Thursday, December 14, 2017
Photo of Audrey C. Foote at age 18, sent to her future husband Timothy, 1944. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryPhoto of Audrey C. Foote at age 18, sent to her future husband Timothy, 1944. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

The Schlesinger staff is pleased to announce that the guide for the Audrey C. Foote papers is now available online. Foote (1926–2012) was a writer, scholar, and college teacher who grew up in Darien, Connecticut, and New York City. She graduated from Wellesley College (BA 1948), where she studied English. During that same year, she married Timothy G. Foote, who served with the United States Navy. The couple lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she studied at Harvard (MA 1949) while he finished his senior year.

They had five children: Colin (1951), Victoria (1954), Valerie (1955), and Andrew Todhunter (1966); their first child, Christopher, died during infancy in 1950. Timothy worked as a writer and editor for Time and Life, and they lived in a number of places, including New York, Missouri, Connecticut, and France.

Foote at age 14, 1940. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryFoote at age 14, 1940. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryThe majority of the Foote collection consists of love letters between Audrey and Timothy during their courtship, while she was a student at Wellesley College and he was in the Navy. In one letter, Foote coyly responds to Timothy's admission that he didn't think of her very often by saying:

So you don't think of me, eh? I am cut to the quick. Young man, apply yourself! It's merely a matter of forming good habits in your youth. . . . say to yourself, "For five minutes I shall think exclusively of Audrey." Sounds hard? Well, of course it takes practice. The first few times you'll probably fall asleep but if you keep at it you may be able to work up to twenty minutes . . . (June 20, 1944)

Foote wrote nearly 150 letters to her parents while living in Paris from 1954 to 1958. During this time, she gave birth to two daughters, Victoria and Valerie. According to her husband, when Foote learned she was pregnant with their second daughter only 13 months after the first, she did not tell her parents because she did not want to "agitate" them. After Valerie's birth, she wrote to her parents saying:

. . . I think you are sweet not to have reproached me for not telling you sooner. How I wish you could see this little lamb; there is no question that she is the handsomest baby I have had, if not the handsomest anyone has ever had! (September 14, 1955)

Foote also kept diaries for most of her life. Her earlier diaries provide a glimpse into her girlhood through daily accounts, snapshots with friends, cards, and pressed flowers. These diaries often have lists of her favorite movies, songs, books, and nicknames for her friends on the last few pages.

Interestingly, Foote reread all her diaries between 2001 and 2004 and made marks and marginal comments in red crayon or ink. The Audrey C. Foote papers are a wealth of information on girlhood, feminism, World War II sexual customs, marriage difficulties, and the rights of animals.

Foote's diary, 1940. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryFoote's diary, 1940. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

Author: 
Amber L. Moore