The papers of Alice Hester Simpson document in good detail her life, personal and professional, and her relationships with several members of her family. The correspondence of David and Clara Simpson gives additional insight for the lives of Alice Simpson’s parents. Her family correspondence and activity in finalizing the affairs or receiving posthumous gifts of several family members describes her involvement with her family. Of special notice are the numerous letters to and from Alice Simpson’s great aunt Alice Little and other records, which indicate the close relationship these two shared.
Much of the documentation included in this collection deals with Alice’s time spent in various capacities at the Library of Hawaii (1929-61). These include personal and professional letters sent by Alice while she was in Hawaii, newspaper entries regarding her service to the Library of Hawaii and in reference to her great aunt Alice Little’s visit to the islands, diary entries covering the time she spent overseas, and photographs taken of Alice and her friends and or family while she was in Hawaii.
The great bulk of professional correspondence concerns her short but prominent career at Oberlin College. During her time as head of the Cataloging Department, the Oberlin College Library decided to adopt the Library of Congress cataloging system, where previously they had used the Dewey Decimal System. The department also performed a self-study to identify potential areas of improvement. The majority of the Oberlin correspondence relates to these two events.
The collection also describes Alice Simpson’s personal activities: traveling, photography, stamp collecting, and participating in various women’s groups. The Christian Bibles, New Testaments, and Daily Book of Prayer, along with the church bulletins in the Miscellaneous File, give insight into her religious devotion.
Series I. Biographical File, 1903-93 (4f)
This series consists of biographical information regarding Alice Simpson including alumni response forms from several institutions and other lists detailing Simpson’s occupations and other activities and some genealogical information. Photocopies of articles, including obituaries of Alice Simpson, are included here. In addition, there are programs from both her high school and college graduations. A separate folder contains copies of her diplomas.
A separate restricted folder contains records regarding Alice Simpson’s retirement pension from her time in Hawaii, grades from Oberlin College, a personal notes from and regarding her father Donald Simpson, Territory of Hawaii identification card, vital records (e.g. birth certificates), mortgage information, and her certificate of confirmation. Another restricted folder contains diplomas earned by Alice Simpson which contain grades.
Series II. Correspondence of Alice H. Simpson, Incoming, 1907-87
Subseries 1. Letters Received from Family, 1907-61
This folder contains mostly letters received by Alice Simpson in the early decades of the 20th century, although there is one from her father dated 1961. They express her family’s devotion to and care for her. Many letters are from a signed “Great aunt.”
Subseries 2. Personal Correspondence from Others and Miscellany, 1945-87
This folder contains many letters from friends of Alice Simpson or her parents, organizations with which she was involved, and other personal acquaintances. Some of the correspondence concerns the deaths of her parents and details arrangements made for their memory. A separate folder contains miscellaneous correspondence, note cards, and invitations from various individuals.
Subseries 3. Professional Correspondence (library-related), 1929-69 (2f)
This subseries contains professional correspondence of Alice Simpson in her positions at Oberlin College Library (1961-66) and Ashland, Ohio, Library (1966-69). During Alice Simpson’s time as Head of the Cataloging Department in the Oberlin College Library, the library changed to cataloging books under the Library of Congress Classification. Many inter-office memos included in this correspondence series discusses this transition as well as a self-study performed to identify areas where the Cataloging Department could be improved. In addition, there is a file including letters regarding two positions for which Alice was rejected, and some correspondence regarding a possible position at Cleveland Public Library.
Subseries 4. Legal and Business Correspondence, 1955-66
This file consists of correspondence, certificates, and receipts concerning Alice Simpson’s gifts to the King Memorial Fund at Oberlin College and other gifts to Ashland College while she worked there.
Series III. Correspondence of Alice H. Simpson, Outgoing, 1916-69
This series entirely consists of letters written by Alice Simpson to various individuals. Many are to family and friends, though there is some business correspondence regarding her resignation from the Library of Hawaii, 1941 and 1961. Some professional correspondence exists in reference to Ashland Library as well. Another letter of interest was written to her parents, dated Dec. 7, 1941, which depicts civilian experience in Hawaii after the attacks at the naval instillation.
Series IV. Writings File, n.d.
Subseries 1. Writings by Alice H. Simpson, n.d.
This folder contains three short poems supposedly written by Alice Simpson and a two-page short story about interviewing at a new, but unusual, school.
Subseries 2. Writings by Others, n.d.
This folder contains numerous hula dance instruction sheets as well as short prose and poetry writings by various individuals collected by Alice Simpson.
Series V. Clippings File, 1909, 1951-73
This series, consisting of one folder, contains newspaper clippings about Alice Simpson, Alice Cowles Little, David P. Simpson, and Donald L. Simpson.
Series VI. Travel Files, 1934
This folder contains a letter, a detailed itinerary, and maps relating to a 1934 trip by Alice Simpson to both main islands of New Zealand.
Series VII. Wills and Inheritance Files, 1920-73
This file contains a great deal of information regarding the dispersement of the property of Elizabeth Prince Howard Little, David P. Simpson, Alfred L. Jackson, and Alice C. Little. Included are wills, court documents, correspondence with attorneys, and property lists.
Series VIII. Family Files, 1911-61
Subseries 1. Alice Cowles Little Files, 1911-1960 (2f)
This subseries contains articles regarding Alice Simpson’s maternal grandaunt, Alice Cowles Little, including a letter by Alice Simpson’s grandmother Sarah Little to her family, antique shop receipts, lists of family heirlooms and other papers regarding Alice Little’s estate, and a newspaper article and Time magazine article regarding the life of Alice Little with emphasis on her missionary activities in the South Pacific and her aid to the military during the second World War. A separate folder contains numerous applications from members of the Little family for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Subseries 2. David and Clara Simpson Files, 1887-1911, 1918-61 (2f)
This subseries contains incoming and outgoing letters of David and Clara Simpson. They describe family life and events involving Alice Simpson’s siblings, parents, and grand parents. In addition, the files include miscellaneous information regarding Alice Simpson’s parents, Clara Little and David P. Simpson, including memorial booklets, funeral and other tributes from the Cleveland Bar Association and the Freemasons, and various newspaper clippings of stories regarding the Simpsons.
Series IX. Miscellaneous File, 1891-1973, n.d.
This series consists of several miscellaneous items. A folder contains church bulletins including centennial celebrations and other dedications as well as a program each of the Faculty Women’s Club of Ashland College and Women of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Ashland, Ohio. There is also a map of Oberlin listing some of the local merchants. In addition, notes taken of Robert Frost’s visit to campus in 1953 and a newspaper article relating to the visit are included.
In addition, approximately 60 stamped envelopes from her received correspondence are included. In a separate box, are approximately 100 “first day of issue” envelopes with cancellations. Other commemorative covers, including a few international ones, are included in her collection.
Series X. Diaries, 1928-77, n.d.
This series contains fifty yearly diaries which Alice Simpson used to record her daily activities, sometimes the weather, and addresses. Two sparsely used five-year diaries are kept in another box.
Series XI. Bibles, Testaments, and Address books, 1893, 1908-1912, 1944, n.d.
This series consists of three Christian Bibles held by Alice Simpson. Also included are three Testaments—one of which apparently belonged to David Simpson, her father, and another which has parallel English and Hawaiian translations—a Book of Common Prayer, and two address books.
Series XII. Photographs, 1905-68, n.d. (2 boxes)
This series consists of photographs concerning a wide variety of subjects. Many are from Hawaii, but others contain images of family members and friends.