Marjorie Bates was born in Cambridge, MA on July 31, 1897. During her childhood her family moved to Braintree, MA, and in September of 1915 she entered the two-year teaching program at Bridgewater State Normal School. She graduated in June of 1917 and the following September started her fist teaching job in Falmouth, MA. Bates taught in Falmouth for one year before attending Burdett College in 1918. It is unclear whether she finished the program there. In March of 1920 she began teaching fifth grade at the John Hancock School in Quincy, MA, but it is unclear how long she was employed there.
In 1923 Bates moved to Arizona and began teaching at the Theodore Roosevelt Indian School at Fort Apache the year it opened. The fort was built in 1870 on land granted to the U.S. military by the Apache tribe. It was used for various military operations until 1922 when it was handed over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The fort then became the Theodore Roosevelt School in 1923 and functioned as an Indian reform school. It is still running to this day, however it is not run by the Apache Trible Counsel. Bates taught both the third grade and adult primary at the Theodore Roosevelt School. She worked there until January of 1925.
In March of 1925 Bates started working at the Phoenix Indian School. The Phoenix Indian School opened in 1891 in order to assimilate Native American children to white culture. It remained in operation until 1990 when it was shut down by the federal government. While at the Phoenix Indian School, Bates taught the sixth grade and frequently describes her lessons and exams in her letters. She taught there for just over two years and left in June of 1927. From November of 1927 to May of 1928 she taught at Northfield Seminary in Northfield, MA. Details about her life following this are not documented in the collection.
Scope and Content Note
The Marjorie Bates Collection primarily consists of letters written by Bates to her family, with the bulk of them dated between 1924 to 1928. In addition to these letters Bates would occasionally include pieces of ephemera that pertained to something described in her letter. This includes posters, brochures, and programs from a variety of events and places Bates went to or participated in. She traveled frequently, and this is depicted in her letters sent back to her parents. The collection is broken into four series with the first three series focusing on specific schools Bates taught at. Series one covers her time teaching at the Theodore Roosevelt School at Fort Apache, Arizona, from April 1923 to January 1925. Series two covers her time teaching at the Phoenix Indian School in Phoenix, Arizona from February 1925 to July 1927. Series three covers her time teaching at Northfield Seminary in Northfield, Massachusetts, from November 1927 to May 1928. The letters in these first three series describe classroom activities and school events, along with Bates’s personal activities. Series four consists of miscellaneous letters from both before and after her time teaching, as well as letters to and from other family members that do not pertain to Marjorie Bates. This series also contains one letter written in 1917 that describes her time at Bridgewater State Normal School.