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Louise Hall Tharp papers

Identifier: M037


Louise Hall Tharp, children's author and historical biographer, was born in 1898 in Oneonta, New York, and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. After attending the Boston School of Fine Arts in 1917-1919, she worked for the Girl Scouts of America in 1925-1934. In 1940, Tharp wrote her first book, Tory Hole. In total, she wrote 17 historical novels for young people and historical biographies for older readers. In 1959, Tharp was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Northeastern University.


  • Creation: 1949-1953


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

Louise Hall Tharp, children's author and historical biographer, was born June 19, 1898 in Oneonta, New York to Newton Marshall Hall and Louise Varney Hall.  Her father was a Congregationalist minister.  At the age of 2, the Hall family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts where Newton accepted the post of minister at the North Congregationalist Church.  From 1917-1919 Louise Hall Tharp attended the School of Fine Arts in Boston.  She began her studies with the intention of becoming an illustrator but acquired a taste for research instead.  In 1925 she married Cary Edwin Tharp, and had two sons, Cary Edwin Jr. and Marshall Allen.

Tharp's early career was spent working with the Girl Scouts of America, where she held a position on the National Brownie Committee from 1925-1934.  Her service also included a stint on the Girl Scout Council in Rochester, New York from 1927-1928.  It was during her career with the Girl Scouts that she first tried her hand in writing, editing the Girl Scout publication Trailmaker (1925-1926).

In 1940 Tharp wrote her first book, Tory Hole, at the request of her two sons who, as budding young readers, were looking for a story with plenty of action. She wrote a number of other such historical novels: Champlain, Northwest Voyagers (1944) about the famous explorer, and Company of Adventurers (1946) which told the story of the Hudson's Bay Trading Company.  Tharp made her mark as an author, however, through her numerous and highly-acclaimed historical biographies.  Her book The Peabody Sisters of Salem (1950) was written about Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody. In 1953 Tharp continued on this theme, writing Until Victory: Horace Mann and Mary Peabody. In 1965 Tharp published possibly her most noted biography, that of Isabella Stewart Gardener the celebrated 19th century Boston art patron and socialite, Mrs. Jack.  The book was highly acclaimed and spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list.

During her many years as author, biographer, and lecturer, Louise Hall Tharp was a member of numerous organizations such as the Society of American Historians, Theta Sigma Phi, the Darien Community Association, the Darien Historical Society, and an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma.  In addition, she was the recipient of numerous awards.  Among these were the Delta Kappa Gamma Educator's Award (1951), the American Library Association Award (1953), and the National Educators Association Award (1953).  On June 14, 1959, Tharp was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Northeastern University.  On this occasion, University President Carl Stephens Ell said of her, "Your biographical and historical writings have the charm of truth told simply, directly, boldly, and charitably."  Tharp received a similar honor from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Massachusetts and an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Rhode Island College.  In total, she authored 17 books.


1.35 cubic feet (2 containers)



System of Arrangement:

Organized into two series: I) Subject Files and 2) Research Files.

Physical Location



  • Commire, Anne, ed. Something About the Author. Detroit: Gale Research  Company, 1972. Vol.  3. pp. 223-224.
  • Contemporary Authors. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1967. Vols. 1-4. 1st rev.
  • Tharp, Louise Hall. Mrs. Jack. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1968. [N5220 .G26 T47 1968]
  • ------------------ The Peabody Sisters of Salem. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1950. [CS71. P35 1950x]
  • ------------------ Tory Hole. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1940.
  • ------------------ Until Victory: Horace Mann and Mary Peabody. Boston, Little Brown and Co., 1953. [LB695 .M35 T5]
  • Ell, Carl Stephens.  "Honorary Degree Recipients." Office of the President (Ell), Records, 1883-1974. (A 2).  Northeastern University Libraries Archives and Special Collection Department. Box 27, folder 473.
Finding aid for the Louise Hall Tharp Papers
Finding aid prepared by George Reklaitis
May 1999
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US