Mary Patterson Routt 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.
Mary Patterson Routt 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.