A Guide to the Katharine Riddle Papers, 1960-1999
Dr. Katharine “Kittu” Riddle was born Katharine Parker on May 21, 1919 in Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her parents were missionaries, spending extended periods in India doing their work. She grew up in India, but returned to the United States to attend college, earning the first of three degrees (1940). In 1941, she married Charles Riddle, a seminary candidate and (later) missionary, and together they had three children. She obtained her Masters of Science in 1942 with the thesis titled Standards for School Lunchrooms.
Her life’s work has consisted of helping others, whether as a missionary, or serving on committees and boards, most of which were for women- and children-based programs or initiatives. A recurring theme in her work is nourishment and in 1975, well into her 50s, she earned her PhD with the dissertation titled The Nourishment of Living Systems: A Conceptual Framework for understanding Nutritional Processes for the Nourishment of Persons interested in Nurturing.
In 1976, she divorced her husband of 35 years, maintaining close relationships with her ex-husband and his new wife, her stepmother, and her children. Eventually, Katherine fell in love with a woman, and developed a lasting relationship with her. This event, along with a feminist perspective and her extensive research on nourishment, led her to create Nourishing Space. Riddle developed Nourishing Space on a ranch near Tucson, Arizona, specifically as a place where women could learn to nourish themselves. At Nourishing Space, the women could visit or live in a micro-society away from the influence of men, and work with the earth, or create poetry and art in an all-female environment. Additionally, Nourishing Space offered workshops in feminist education and provided a meeting space for feminists, lesbians, and other women’s groups.
While Nourishing Space dissolved after only a few years, Riddle continued to educate others about physical and emotional nourishment through her work as an advocate for women’s and children’s programs. During the 1990s, Riddle resided in San Antonio, Texas, and created Storyletters, an international publication of women's writing. The Doté Foundation, a non-profit women’s organization located in San Antonio, supported the creation of Storyletters. Riddle served on the Doté Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1989.
Pentland Press published Riddle’s autobiography, A Nourishing Life, in 1999. It is a candid retelling of her life’s experiences as a missionary, wife, mother, partner, and woman.
The Katharine Riddle Papers consist of correspondence, printed materials, clippings, proposals, proofs, galley pages, programs, and newsletters. Of note are assorted publications and articles by Katharine Riddle. The papers separate into three series and the arrangement is by type of material.
The Nourishing Space series is the largest of the three series and includes information about creating and maintaining the Space in addition to the planning proposal and program for Nourishing Space. Additionally, there is correspondence from visitors to and supporters of the Space, creative works (poetry), periodicals containing advertisements about the space, and administrative documents.
The Personal series contains articles and publications by Riddle, biographical information, feminist education materials, articles about her family, articles about famous women, and personal correspondence.
The Nourishing Life series contains galley pages and proofs of her book A Nourishing Life.
This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.
Permission to Publish
Permission to publish material from the Katharine Riddle papers must be obtained from University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Katharine Riddle Papers, 1960-1999, MS 86, Archives and Special Collections, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Donation by Katharine Riddle, 1999 and 2001 (Acc. #1999-014, 1999-035, 2001-002, 2001-004).
Processed by Traci JoLeigh Drummond, Archivist, June 2004.
University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections also holds the Storyletters Records (MS 40), which compliment the Katharine Riddle Papers. The Storyletters records consist of a brief history, issues of Storyletters, correspondence, and publications. Collectively, the records document the lives and experiences of women from diverse cultures through their own writing. The collection also provides insight into readers' opinions and views on the publication.
Detailed Description of the Collection