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Millicent Todd Bingham papers

Call Number: MS 496D

Scope and Contents

The Millicent Todd Bingham papers are voluminous, since she seldom discarded any scrap of paper during the last thirty years of her life. Although about ten linear feet of miscellaneous notes, shopping lists, routine bills and receipts have been weeded out, the remaining papers occupy eighty-two linear feet. The papers are arranged in eleven series, which relate either to important career interests (e.g., Emily Dickinson) or to types of material (e.g., correspondence).

Selected Correspondence

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Biographical Material
  3. III. Education and Teaching
  4. IV. Geography
  5. V. Emily Dickinson
  6. VI. Conservation
  7. VII. Diaries, Notebooks, and Scrapbooks
  8. VIII. Personal Papers
  9. IX. Legal and Financial
  10. X. Walter Vandyke Bingham Papers
  11. XI. Books about Emily Dickinson

Series I, Correspondence, consists of three sections: Select Correspondence contains letters exchanged with nationally known literary, scientific, academic, and political figures, and with personal friends whose correspondence is of particular importance. Prominent individuals represented include Rachel Carson, Bernard DeVoto, Gilbert H. Grosvenor, William Dean Howells, Amy Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, George Herbert Palmer, Margaret Chase Smith, George W. Wickersham, Robert M. Yerkes, and Stark Young. Family Correspondence contains letters exchanged with a wide circle of family members. General Correspondence contains all other letters, except those dealing with subjects for which separate series have been created. Nearly every series contains some correspondence, and there are significant amounts of correspondence relating to Emily Dickinson, conservation, and legal and financial Series V, VI, and IX, respectively.

Series II, Biographical Material, contains papers of particular biographical interest, including: biographical sketches of Mrs. Bingham, genealogical items, certificates, autobiographical notes, news clippings, and health records relating to various illnesses, psychiatric visits, her death, and funeral. Of special interest are Mrs. Bingham's reminiscences, written periodically throughout her life.

Series III, Education and Teaching, contains: juvenile writings, drawings, notes, and printed matter; compositions, notebooks, and other student papers from private schools; essays, class notes in various subjects, programs, catalogues, news clippings, and other papers from Vassar College (1898-1902); class notes on geography, geology, and other subjects, and additional papers relating to her graduate study at the Sorbonne, the University of Berlin, Radcliffe College, Harvard University, and the University of Grenoble (1905-1923); and papers relating to her teaching positions at Vassar College, Wellesley College, the University of Grenoble, Columbia University, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Series IV, Geography, contains papers relating to Millicent Todd Bingham's career as a geographer, primarily from 1913 to 1932. Correspondence relates to her research and writings, to professional organizations, and to other interests in geography. Writings contains drafts, published editions, advertising materials, reviews, and notes for her books and articles on geography, including Peru, a Land of Contrasts, Geography of France, "An Investigation of Geographic Controls in Peru," and "The City of Miami and Southeastern Florida." Professional Organizations contains papers on the Congrès International de Géographie, the Society of Women Geographers, the Association of American Geographers, and other organizations. Printed Matter consists of geographical articles, pamphlets, books, programs, and newspaper clippings.

Series V, Emily Dickinson, provides detailed documentation of Millicent Todd Bingham's research and writing about Emily Dickinson. Research Correspondence contains replies to her requests for information about Emily Dickinson's friends, relatives, and ancestors, used primarily for Emily Dickinson's Home.

Publication Correspondence is a large file of letters dealing with publication of Mrs. Bingham's books about Dickinson, her donation of Dickinson poems and letters to Amherst College, and requests to publish excerpts from her writings. From 1950 to 1954, most of the correspondence concerns the controversy with Harvard over ownership of the rights of the Dickinson poems. Important correspondents include Alexander S. Andrews, lawyer for Harper and Brothers; Elizabeth Lawrence and Cass Canfield, Harper's editors; Edward Stafford, Mrs. Bingham's lawyer; Charles Cole, president of Amherst College; William A. Jackson, director of Houghton Library, Harvard; and James B. Ames, lawyer for Harvard.

Select Correspondence contains letters from important literary figures (including Conrad Aiken, Mark Van Doren, Louis Untermeyer, Bernard DeVoto, and Hervey Allen), from scholars engaged in Dickinson research (including Richard Sewall, Thomas Johnson, Jay Leyda, and George Whicher), from close friends interested in Emily Dickinson, and from others writing to Mrs. Bingham about Dickinson. Especially important are letters from Wallace Keep concerning his memories of visits with Lavinia Dickinson, and letters from Clara Carleton Pearl concerning her aunt's reminiscences of Emily Dickinson.

Books, Articles, and Speeches contains early and final drafts of Mrs. Bingham's books and articles about Dickinson, typescripts of speeches, published articles, and reprints. Especially important is an early draft of Ancestors' Brocades with notations by Mabel Loomis Todd.

Publication Documents and Notes contains legal agreements and other documents relating to the Harvard-Harper's controversy, agreements with publishers, and documents relating to the donation of Dickinson material to Amherst College. This section also contains Mrs. Bingham's notes relating to the Harvard controversy and the donation to Amherst, and notes by Alexander Andrews on legal aspects of the case.

Source Documents and Research Notes contains photostatic copies of all Dickinson poems in Mrs. Bingham's possession and of many letters by Emily and other Dickinson family members. Research notes relate to Mrs. Bingham's books and articles. For Ancestors' Brocades, there are typed copies of letters exchanged by Mabel Loomis Todd, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Lavinia Dickinson, and Thomas Niles of Roberts Brothers concerning the first publication of Emily Dickinson's poems and letters. Notes for Emily Dickinson's Home include copies of wills, correspondence, excerpts from diaries, and scrapbooks of Dickinson's friends and relatives. This section also contains Jay Leyda's notes for his book The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson (1960).

Scrapbooks contains two important albums of the first reviews of Emily Dickinson's poems and letters; other albums with clippings relating to books about Dickinson by various authors, including reviews of all of Millicent Todd Bingham's books; and unbound reviews of books by Bingham, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Thomas H. Johnson, Jay Leyda, and others.

Articles by Others contains published articles about Emily Dickinson, including the Millicent Todd Bingham memorial issue of the "Emily Dickinson Bulletin" (1969 Sep), which includes tributes by leading Dickinson scholars.

Note: For books about Emily Dickinson, with Mrs. Bingham's marginal notes, see Series XI. See also the microfilm copy of Emily Dickinson manuscripts which Mrs. Bingham donated to Amherst College.

Series VI, Conservation, relates to Mrs. Bingham's activities on behalf of conservation, particularly the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary and the Audubon Nature Camp on Hog Island, Maine, and the Mabel Loomis Todd Forest near Amherst. Correspondence concerns the development and management of these three interests and other aspects of conservation. Writings includes articles about Hog Island, the Todd Forest, and other topics, by Millicent Todd Bingham, Walter VanDyke Bingham, Mabel Loomis Todd, and Eben Jenks Loomis. Hog Island and Maine consists of maps, notes, articles, legal and financial documents, and printed matter relating to the region. Audubon Nature Camp contains copies of Mrs. Bingham's speeches to campers, reports, notes, press releases, lists of campers and staff, legal documents, brochures, articles, and news clippings, all relating to the camp and to the National Audubon Society. This section also includes papers concerning the donation of the Todd Wildlife Sanctury in 1960. Mabel Loomis Todd Forest (Pelham Knob) includes papers concerning the 1961 presentation ceremony, deeds, surveys, notes, clippings, and reference material. The final section, General Conservation, includes manuscripts, articles, and printed matter concerning the National Audubon Society, several state Audubon societies, the United States Department of the Interior, and other conservation-related groups and subjects.

Series VII, Diaries, Notebooks and Scrapbooks, consists of: bound journals, mostly kept during visits to Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, and Mexico; unbound journals; a complete set of diaries covering the years 1888-1968; engagement calendars; memorandum books; notebooks; autograph and guest books; and personal scrapbooks, including one about her wedding.

Series VIII, Personal Papers, contains a wide range of materials not subsumed under the categories of the other series. Writings contains drafts, printed copies, notes, clippings, reviews, correspondence, and other materials concerning Mrs. Bingham's writings about her personal experiences, travels, relatives, and friends. Persons consists of printed matter, clippings, notes, correspondence and other papers on relatives, friends, nationally-known individuals, and others in whom Mrs. Bingham was interested. Of special importance are papers concerning Walter VanDyke Bingham, the Walter VanDyke Bingham Memorial Lectures, Eleonora Duse, Mary Harris (a black maid whom the Binghams aided in her financial and legal difficulties), Amy Lowell (including materials about the word association test which Walter Bingham gave her and the poem "To a Gentleman," which she addressed to him in response), Marta Milinowski, George Herbert Palmer, Henry David Thoreau, David Peck Todd, and Mabel Loomis Todd.

Clubs and Organizations consists of printed matter and some manuscript material on numerous organizations, including: Amherst College, the Convent Alumnae Association of Mrs. Stearns' School, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Historical Association of Southern Florida, the International Congress of Psychology, the Literary Society of Washington, D. C., the Pan-American League, Vassar College, the Westinghouse Talent Search, and many others. Subject Files includes travel notes and memorabilia from around the world; papers relating to her service in France during World War I; correspondence and other papers concerning donation of the Todd-Bingham Papers to Yale University; miscellaneous manuscripts; and printed matter.

Series IX, Legal and Financial, consists of papers regarding Millicent and Walter Bingham's legal and financial affairs. Correspondence ranges from routine household finances to major legal concerns. Legal Papers includes passports, wills, papers relating to the estates of David Peck Todd, Mabel Loomis Todd, and Walter VanDyke Bingham, and papers concerning the Arthur Curtiss James Trust. Property and Real Estate contains information about leases, mortgages sales agreements, taxes, rental receipts, insurance, a major theft of household property (1937), inventories of personal property, maintenance and storage, and gifts. Stocks consists of certificates, statements, summaries, notes, and receipts for investments made by Millicent and Walter Bingham. Taxes includes tax forms, notes, and supporting documents for their federal income tax returns, income taxes for Massachusetts and New York, and income and property taxes for the District of Columbia. Bills and Receipts consists of royalty statements for Mr. and Mrs. Bingham and David Todd, and a random sampling of their bills and receipts. Routine bills and receipts and Mrs. Bingham's check stub books have been discarded.

Series X, Walter Vandyke Bingham Papers, consists of a small amount of papers which were not donated with the rest of his professional papers to Carnegie-Mellon University. These include correspondence, biographical material, writings (including a bound set of his "Collected Papers"), war service material (1941-1945), financial records, clippings, printed matter, and memorabilia.

Series XI, Books about Emily Dickinson, consists of copies of books by Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Millicent Todd Bingham, Thomas H. Johnson, Mabel Loomis Todd, and others. These books are annotated, primarily by Mrs. Bingham, and her notes provide interesting glimpses of her work on Emily Dickinson. There is also one folder containing copies of inscriptions to Mrs. Bingham in presentation copies given by various Dickinson scholars.

Photographs relating to Millicent Todd Bingham and Walter Van Dyke Bingham are arranged in the Todd-Bingham Picture Collection (Ms. Group Number 496E).


  • 1865-1968


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

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 Millicent Todd Bingham, 1964-1968.


Arranged in eleven series: I. Correspondence. II. Biographical Material. III. Education and Teaching. IV. Geography. V. Emily Dickinson. VI. Conservation. VII. Diaries, Notebooks, and Scrapbooks. VIII. Personal Papers. IX. Legal and Financial. X. Walter Van Dyke Bingham Papers. XI. Books About Emily Dickinson.

Related Material

Associated material: Loomis-Wilder Family Papers (MS 496A)

Associated material: David Peck Todd Papers (MS 496B)

Associated material: Mabel Loomis Todd Papers (MS 496C)

Associated material: Todd-Bingham Picture Collection (MS 496E)

Associated material: Todd-Bingham Memorabilia Collection (MS 496F)


82 Linear Feet (200 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


One-fifth of the papers are devoted to correspondence, books, articles, speeches and research notes relating to her publication of Emily Dickinson's poems in Bolts of Melody (1945) and three subsequent books about Emily Dickinson. Bingham's education as well as her professional life as a teacher of French and as a geographer, particularly of Peru, are thoroughly documented with correspondence, research notes, publications and other papers (1885-1929).

Biographical / Historical

Millicent Todd Bingham, geographer, author, and editor of Emily Dickinson's poems and letters, was born February 5, 1880, in Washington, D.C. Her father, David Peck Todd, was a professor of astronomy at Amherst College from 1881 to 1917. Her mother, Mabel (Loomis) Todd, was a noted lecturer and author who, with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, first edited the poems and letters of her Amherst neighbor, Emily Dickinson. (Note: for biographical information about David Peck Todd and Mabel Loomis Todd, see the registers for their papers, MSS Groups 496B and 496C.)

Millicent Todd attended private schools in Amherst and Boston and in 1902 graduated from Vassar College. She was an instructor of French at Vassar (1902-1904) and at Wellesley College (1906-1907). In 1905-1906, she studied at the Sorbonne, University of Paris, and in 1909-1910 at the University of Berlin. Her interest in geography developed from travels to remote parts of the world, when she accompanied her father on astronomical expeditions to the Dutch East Indies (1901), Tripoli (1905), Chile and Peru (1907), and Kiev, Russia (1914). In 1916, she began graduate studies in geography and geology at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, receiving the M.A. degree in 1917 and the Ph.D. in 1923.

In 1918-1919 she worked at a YMCA canteen at a hospital in Angers, France, and lectured on geography to American soldiers at the University of Grenoble, under the U.S. Army Education Corps. At the same time, she studied geography under Raoul Blanchard at Grenoble. In 1928-1929, she returned to teaching at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. Her writings on geography include: Peru, a Land of Contrasts (1914); "An Investigation of Geographic Controls in Peru" (Ph.D. dissertation, 1923); "La Floride du Sud-est et la Ville de Miami" (1932), and "Miami, a Study in Urban Geography" (1948). In addition, she translated Raoul Blanchard's Geography of France (1919), and Vidal de la Blache's Principles of Human Geography (1926).

While in France during World War I, Millicent Todd became engaged to Joe C. Thomas, a soldier who later broke the engagement. On December 4, 1920, she married Walter VanDyke Bingham, a psychologist whom she had met several years earlier. Bingham was born October 20, 1880. He graduated from Beloit College in 1901, received the M.A. degree from Harvard in 1907 and the Ph.D from the University of Chicago in 1908. From 1915 to 1924, he was professor of psychology and head of the division of applied psychology at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Bingham directed the Personnel Research Federation from 1924 to 1934 and served with the Army's Committee on classification of personnel during both world wars. He wrote several books on psychology and industrial (employment) psychology.

After her return from an international geographical congress in Paris in 1931, Millicent Todd Bingham was asked by her mother to open a chest containing manuscript poems and letters written by Emily Dickinson. For over thirty years, Mabel Loomis Todd had been prevented from publishing these papers by legal controversies with Dickinson relatives. She urged Millicent to publish the remaining poems and letters. Soon after her mother's death in 1932, Mrs. Bingham reluctantly abandoned her career in geography to begin what became a personal crusade to publish Emily Dickinson's manuscripts and to bolster Mabel Loomis Todd's reputation as the person most responsible for bringing Emily Dickinson's poetry to public attention. In 1945, she edited Bolts of Melody, a collection of 600 previously unpublished poems, and published Ancestors' Brocades, a narrative describing the controversy between Mabel Loomis Todd and the Dickinson family over publication rights to the poems. In 1950, Mrs. Bingham herself became embroiled in legal battles when her publisher, Harper and Brothers, clashed with Harvard University over ownership of the Dickinson publication rights. This controversy delayed publication of Emily Dickinson's Home, a collection of family letters, until 1955. Meanwhile, by special agreement with Harvard, she published Emily Dickinson - A Revelation (1954), containing some of Dickinson's previously unpublished letters.

Despite her preoccupation with Emily Dickinson's work, Millicent Todd Bingham sustained her prevailing interest in geography, becoming involved in a number of conservation and natural history activities. In 1935, she established the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary in memory of her mother, with family property on Hog Island, Muscongus Bay, Maine. The sanctuary was administered by the National Audubon Society, which established on the island its first camp for the instruction of adults in principles of conservation. Mrs. Bingham officially donated the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary to the National Audubon Society in 1960, One year later she presented the Mabel Loomis Todd Forest, located on Mount Orient in Pelham, Massachusetts, to Amherst College. The forest was dedicated to her mother, who had purchased the eighty-seven acre tract in 1909 to preserve it from commercial exploitation.

In addition to her writings on geography, Emily Dickinson, and conservation, Millicent Todd Bingham wrote numerous articles on travel, solar eclipses, family and friends. Her books include The Life of Mary S. Stearns (1909), Eben Jenks Loomis (1913), and Mabel Loomis Todd, Her Contributions to the Town of Amherst (1935). She received honorary degrees from Dickinson College in 1952, and from Amherst College in 1957.

After her husband's death on July 7, 1952, Mrs. Bingham established the Walter VanDyke Bingham Memorial Lectures in psychology, given at various universities in the United States and England. She spent much of her remaining years seeking to ensure the historical reputations of her family, including Eben Jenks Loomis, Mahlon Loomis, John Wilder, David Peck Todd, Mabel Loomis Todd, and herself. Millicent Todd Bingham died December 1, 1968, in Washington, D.C., at the age of eighty-eight.

Appendix - Records and Tapes

These items have been transferred to Historical Sound Recordings.

  1. Item No.1. 33 1/3 record made from tape of Walter VanDyke Bingham's speech to campers at Audubon Nature Camp in Maine. (Duplicate tape copy destroyed), 1950 Jul 10
  2. Item No.2. Millicent Todd Bingham speaking at Audubon Nature Camp in Maine and Walter VanDyke Bingham's speech to campers. (Duplicate tape destroyed), 1950 Jul 10
  3. Item No.3. Millicent Todd Bingham giving an account of the history of the Audubon Camp interspersed with stories of her own life. Recounts Walter's work and her decision to turn Hog Island over to the Audubon Society., [1963 Jul 15]
  4. Item No.4. Millicent Todd Bingham's address to Audubon campers. She mentions important dates in Hog Island's history and people who have worked at the camp. At the end of the tape she talks about her work on Emily Dickinson and her meeting with Richard Sewall., 1962 Aug 17
  5. Item No.5. Millicent Todd Bingham's talk to campers at the fourth session of the Audubon Camp in Maine., 1961 Aug 9
  6. Item No.6-7. Millicent Todd Bingham recording the history of legal disputes concerning the Emily Dickinson materials from the time of ED's death until 1951., [1955 Nov 11]
  7. Item No.8-9. Discourse between Millicent Todd Bingham and Richard Sewall concerning his biography of Emily Dickinson., [1963 Jun 17]
  8. Item No.10-13. Millicent Todd Bingham recounting her life story and work., 1959 May 3-29
  9. Item No.14. Walter VanDyke Bingham talking to Millicent Todd Bingham about his trip to Chicago. Tape made from the original audograph. (Duplicate tape destroyed), 1951 Apr

Processing Information

The Millicent Todd Bingham Papers were given to Yale University Library by Millicent Todd Bingham as part of the large Todd-Bingham collection. After initial arrangements to donate the collection of family papers to Amherst College had been cancelled, Mrs. Bingham began negotiations with the Yale University Library in 1960. The papers were given to Yale in several shipments fron 1964 to 1968. Mrs. Gladys MacKenzie began processing of the Todd-Bingham collection in 1957, under Mrs. Bingham's supervision, and continued organizing the papers before and after their transfer to Yale. (For Mrs. Bingham's correspondence with Yale, see Series VIII, boxes 174-175.) In 1971, a thorough reorganization of the collection was begun, dividing the Todd-Bingham papers into five separate manuscript groups: Loomis-Wilder Family Papers, David Peck Todd Papers, Mabel Loomis Todd Papers, Millicent Todd Bingham Papers, and Todd-Bingham Picture Collection. Mrs. Bingham deposited the professional papers of Walter VanDyke Bingham at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Guide to the Millicent Todd Bingham Papers
by Randall C. Jimerson
May 1979
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

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