Skip Navigation

Special Collections: Guide to the Clarine Coffin Grenfell Papers

Arranged and described by Hansie Grignon; edited by Brenda Howitson Steeves
December 2010

Administrative Information

Collection title: Clarine Coffin Grenfell Papers
Provenance: Donated by Pamela Grenfell Smith, Bloomington, IN, in September 2004
Collection number: MS 1656
Dates of collection: 1927-2001 
Size of collection: 3 record cartons + 1 document box
Conservation note: Collection has been re-housed in acid-free boxes and folders.
Preferred citation: Clarine Coffin Grenfell Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine
Restrictions on access and use: Kept at Fogler Library's off-site storage facility; one week's notice required fro retrieval


Clarine Mildred Coffin was born on December 31, 1910 in Bangor, Maine, to Millard Fillmore Coffin and Clara B. Kelley Coffin. She graduated from the University of Maine in 1932 and from the Hartford Seminary in 1938. While at the university Grenfell was a member of Phi Mu and was the Class Poet for 1932. She later taught at various high schools in Maine and Connecticut and also worked as an editor and reading consultant for Reader’s Digest and as a reading consultant for the state of Connecticut.

Clarine Coffin maintained a voluminous and affectionate correspondence with Harold Eastman Ellis from 1928 until 1931 (briefly resumed in the 1980s). Kenneth Keeney was her suitor from April until December 1931, when he ended the relationship (“my deepest hurt,” Clarine later wrote). They did not resume communication until 1980, and he died in 1984. Clarine Coffin married the Rev. Jack Grenfell (1908-1980) in 1939. Jack Grenfell, the son of the Reverend Thomas and Ethel (Rowe) Grenfell, was born in St. Just, Cornwall, but came to the United States as a young boy. He and Clarine had three children: John Millard Grenfell, Lornagrace Grenfell Stuart and Pamela Grenfell Smith, and ten grandchildren. Jack Grenfell died on July 2, 1980, in Orland, Maine.

Clarine Coffin Grenfell retired from teaching in 1980 and founded a small publishing house, the Grenfell Reading Center, in Orland, Maine. The press specialized in books by Maine authors as well as inspirational works, and Grenfell also published her own works, including Roses in December, Women My Husband Married, and The Caress and the Hurt. She was active in the United Methodist Church, preaching as a supply pastor in Dixmont and Hermon, Maine. Grenfell was awarded a Doctorate in Humane Letters by the University of Maine in 2002.

In 1990 Grenfell established the Clarine Coffin Grenfell Poetry Prize, which is still awarded to outstanding student poets at the University of Maine (information about recent winners can be found here).

Clarine Coffin Grenfell died on September 7, 2004, in Orland, Maine.

Scope and Content Note

The Clarine Coffin Grenfell papers include a scrapbook from her years at the University of Maine (circa 1928-1932); correspondence from the years 1927 to 1997, including a lengthy exchange of letters with suitors Harold (“Hal”) Eastman Ellis (circa 1928-1931) and Kenneth Keeney (1931), as well as with her future husband, Jack Grenfell. (The user should note that CCG’s nickname was “Jackie,” or “Jack,” leading to possible confusion as to the identity of the addressee). Also included in the collection are University of Maine memorabilia, with an emphasis on the Phi Mu sorority, family photographs from 1928 to the 1990s, teacher’s contracts and other work documents, newspaper clippings, and information about the Grenfell Poetry Prize and the honorary doctorate Grenfell received in 2002.

Box List

Box 1


1 Correspondence, 1927-1928

2-4 Correspondence, 1929

5-8 Correspondence, 1930

Box 2

1-2 Correspondence, 1931 (Harold Eastman Ellis)

3 Correspondence, 1931 (Kenneth Keeney)

4 Correspondence, 1931 (misc.)

5 Correspondence, 1932-1935

6 Correspondence, 1936 (mainly Jack Grenfell)

7-10 Correspondence 1937-1945, 1949

11 Correspondence, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958-1960, 1964-1965, 1967-1969

12 Correspondence, 1970-1976, 1979

13-15 Correspondence, 1980-1983

16 Correspondence, 1984 (Kenneth Keeney)

17 Correspondence from Naomi Keeney on the death of her husband, Kenneth, 1984

18 Correspondence, 1985-1988, 1990

19 Correspondence on the occasion of CCG’s 80th birthday and the establishment of the Clarine Coffin Grenfell Poetry Prize, 1990

20 Correspondence, 1991

Box 3

1-3 Correspondence, 1991-1994, 1997

4 Correspondence (undated)

5 Birth certificate and transcripts

6 Photographs, 1928-1990s

7 Check stubs, 1928-1929

8 Teacher’s contract, town of Hermon, 1929

9 Leather-bound autograph book, 1931

10 Clarine Coffin Grenfell diary, 1931

11 Newspaper clippings, 1932-1987

12 Bates College Bulletin, 1933

13 Teacher’s contract for the city of Bangor, 1933-1934

14 Reader’s Digest materials, 1970-1972

15 State of Connecticut certification materials, 1970, 1975

16 Promotional posters for Women My Husband Married, 1983

17 Lists of speaking dates, 1986-1991 (and speaking materials)

18 Report card for Trevanna Grenfell (granddaughter), 1991-1992

19 Elderhostel materials, 1992-1994

20 Mu Sigma Chi fraternity, University of Maine

21 Sorority pins

22 Miscellaneous song lyrics and poems

23 Record of the Washburn M.E. Church from Mar. 3, 1892 to.

24 Perfume bottle, “Ombre rose parfum,” by Jean-Charles Brosseau

25 Jack Grenfell obituary

26 Audiotape, “First love, last love, written and recorded by Clarine Coffin Grenfell”

27 VHS tape, Phi Mu National Convention, Naples, Florida, July 11, 1992

28 University of Maine memorabilia

29 Honorary doctoral degree, University of Maine – materials, 2001-2002

30 Miscellaneous memorabilia, travel and promotional items

Box 4

University of Maine scrapbook (1928-1932): includes Phi Mu materials, invitations, party favors, poems, holiday cards, ticket stubs, report cards, football memorabilia, dance cards and programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, a diary from 1928, and signatures of classmates.

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

Return to top level page

Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/18/2015
5729 Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
© Copyright 2000-2015
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469