SEYDELL, MILDRED, 1889-1988.
Mildred Seydell papers, 1842-1987

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Seydell, Mildred, 1889-1988.
Title: Mildred Seydell papers, 1842-1987
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 449
Extent:67.5 linear ft. (150 boxes), 47 oversized papers (OP), and 1 framed item (FR)
Abstract:Papers of journalist, lecturer, and author Mildred Seydell containing correspondence, writings, personal and family records, and memorabilia, photographs, and source material used for her writings.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access this collection.

Special restrictions apply: Selected correspondence in Series 1 is restricted.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in This Repository

Paul Bernard Seydel collection


Gift, 1964, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Mildred Seydell papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Initial processing by Julia Kirk Blackwelder, 1975. Last revision with additions by Barbara J. Mann, 1991.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Mildred Rutherford (Woolley) Seydell (b. March 21, 1889), journalist, lecturer, and author was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Little Berry Vasser Woolley, a businessman and lawyer, and Bessie Rutherford Woolley, She attended Washington Seminary in Atlanta, Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens (graduated 1906), and the Sorbonne (1907-1908). On February 5, 1910, she was married to Paul Bernard Seydel,* a native of Belgium, whom she had met while a student in Paris. Dr. Seydel was a research chemist, manufacturer of chemical dyes for the textile industry, and founder and president of the Seydel-Woolley Company of Atlanta. During the early years of their marriage, the Seydels lived in New Jersey and Nitro, West Virginia, where Paul Seydel's business interests were centered, but in 1923 they moved back to Atlanta and made that city their permanent home. Paul and Mildred Seydel had two children, Paul Vasser Seydel and John Rutherford Seydel. After Paul Seydel's death in 1942, Mildred Seydell continued to live and work in Atlanta until December, 1947, when she was married to Max Seydel, brother of her first husband, in Brussels, Belgium. Mildred and Max Seydel lived in Belgium from 1947 until 1967 when they established their residence in Atlanta.

Mildred Seydell began a career in journalism in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1922. When her husband's business floundered as a result of the post-World War I depression in the American dye industry, Mrs. Seydell took a post as columnist for the Charleston Gazette (1922-1923). It was here that she adopted the pen name Mildred Seydell which she used throughout her career. In 1924 she took a position on the Atlanta Georgian, one of a group of newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, and, with brief interruptions, was on the staff of the Atlanta Georgian until it ceased publication in 1939. Within a short time, she had advanced from a part-time society writer to a regular columnist and feature writer. From 1926 until 1931 she wrote an advice column titled "What Would You Do?". In 1931 the column title was changed to "All in a Day" and the column became a vehicle for the direct expression of Mrs. Seydell's opinions and experiences. She continued to write in this format until 1939, although the title was again changed in 1933 to "Mildred Seydell Says."

The popular columnist traveled widely in the United States and abroad as a representative for the Hearst newspapers. In 1925 she was sent to cover the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, and wrote a series of syndicated articles which featured character analysis of the trial participants. In 1926 she served as a member of the Hearst Crime Commission, visiting prisons in several European countries to investigate criminal rehabilitation and crime rates. During this trip she interviewed Benito Mussolini and other international figures, publishing a series of articles entitled "Talks with Celebrities." These features established Mrs. Seydell's reputation as an interviewer and over the next decade she talked with and wrote about many of the famous people of the day, including Mrs. Edward Benes, Jean Sibelius, Madam Eve Curie, and Hollywood personalities such as Marion Davies, George Cukor, and Bette Davis.

A prolific writer, Mrs. Seydell published several books and edited her own magazine. A novel, Secret Fathers, which dealt with the subject of eugenic babies, was published in 1930 and a volume of inspirational essays, Chin Up! appeared in 1939. For several years, 1941-1947, she edited and published a bi-weekly newspaper, The Think Tank, which featured inspirational items and women's news. After her marriage to Max Seydel and the move to Belgium, she published Seydell Quarterly (1948-1967), a small journal containing poetry, essays, and humorous anecdotes, while contributing articles to the Atlanta Constitution and Atlanta Journal. She also edited Poetry Profile of Belgium (1960) and was the author of a popular guide to her adopted home entitled Come Along to Belgium (1969).

Mildred Seydell was active in many women's organizations including the League of Women Voters, the National Woman's Party, National Federation of Press Women, League of American Pen Women, Pan American League, Atlanta Women's Chamber of Commerce an the Atlanta Woman's Club. She served as chairman of the Atlanta branch of the National Woman's Party in 1931, acting as state chairman from 1932 to 1936, and was the national publicity chairman during 1936. She was President of the Atlanta Federation of Women's Clubs from 1941-1943.

In Belgium, Mrs. Seydell was active in the American Woman's Club of Brussels and the Federation of American Women's Club Overseas. She devoted much time to the arts, being a particular patron of Belgium poets. In 1971 she established the Paul Bernard Seydel Memorial Collection on Belgium at Emory University and was honored by the government of Belgium in 1973 with the Order of Leopold for her contributions to cultural exchange between Belgium and the United States.

*Mildred Seydell added the extra "l" to her name when she began her newspaper career and used that spelling as her "pen name" in her professional life.

Scope and Content Note

The Mildred Seydell papers contain correspondence, both personal and professional, writings, personal and family records, and memorabilia, photographs, and source material used for her writings.

These papers give an in-depth look at all facets of Mildred Seydell's prolific life. The Correspondence, Personal Papers, Organizational Files, and Photographs show Mildred Seydell as daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, acquaintance and "club woman". Writing, Correspondence, Photographs, and Collected Material and Clippings demonstrate her abilities as an author and columnist and show how well received she was in this role. Family was very important to Seydell and papers of some of her family, including husband Paul Bernard Seydel, son Paul Vassar Seydel, parents L.B. Vasser and Elizabeth (Bessie Woolley), aunt Lamar Rutherford Lipscomb, great aunt Mildred Lewis Rutherford, and other family members are part of this collection.

Box 150 of this collection houses those items that have been restricted. The restriction decisions were based on recent personal information found in these items. When items have been removed from a folder for restriction, placeholder sheets have been inserted in the appropriate places within the folder noting the items which have been removed. The items in Box 150 are identified by the number of the box and the folder from which they came.

Arrangement Note

Organized into seven series: (1) General and personal correspondence, (2) Writings, (3) Personal papers, (4) Organizational files, (5) Family papers, (6) Photographs and photograph albums, and (7) Collected printed material and clippings.

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