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Eleanor Tydings Ditzen papers

 Collection 0365-MDHC

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen was the daughter of Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, the step-daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the wife of U. S. Senator Millard Tydings, and the mother of U. S. Senator Joseph E. Tydings. Included in this collection is documentation related to her work with the Washington Hospital Center, which she helped to found; correspondence with various family members, including those listed above; notes and drafts of her writings including her autobiography, My Golden Spoon; speeches and correspondence relating to her 1956 campaign for U. S. Senate; early school and childhood materials; writings by Millard Tydings; photographs; genealogical research; and documentation on the Tydings home of "Oakington."


  • 1836-2001 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1970

Use and Access to Collection

This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


13.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Eleanor Tydings Ditzen papers covers the period 1836-2001. It includes genealogical materials on Ditzen's family, her own correspondence with family and friends, and copies of her writings. It also includes a small amount of correspondence with and between several significant historical figures including Joseph Davies and Millard Tydings. Political topics include copies of and notes for Ditzen's speeches, and information about Sen. Tydings' 1950 primary election campaign. Some files include correspondence and other information about family properties in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Photographs showing family members, friends, and notable historical figures such as President Bill Clinton are also included.


Eleanor Davies was born on April 27, 1904 in Watertown, Wisconsin, to Joseph Edward Davies, a lawyer and diplomat, and Mary Emlen Knight. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1912 when Joseph Davies accepted a high-level post in the Wilson administration. Eleanor was educated at the Holton Arms School and Vassar College. She was very active in the social life of Washington. In 1926 she married Thomas Cheesborough of Asheville, North Carolina. This marriage produced two children, Joseph (b. 1926) and Eleanor (b. 1932), but ended in divorce in April 1935. In December of the same year, Eleanor married Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, who subsequently adopted both children.

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen became active in social and political life of Washington D.C. and Maryland throughout the remainder of Tydings' political career, including his electoral defeat at the hands of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1950. She remained politically active through the 1950s and served as Adlai Stevenson's campaign manager in Maryland in the presidential election of 1956. Millard Tydings' health began to decline in the mid-1950s, and he died in 1961.

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen worked with and supported various charities, including the creation of the Washington Hospital Center. In 1965, she met the Reverend Lowell Ditzen, a national leader of the Presbyterian Church. They were married in 1966 until his death in 1987. Her later years were filled with international travel, family gatherings, and parties. She died in 2006 at the age of 102.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

Series 1
Genealogy and Family History
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5
Series 6
Series 7
Audiovisual Materials

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Eleanor Tydings Ditzen papers were donated to the University of Maryland by Joseph Tydings on July 27, 2006.

Related Material

In addition to the copies in this collection, the complete published edition of Eleanor Tydings Ditzen’s autobiography, My Golden Spoon: Memoirs of a Capital Lady is available in the Marylandia collection (Maryland Stacks E748.T93 D58 1997).

For additional information relating to this collection, see the papers of Millard E. Tydings, Ms.Ditzen's second husband; and the Joseph D. Tydings papers, compiled by her son.


Publications about Eleanor Davies Tydings:
  • Ditzen, Eleanor Davies Tydings, My Golden Spoon: Memoirs of a Capital Lady. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, [1997].
  • Keith, Caroline H., For Hell and a Brown Mule: the Biography of Senator Millard E. Tydings. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1991.

Processing Information

Metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips. Acidic newspaper clippings were photocopied onto archival bond paper.

Guide to the Eleanor Tydings Ditzen papers
Processed by Peter Curtis.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742