McCormick, Ada Peirce, 1888-1974.

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McCormick, Ada Peirce, 1888-1974.

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McCormick, Ada Peirce, 1888-1974.


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Biographical History

Social activist, author, editor of Letter Magazine (Tucson, Arizona), and founder of the Little Chapel of All Nations.

From the description of Papers of Ada Peirce McCormick, 1881-1978 (1920-1974). (University of Arizona). WorldCat record id: 41535960

Ada Stetson Peirce was born in Bangor, Maine, on March 28, 1888, to Mellen C. and Ann Hayford Peirce. The youngest of four children, she grew up in a prosperous and conservative environment. Ada's post-secondary education included the Ogontz School, Garland School of Homemaking, Boston School of Social Workers, a brief stint at Radcliffe, and the University of Arizona, where she earned a degree in 1932. In 1912, while in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, she met Fred Culver McCormick through a mutual acquaintance. The two married on July 31, 1915, after carrying on a long-distance romance. They moved to Williamsport where Fred worked in his father's insurance business. From 1925 to 1930, Ada gave lectures on marriage and homemaking at various eastern colleges, establishing a national reputation.

The McCormicks relocated to Tucson, Arizona, in 1931 for health reasons. Fred joined the University of Arizona faculty as Professor of English and served as the managing editor of the Arizona Quarterly . In 1937, Ada Peirce McCormick (APM) started the Chapel of Wandering Scholars near the University of Arizona. It later became Cabot Chapel and, in 1954, was incorporated as the non-denominational Little Chapel of All Nations to "promote the God-seeking impulses in mankind."

APM was active in community affairs on a number of different fronts. In 1942, she lobbied to create a recreational facility in Tucson for African-American soldiers, an effort that met with heated opposition from many Tucsonans. The Negro United Service Organization presented her with a commendation for her controversial work. APM's passion for social justice and human rights prompted her to found Letter, a national quarterly devoted to promoting dialogue on national and international problems and to better relationships between individuals and nations. The first issue appeared in January, 1943. Although it soon became an irregular quarterly, subsequent issues contained works by noted authors and APM editorials on relationships and international concerns. Letter gave numerous awards to individuals in various fields for their moral courage, intellect and devotion to country. The last issue was printed in 1948.

A published author and prolific letter writer, APM conducted research on myriad issues and corresponded with many of the social and political leaders, academics, industry executives, and literary figures of her time. Over the years APM received many awards and recognitions for her accomplishments, including, in 1960, the University of Arizona 75th Anniversary Medallion for her religious work with students. Preceded in death by her husband, APM passed away August 4, 1974. For additional information on her life, see: Ada: The Biography of a Woman Ahead of Her Time, by Roger J. O'Mara. (Call number, F29 B2 M36 1988).

From the guide to the Ada Peirce McCormick papers, 1881-1978 (bulk 1920-1974), (University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections)



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