Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Bulk Dates: 1905-1983
Collection number: D1973.1
4.75 linear feet
(8 manuscript boxes and two oversize boxes)
Claremont Colleges. Library. Ella Strong Denison Library.
Claremont, California 91711
was one of the original signers of the founding
articles for Scripps College and served on the college's first board of trustees from 1926 to
1965. She was also one of the first female Washington correspondents and had a nationally
syndicated column from 1933 to 1945. The collection contains correspondence, photographs,
writings, and newspaper clippings related to her private life and to her career as a Washington
correspondent. Also included in the collection are Board of Trustees' reports for Scripps
College from 1976 to 1983. The materials in the collection range from 1776 to 1983 with the bulk
of the collection dating from 1905 to 1983.
Physical location: Please consult repository.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English
Collection open for research.
All requests for permission to publish must be submitted in writing to Denison Library.
[Identification of item],
papers. Ella Strong Denison Library, Libraries
of The Claremont Colleges.
Because no organization appeared to exist, the materials in the collection were rearranged and
organized according to series and subseries type. Some of the items in the collection were left
on display in the Mary Routt Memorabilia Room on the Scripps College Campus. Collection
processed by Lorain Wang, 2003.
Biography / Administrative History
was a founding trustee of Scripps College as well as one of the first
female members of the White House press corps. She was born on May 13, 1888 in Mitchellville,
Iowa, a small farming community. The only child of Burton Robert Patterson, a grain broker, and
his wife, Ida Patterson, it was always understood that she was expected to attend college; as a
child, her mother had sent in an application for her to attend Wellesley College in Boston.
Because the local high school she attended was unaccredited, after graduating, Mary enrolled in
a preparatory high school in Grinnell, Iowa. Having made many close friends there, Mary
persuaded her parents to allow her to stay and enroll in Grinnell College. Her parents relented
only after she promised to attend Wellesley College after graduating from Grinnell; her father
felt that her education should not be limited geographically to the Midwestern area. Thus, after
graduating from Grinnell in 1908 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, Mary earned a
bachelor's degree in English and history from Wellesley. After graduating from Wellesley, Mary
taught at Sutherland High School in Iowa for a year. In 1912 she married Orville Routt, whom she
had met at Grinnell College. After the two married, the couple moved to Southern California
where her husband became the owner of a successful lumberyard business. In 1920, Mary gave birth
to their only child, Robert.
As a student at Grinnell College, Mary had met Ernest J. Jacqua, a fellow student who later
became the first president of Scripps College. Over the years, Mary and her husband had become
good friends with Jacqua, and in 1926, he asked Mary to become a member of the first board of
trustees for Scripps College. Mary served on the board from 1926 to 1965 and played an active
role in the development of the college. She and her husband made several donations to the
school, and in 1966, a residence hall on the Scripps Campus was named in her honor. In 1981, the
Scripps College board of trustees awarded the first Distinguished Service Award to Mary for her
many contribution to the institution.
Mary entered the field of journalism in 1922, writing a regular column in the Beverly Hills
Citizen News called "Facts, Folks, and Fancies." Her editor, recognizing her talent for writing
about politics, decided to send her to Washington, D.C. to cover the 1933 inauguration of
Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her coverage of the even gained her renown and earned her a spot as one
of the first female members of the White House press corps. In addition to the bi-weekly press
conferences given by Roosevelt, she also attended the exclusive press conferences that Eleanor
Roosevelt held for the female journalists.
In 1933, Mary was one of two female journalists invited to attend the London Economic
Conference. At the conference, she was the only woman in a subgroup of journalists traveling by
foot through the countryside of Russia. Some of the men protested against her presence, arguing
that a woman would not be able to endure such an arduous trip. Mary, however, was the only
member of the group that did not become sick on the trek through Russia.
As a Washington correspondent from 1933 to 1945, Mary divided much of her time between
California and Washington, D.C. She became a nationally syndicated columnist for the Beverly
Hills Citizen News and the Pasadena Star News and was frequently invited to give talks by
various organizations across the country. Throughout her career, Mary's husband was very
supportive and would at times write articles in her place when she was ill. Mary also became
good friends with the Roosevelts and was a frequent guest at the White House. In 1966, Mary was
awarded an honorary doctorate by Grinnell College for her achievements in journalism.
After her husband passed away in 1972, Mary moved into an apartment in the Mary Routt
Residence Hall on the Scripps College Campus. In 1983, she wrote a book on her experience as a
Washington correspondent, entitled The Life and Times of a Washington Correspondent, 1933-1945.
At the age of 98, Mary passed away on June 19, 1986.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection contains correspondence, photographs, writings, and newspaper clippings related
private life and to her career as a Washington correspondent. A number
of drafts and clippings of her newspaper articles can be found in the collection as well as the
drafts and galleys for her book, The Life and Times of a Washington Correspondent, 1933-1945.
Although there is little material related to the founding of Scripps College or to her time as a
member of the board of trustees from 1926 to 1965, the collection does contain board of
trustees' reports from 1967 to 1983. The collection also contains a great deal of photographs
and ephemera from her days as a college student at Grinnell and Wellesley College. The materials
in the collection range from the 1850s to 1983 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1905
The collection is organized into ten series:
Mary Routt Memorabilia Room, circa 1900-1986
Photographs, circa 1890-1985
Correspondence, circa 1908-1973
Biographical material, 1908-1981
Claremont Colleges, 1926-1984
Newspaper clippings, circa 1920-1982
Ephemera, circa 1776-1982
Writings of Mary Routt, 1908-1983
Scrapbook and photo albums, circa 1850-1940
Bibles, circa 1866-1933
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Women Journalists--United States