Doris Holmes Blake - Correspondence with Helena "Lena" G. Fowler, 1931-1932

About the Project

In 2020, we’ve had to balance our work responsibilities with caretaking, which is often accompanied by feelings of worry for those we love who may be more susceptible to illness. In letters between Helena “Lena” Fowler and Lucy Wentworth Holmes, mother of Smithsonian entomologist Doris Holmes Blake, we get a better sense of the worry that Blake was likely carrying for her ailing father as she raised her young daughter and tackled work responsibilities at the Smithsonian. The two women corresponded about 1932 incidents during which Blake’s father was convinced that someone was coming to take his wife away and periods of time when he refused to leave his home. Sure, we already know a lot about Blake’s work at the Institution, but this project reveals the heaviness of worrying for her parents that also likely occupied Blake’s thoughts.

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