The Rebecca Latimer Papers documents the professional career of writer, Rebecca Latimer. The bulk of the collection contains
typescript manuscripts of substantial autobiographical works and juvenile fiction, and periodical articles published in the
1950s and 1960s. Most of these articles are of episodes in Turkey. Additionally, the collection contains Latimer’s lifetime
collection of correspondence.
Rebecca McRae Haigh Latimer was born in Rutherford, New Jersey on September 9, 1905. She was taught by an aunt until entering
public school at the seventh grade level in Essex Fells and graduated from high school in Cranford in three years at the age
of sixteen. By 1929 she had surprised herself by marrying a “newly-minted” Foreign Service officer, Frederick P. Latimer,
Jr., and setting off for Latin America. As the wife of a Foreign Service officer, Rebecca Latimer spent most of twenty-five
years abroad: El Salvador (1929-1931), Estonia (1931-1933), Finland (1933-1936), Turkey (1936-1941 and 1950-1954), Honduras
(1941-1943), and Panama (1946-1950). From 1946 to 1950 they were stationed in the United States, mainly in Washington, D.C.
and Princeton, N.J. She found that a Foreign Service wife was as much occupied with official duties as was her husband and
as confined within rigid protocols, and that writing for publication was not approved behavior. She continued to develop
manuscripts for future publication and meanwhile kept up her copious journals, filled with personal and cultural observations.
She wrote extensively of everyone she met (and even of strangers observed, whose natures she would attempt to imagine or intuit)
all her life. Bex and Fred Latimer were not typical of State Department people in foreign posts. They were intensely curious
about the countries they lived in and interested in meeting and knowing their inhabitants, whereas most of their colleagues
limited their social life to themselves and other Americans. Rebecca spoke French, German, Spanish and Turkish. Expectably,
their political views were much more liberal than those of their colleagues. Their move to Sonoma, California in the late
1970s was made in order to be closer to their two sons. They became deeply involved in that community. Rebecca Latimer was
nominated “Sonoma Treasure” for 1999 by five of her numerous local friends. She died on August 10, 2000, a month before her
Contact the Special Collections Curator, F. W. Olin Library, Mills College for copyright and permission to publish information.