Skip to main content

Laird family papers

Call Number: MS 1207

Scope and Contents

The chief figure in the Laird Family Papers is Thelma Fae Laird, nurse and educator. The collection most fully documents her service in the Navy Nursing Corps during World War II, mostly in the South Pacific; there are letters to family, photographs, and printed matter and memorabilia from this period. But there are also materials from her school years, her work for the American Nurses' Association (1947-51), and her last academic position at Florence-Darlington Technical Education Center (1972-73). Her papers also contain a long and cordial correspondence with Bernard M. Baruch.

Thelma Laird's wartime letters to her parents make up most of the family correspondence. But the collection does include papers of Thelma's mother, Sara O'Neil Laird, concerning her work as a Wisconsin school teacher at the turn of the century; correspondence of her father, Allan Max Laird, concerning Wisconsin politics, a French lawsuit on behalf of his father's pearl business, and his work as a minister in Elmira, N.Y.; correspondence and obituary clippings concerning her brother, Joseph M. Laird; and other papers and photographs of various members of the Laird and O'Neil families.

There are also two folders of letters written by five servicemen to their families and friends. All were patients at the U.S. Navy Base Mobile Hospital #4 (c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco) in September 1943, when the letters were written; one serviceman mentions being in a malaria ward, while two others were receiving psychiatric treatment. Though the envelopes all have postage, none is postmarked. It is not known why the letters were not sent, or how they came into Thelma Laird's possession. These letters, and transcripts of Thelma Laird's school records, are closed to research for 75 years from the date of their creation.

The papers were given to Yale by Janet Grant Rudnicki, Executrix of Thelma Laird's Estate, in September 1980.


  • 1890-1980


Conditions Governing Access

Correspondence and school records in Box 4 are closed until January 1, 2029.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Janet Grant Rudnicki, executrix of Thelma Laird's estate, 1980.


2.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The principal figures in these papers are Thelma Fae Laird, nurse and educator, and her immediate family. Photographs and memorabilia collected during her service in the Navy Nurse Corps during World War II make up the largest part of the papers. Also in the collection are the letters of her father, Allan Max Laird, on Wisconsin politics and of her mother, Sara O'Neil Laird, describing her life as a school teacher in Wisconsin at the turn of the century. The activities of her brother, Joseph M. Laird, and other members of the Laird and O'Neil families are reflected in family correspondence (1901-1954), photographs and memorabilia.

Biographical / Historical

Thelma Fae Laird: nurse; served in Navy Nursing Corps during World War II, and retired with rank of lieutenant commander; director of nursing at Memorial Hospital, Sloan Kettering Institute; on the faculty of University of Southern California at Berkeley; active in the American Cancer Society.

Guide to the Laird Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by John Espy
June 1981
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours