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Mary Woolley & Jeannette Marks: Life, Love, & Letters

In the Beginning: The Wellesley Years

Spring 1900, "My darling, I cannot write you a little word tonight"

Letter from Woolley to Marks, April 10, 1900.

Flip through the letter | Read the transcription

"Jeannette - Does it seem possible that it is only a few short weeks since we have felt first we could say all that we feel, without restraint or constraint? Two such proud ladies, too, each one afraid that she felt more than the other and determined to keep her own self-respect!" - Excerpt from this letter, sent by Mary Woolley to Jeannette Marks on April 10, 1900

After her graduation from Brown University, Mary Woolley was offered a position teaching Biblical History at Wellesley College. After an interview with President Julia Irvine and assorted Wellesley trustees, Mary Woolley began teaching in the fall of 1895 at age 32.

Jeannette Marks would enter Wellesley College that same fall as an incoming first year, at the age of 20. An introductory course on the Bible was required for all incoming students, and thus Marks and Woolley were introduced. Marks was immediately impressed by Ms. Woolley's attitude and attire, as well as the personal attention she paid to students in her classes.

And Woolley was similarly impressed by Marks. Their friendship broadened and deepened during Marks' time as a student, including trips the two of them took to stay with Woolley's parents back in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Their relationship remained warm for years before either of them was willing to broach the depth of affection and passion between them. The letter presented here details a conversation held in early 1900, after Woolley and Marks had admitted their mutual feelings for one another and begun acknowledging their affection in earnest.