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Freeman Family archives

 Collection
Identifier: C-79
The archive consists of materials relating to Stephen Freeman’s life and work, as well as documents and photographs of his and his wife Ruth’s ancestors and family. Photographs, letters and documents chronicle Freeman’s ancestors as well as those of his wife, Ruth Hayden Freeman, and allow for a comparative study of four middle-class families (Freeman, Reed, Hayden, and Smith) from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. The archive also holds Stephen and Ruth’s personal papers, including Freeman’s documents and flight logs while serving as a WWI Naval Aviator, daily journals from 1913 to 1998, and voluminous materials related to the Freeman family’s travels around the world. Dr. Freeman’s professional papers document his tenure as chair of the French Department from 1925 to 1959, as Dean of Language Schools and Director of Graduate Schools Abroad, as Vice President and, on three separate occasions, as Acting President of the College. Correspondence is both personal and professional. Oversize boxes are located on RBMS Flat Oversize Shelf 55.

Dates

  • 1870 - 2000

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email: specialcollections@middlebury.edu

Extent

66 Boxes

1 Folder

Overview

Spanning 130 years in the history of four families, the Freeman Family Archives traces the ancestry, education and professional career of Dr. Stephen A. Freeman, culminating in his pivotal role at Middlebury College. Photographs, letters and documents illuminate Freeman’s ancestors as well as those of his wife, Ruth Hayden Freeman, and allow for a comparative study of four middle-class families (Freeman, Reed, Hayden, and Smith) from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. The archive also holds Freeman and wife’s personal papers, including Stephen’s documents and flight logs while serving as a WWI Naval Aviator, daily journals from 1913 to 1998, and voluminous materials related to the Freeman family’s travels around the world. Their life-long love of travel began with a tour of a Europe still in ruins from the Great War, included two trips around the world, and ended with a 1970s journey to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. The crux of the collection, however, is Dr. Freeman’s professional papers, which document his tenure as chair of the French Department from 1925 to 1959, as Dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad, as Vice President and, on three separate occasions, as Acting President of the College. These papers trace Freeman’s philosophy on foreign language education, illuminate the rise to international prominence of the Summer Language Schools and Middlebury Schools Abroad, and serve as testaments to Dr. Freeman’s devotion to cross-cultural interactions and cultural awareness as the basis of a liberal arts education.

Biographical / Historical

Stephen Albert Freeman was born on May 9, 1898, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents were Samuel Albert Freeman, a postman originally from Orleans, Cape Cod, and Mary Reed Freeman, whose family came from Maine. Called Albert by his family, Stephen was the elder of two children, his younger brother Allan being born in 1902. Albert spent his childhood alternating between Cambridge and Orleans.

Freeman was educated at Harvard Grammar School and Cambridge High and Latin School before entering Harvard College in 1914. Elected in his junior year to Phi Beta Kappa, Freeman displayed a natural gift for languages, learning French, German, Latin and Greek before the entry of the United States into WWI interrupted his studies. Freeman was first denied the chance to enlist as he failed his medical inspection, being declared too small for service, but on his second try was accepted into the Naval Aviation school at MIT. He was commissioned Naval Aviator 1091, and was shipped out to Hampton Roads and later Pensacola, Florida, as a flight instructor. With the end of the war, Freeman returned to Harvard and graduated, Magma Cum Laude, with the Class of 1919 with a degree in Romance languages.

Freeman applied for and received an American Field Service Fellowship to study languages and culture in France. He embarked in 1921, spent a semester in Bordeaux, and then moved to the University of Paris to study literature. Freeman travelled widely while on his fellowship, visiting Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as touring around France, and it instilled in him a lifelong love of travel. Returning to the United States in 1922, Freeman completed his PhD work at Harvard University in 1923 with his dissertation, The Development of Victor Hugo’s Theory of the Grotesque Before the Preface de Cromwell.

Also in 1923, Stephen Freeman married Ruth Hayden. They had known each other since 1917, and began a long courtship that continued while Freeman was in Europe. The Hayden family also lived in Cambridge, having moved there from Nova Scotia. Ruth’s father, Frederick, ran a successful painting and paper hanging shop, and was at one time president of the Harvard Square Businessmen’s Association. Ruth and Stephen had three children: Hope, Caroline, and Harvey.

After completing his doctorate, Dr. Freeman took a job as professor of French at Brown University. After two years, Andre Morize, his mentor and Harvard doctoral advisor, enticed Freeman to Middlebury College in 1925 in order to rebuild the Romance languages program. Accepting the job as Chairman of the French Department, Freeman also became Dean of the French Summer School and taught there. Early in his tenure he oversaw the building of the Château, at the time the largest French-only dormitory in the country. Freeman was promoted to Director of the Language Schools in 1946, a position that he would retain until his retirement in 1970. During this time, Freeman oversaw the expansion of the program, adding the Chinese and Japanese schools and supervising the development of the state-of-the-art language laboratory at Sunderland Language Center. After WWII, the US Army enlisted Freeman’s aid in developing a languages program at the Army University in Biarritz, France, in which GIs could learn French, Spanish or German. Perhaps as a result of this collaboration, Freeman pushed for and helped found in 1949 the first Middlebury College Graduate School Abroad, in Paris. In subsequent years, he directed the founding of schools in Spain, Germany and Italy, thereby expanding the College’s international prominence in language education.

Freeman also served the College in its time of need, first serving as Acting President of the College in 1940. When President Moody retired, Freeman guided Middlebury through the dark years of 1942-1943, before President Stratton took office. Upon his appointment in 1943, Stratton made Freeman his Vice President. Freeman served as acting President again, in 1952. He taught his last class in 1963, then retired as Vice President Emeritus, but he continued as director of the Language Schools until 1970.

After his retirement Freeman continued to keep busy by lecturing, giving sermons at the Congregational Church in Middlebury center, and traveling around the world with Ruth. He wrote two books, one on the history of the language schools and the other a history of his church. He was honored with awards and honorary degrees, including the French Legion of Honor and Commandeur a l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques. In 1993 the Trustees voted to rename the Social Dining Unit complex the Freeman International Center, in honor of Freeman’s contributions to the college.

Ruth Hayden Freeman passed away on August 9, 1983, shortly after they celebrated their 60th anniversary, but Stephen continued to be a cornerstone of the local community. One of his favorite activities was leading the annual Memorial Day Parade as honorary Grand Marshal, in which he would dress in his WWI uniform. Stephen continued to live in his home at 24 South Street until 1998, when a series of strokes led to his admittance at Shard Villa Retirement Homes, where he passed away on July 12, 1999, at the age of 101.

Arrangement

The Freeman Family Archives is arranged in 8 series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Personal Papers (6 subseries); Series III: Professional Papers (4 subseries); Series IV: Photos (4 subseries); Series V: Postcards; Series VI: Slides; Series VII: Films (3 subseries); Series VIII: Realia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archives were donated to Middlebury College in 2006 by Hope Freeman-Schultz, Caroline Freeman and Harvey Freeman, children of Stephen A. Freeman.

Related Materials

A13; Faculty Pamphlet Files; A2 President; F6 Photo File French Summer School Photographs; F6.2 Office of the Director

Stephen A. Freeman Papers, 1930-1999. Sheldon Museum Research Center, Middlebury, Vt.

Freeman, Stephen A. Undergraduate Study Abroad. New York: Institute of International Education, 1964.

Freeman, Stephen A. Let Us Build Bridges. Middlebury, Vt: Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1968.

Freeman, Stephen A. Planning for Study Abroad. New York: Institute of International Education, 1972.

Freeman, Stephen A. The Middlebury College Foreign Language Schools, 1915-1970: The Story of a Unique Idea. Middlebury, Vt: Middlebury College Press, 1975.

Freeman, Stephen A. The Congregational Church of Middlebury Vermont, 1790-1990. Middlebury, Vt.: Middlebury Congregational Church, 1990.

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Contact:
Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States