The Knowledge of How to Live

Louise Bradley Radcliffe College Headshot

Louise Bradley's yearbook photo, 1930

In the fall of 1927, Bradley transferred to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the remainder of her college career.  In one charming diary entry, she writes of her love for New England: “It is good to be North again.  I am every fibre [sic] a New Englander.  I love the delicate greens and the sweetness of our springs.  My throat chokes when we ride over the bridge from Cambridge, and see the flat buildings with their gray and red moustones [sic], and the dull sunlight close around them” (9 May 1931).  

While reflecting on her experience in a diary entry on December 8, 1931, Bradley wrote that “the college years” are “when the knowledge of how to live is being acquired.”  She had developed a love of reading and writing as a child, but being in college taught her how to hone her craft and make writing a part of her daily life.  By the fall of 1928, Bradley was a desk editor for the The Radcliffe Daily, the college's student newspaper, and she served as editor-in-chief from April 1929 through the summer of 1930.  In her diary, she writes, “the Daily would not be in existence had it not been for my tact and leadership and business clearsightedness” (24 May 1930).  Indeed, in 1932, the paper stopped being published every day, and the name changed to The Radcliffe News in 1933.  In Bradley’s senior yearbook, her classmates wrote that “her gentle, cogent editorials . . . made her Dailies shine.”

Bradley enjoyed her work on the student newspaper so much that she also took a position on the Radcliffe College Press Board, which provided “an opportunity to those students who [were] interested in journalism to receive practical training and experience” (1930 Radcliffe College Yearbook).  Each member of the Press Board reported news about Radcliffe and its alumni to a Boston newspaper; Bradley worked with the Cambridge Tribune.  This work was more than a mere student job; the 1930 census lists Bradley's occupation as newspaper reporter.

Radcliffe Daily Masthead

Radcliffe Daily masthead, 1929

Bradley was also Class Historian at Radcliffe, and her love of the past is evident in her Radcliffe Daily history column.  Two of her most enthusiastic pieces describe an exhibit of historic furnishings in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and a Saturday open house of famous homes—including those of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne—in nearby Concord, Massachusetts.  She and Elizabeth Bishop went on a trip to the Alcott house together in the summer of 1929; in a letter afterward, Bishop wrote, “Wasn’t the Alcott house nice?  Let’s go back again someday and walk down that road behind it and seat ourselves to meditate on the green sward also behind it.  We could take Emerson’s essays” (23 June 1929).  Bradley’s evident love of historic houses means that she would have no doubt been pleased to find that the Wylie House, which was such a central part of her family’s life, is now a historic house museum—and that some of her materials are available to researchers there.

Louise Bradley with Radcliffe Daily Staff

Editor-in-Chief Louise Bradley (front center) with her Radcliffe Daily staff, 1930

The Knowledge of How to Live