At the beginning of October 1916 whilst still at home with her father, Norman wrote to Dr Richard Clarke Cabot.  He was a family friend and was the man responsible with Norman’s aunt Kate Crawford Latham for publishing ‘Mademoiselle Miss’ earlier in 1916 of which he wrote the Preface.

Dr Cabot had taught Norman’s brother John Sebastian Derr at Harvard University where he was training to be a doctor in 1906.   John Derr wrote to Dr Cabot in 1907 whilst working as a doctor for the Sudan United Mission in Northern Nigeria in which he mentions the family connection.

“ I shall never forget the handsome and cordial manner in which you and Mrs Cabot entertained us at your home.  Please present my respects to Mrs Cabot. My family are still at the Charlestown Navy yard and I should be pleased to have you call on my mother”.

The following letters written to Dr Cabot in 1916 were obtained from Harvard University who hold Dr Cabot’s considerable archive. I acknowledge the co-operation that has been shown to me in obtaining the following material and below I include as requested the following acknowledgement.

“Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives.”

East Lake

Decatur Ga

Dear Dr Cabot

Ever since “Mademoiselle Miss” came to me across the Atlantic many weeks ago, I have longed to write to you.

Perhaps you can understand why I haven’t – To know the pure, unconscious joy of working and the comfort of sharing it with one whom I love so dearly, and then, as if that were not enough, to read those pages of yours and realise as perhaps never before, what great things God sometimes makes out of little ones, gave me a feeling that I just couldn’t put into words.

But now your letter has at last reached me after wide wonderings, and it seems the most natural thing in the world just simply to tell you how thankful I am, though a bit like a dazed child at having such a letter from one whom I have always held in such high reverential awe.

My Godmother to whom I owe everything, and who has brought me to know you, has been taken from me “for a little while” but she has left behind such a largesse of love and wonder and inspiration, that it will take all the time until I see her again to work it into something worthy.  The revelation of her and your little book —-I can’t realise that I have had any part in it—— has given me an incentive to work such as I never had before.  But it  isn’t only the help you have called forth for my dear blesses, nor the splendour you have cast about my poor little service that fills my heart; it is what you have done for my beloved aunt in giving her something which she needed perhaps more than my presence (loving her “child” as few have been loved) and for me, in softening a little the almost unbearable regret that I could not have been there before.

It is wonderful to think that you feel “close” to my work, and I long to keep you there.

It is possible that I may come to Boston for a day or two before I sail about the last of this month and, if you are not too busy, I shall hope for the privilege of seeing you.

Thank you for that unspeakably touching enclosure——overwhelming to read.  I would like to write to Madame Baller.


Norman Derr

October 5. 1916