Clarice Brows Thorp

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’d like to introduce one of the newest of the many awesome women represented in our collections: Clarice Brows Thorp.

memo of conversation - Clarice Brows Thorp

(click on the image to see it full size)

Clarice Brows Thorp was born Clarice Florence Brows in 1912 in New York City.  Graduating from Washington Square College in 1933 and New York University School of Law in 1935, she was admitted to the New York State bar in 1936.  Clarice Brows ThorpWhile working as a law clerk and later at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Brows Thorp found most of her professional satisfaction in her vibrant political and legal activities.  A strong proponent of civil liberties, alien rights, women’s engagement, and the Democratic Party, she was an active organizer, speaker, and supporter on behalf of many organizations throughout her life.  She worked for several years with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Democratic National Committee.  Her resume relates that she delivered hundreds of speeches in support of President Roosevelt.

While working as legal staff at Associated Gas and Electric, Brows Thorp met and later married Willard L. Thorp, a prominent economist.  She accompanied and supported Thorp in his political trips and work, attending U.N. sessions and other official functions whenever permitted.  Clarice Brows ThorpShe also assisted in management of the Merrill Center for Economics*.  Brows Thorp remained active in national and local affairs throughout her life, especially in women’s organizations, in defense of civil liberties, and in the Thorps’ eventual hometown of Pelham, Mass.  She was widowed in 1992, and died in 2003. (From the Thorp Papers finding aid; the Clarice Brows Thorp material was processed and described by Blake Spitz, Eileen M. Crosby was the archivist for the collection as a whole.)

The Willard L. (AC 1920) and Clarice Brows Thorp Papers have recently been processed thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and are now open to the public. The finding aid to the papers will be available online in the coming week at

Check out some of the other interesting women who hang out in our stacks:

Emma Willard a pioneering advocate of educational equality for women.

Orra White Hitchcock, a naturalist and artist, who illustrated the geology and natural history publications of her husband, Edward Hitchcock.

Emily Dickinson, of course.

Louise Bogan, a prominent poet and editor in the mid-20th century.

Katrin Janecke Gibney – we hold the the diaries that she kept in secret while working at an assigned job in the German Propaganda Ministry during World War II.

Dora Judd Mattoon Ward, a christian missionary in Turkey and India from 1911-1932.

The women of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family are heavily represented in the family papers, which document the history of one extended family over 270 years or eight complete generations. In addition, a new web exhibit documents the travel of some of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington women: A Lady’s Travelogue.

*The Merrill Center for Economics was a conference hosted every summer from 1953 to 1961 at the Southampton, New York, estate of Charles Merrill (AC 1908). The eight week conference was attended by eminent national and international economists and focused on various economic and policy questions. The Merrill Center for Economics papers are available in Amherst College Archives and Special Collections; substantial material relating to the conference is also present in the Thorp Papers.

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