who trained and then taught at The Johns Hopkins Medical School.. The Josephs family moved to Baltimore before the turn of the century, amd summered near Newport, Rhode Island. Mary Josephs went to the Bryn Mawr School, graduating in 1902. She made her debut in 1903 at the age of 19.

In 1917, she joined the American Red Cross, and was sent to France to serve as a canteen worker. She was soon promoted to assistant nurse, and worked at a field hospital near the front line at Soissons.

In 1926, Josephs married noted Baltimore architect Laurence Hall Fowler. He was in his early fifties, and she about 40 at the time of their marriage. They moved into a house at 10 West Highfield Road, in the Tuscany-Canterbury area of the city, in 1928. Her husband died in June, 1971. Mary Fowler moved to an apartment at 100 West University Parkway, where she lived until her death on January 1, 1981. The Fowlers had no children.

 


Scope and Content

The collection is divided into two series: writings and correspondence. The bulk of the material is draft copies of unpublished plays, short stories and poetry penned by Mary Josephs prior to her marriage to Lawrence Hall Fowler. Included in the writings are drafts of the diary she kept about her experiences during World War I as a nurse. It is not clear if it was written at the time, or composed later from her letters home to her parents.

The correspondence covers 1917-1920, and focuses largely on Fowler's war experiences. As she noted in her diary in 1939, she had a sense that “I was seeing things experienced by only a few people, and must record them for posterity.” Used in conjunction with her war diary, the letters vividly depict the hardships faced not only by medical workers, but the men in the trenches as well.

Processed by: Margaret N. Burri

Date: July, 1991

 


Container List MS. 2794

BOX 1

Series I: Writings

Diary, 1910,

1 folder

Diary, 1939; 1952; 1954;

1 folder.

Memoirs, notes for,

1 folder

Memoirs, Chapters I-IV,

1 folder

Memoirs, Chapters VII-VIII,

1 folder

Memoirs,

2 folders

“ `Much Madness Is Divinist Sense' ”: A Memoir Vignette of Emily Dickenson.

Short Stories,

13 folders:

“A Dream”

“The Future in the Instant”

“The House of the Carpenter”

“The Measure of Achievement”

“Sins of the Fathers”

“The Trade Mark”

“The Trade-Mark”

“The Two Gods”

“The Unmanageable Years”

[Untitled],

2 folders

“The Wind”

“What is the Middle Class”

Poetry,

3 folders

BOX 2

Plays:

“Chaperones”

“Chapersoned”

“The Dice of God Are Always Loaded”

“A Door Must Either Be Open or Shut”

“Freedom”

“Heroes”

“The Last Ditch”

“The Lotus Eater”

“The Well-Meaning Ones”

“The Other Things”

“Penelope”

“What Looks Out of the Eyes”

[Untitled]

Series II: Correspondence

Outgoing letters, November 1917-August 1918,

3 folders, mss and tss., 3 folders

BOX 3

Outgoing letters, August 1918-January 1919,

1 folder

Incoming letter, December 4, 1916

(1 item)

MARY JOSEPHS FOWLER (Mrs. Laurence Hall Fowler)

Mary Josephs was born in New Orleans, the eldest child in a family of five. Her brothers included Devereux Josephs, at one time president of a large national insurance company and president of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees. Her youngest brother Hugh was a doctor who trained and then taught at the Johns Hopkins Medical School. (His widow, Dr. Charlotte McCarthy, lives in Ruxton.) Another brother was, I believe, an engineer. The Josephs family moved to Baltimore before the turn of the century, and summered near Newport, Rhode Island, where the brothers attended St. George's School in preparation for Harvard.

Mrs. Fowler went to the Bryn Mawr School, graduating in 1902. She often expressed some bitterness that her parents had not seen fit to let her go on to college, although higher education for the daughter of a genteel Southern family was not in that era the usual pattern. She felt, no doubt with some justice, that she was as bright or brighter than the boys and felt that her mother kept her at home to help run the household and look after her siblings. She rarely spoke of her mother without an animus bordering on contempt.

Certainly Mary Fowler was very well read, and had literary aspirations. She subscribed to such literary magazines as the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's, collected first editions of Henry James and, when I knew her in her eighties and nineties, was keenly interested in current literature, political and international affairs. An anecdote about her, which I heard from Mary Pringle Fenhagen Anderson, turned upon her literary acumen. Brother Devereux was active in the Dial magazine around the time of his graduation from Harvard. Mary was pressed into service to read manuscripts and it was on her recommendation that they published the early work of Marianne Moore.

Among the papers which she gave to me in 1978 or 1979, those of greatest interest and importance are the memoirs and letters describing her overseas service during the first World War. She clearly thought so too, and hoped to turn that raw material into a publishable piece. Her short stories and plays are much less interesting, although they make obvious the constraints her class and gender imposed, even on so intelligent a person.

She shared both the antisemitic and racist attitudes of her contemporaries, although she claimed with some pride that the Josephs had Sephardic ancestors. One of her other quirks was the belief that there was evidence of insanity in all of the “better” families of her acquaintance.

She married Laurence Hall Fowler, who was a prominent architect in Baltimore, in 1926 (?). He was in his early fifties and she was about 40 at the time of their marriage. They moved into a house at 10 West Highfield Road in the area of the city called Tuscany-Canterbury in 1928, the house which we bought from her in April 1971. Fowler had been in Keswick for several years and died that June. Mary Fowler moved to an apartment at 100 West University Parkway, where she lived until her death on January 1, 1981. I visited her frequently during those ten years.

She didn't talk often about her marriage. I inferred from oblique remarks that there may have been two pregnancies, and that neither child survived longer than a few months, or indeed may have been stillborn. Fowler himself seems to have been in poor health in his later years; by the mid-forties he had given up his architectural practice.

She was remarkable, I think, for not living in the past but continuing to have a strong interest in contemporary affairs and cultural currents. Her outlook was somewhat acerbic and self-centered. She was always slightly resentful when I wanted to talk about Fowler's career rather than her particular interests. A series of strokes made communication difficult, but I continued to enjoy visiting her and my visits and small attentions seemed to please her.

Faith M. Holland

(Mrs. Laurence B. Holland)

November 10, 1988