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Marjorie O. Shearon papers

Identifier: Coll 131

Scope and Contents

The Marjorie O. Shearon papers document Shearon’s work as a paleontologist, Social Security Board employee, lecturer, author, editor, publisher, legislative consultant, and opponent of nationalized medicine. The papers include correspondence, manuscripts, subject and source files, publications, financial records, and personal papers.

The correspondence series contains Shearon’s personal and professional correspondence, including letters, telegrams, greeting cards, notes, and memoranda. This series contains correspondence exchanged between Shearon and many prominent doctors, scientists, politicians, and medical organizations. This series also includes letters that are romantic in nature, documenting Shearon’s complicated personal life.

The manuscripts series contains manuscripts and drafts of books, research reports, articles, addresses, and autobiographical writings by Shearon. This series contains works related to Social Security, communism, and the nationalization of medicine, as well as autobiographical and fictional writings.

The subject and source files series contains collected research materials used by Shearon in her writing, lobbying, and consulting business. The subject and source files contain publications, reports, memoranda, correspondence, notes, and clippings, primarily relating to Social Security and the nationalization of medicine.

The publications series contains periodicals, pamphlets, bulletins, articles, and books written and published by Shearon. This series contains publications from Shearon’s scientific career as well as publications related to Social Security and the nationalization of medicine.

The financial records series contains financial records related to Shearon’s writing and publishing business. This series includes subscription orders, receipts, an accounting ledger, and an application for a grant intended to finance Shearon’s writing and publishing.

The personal papers series contains material related to Shearon’s personal life, including journals, datebooks, photographs, family papers, biographical material, newspaper clippings, notes, school records, and legal documents.


  • Creation: circa 1880-1974


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Marjorie O’Connell Shearon was a paleontologist and employee of the Social Security Board who later shifted careers to become a lecturer, author, editor, publisher, legislative consultant, and opponent of nationalized medicine.

Marjorie O’Connell Shearon was born in Newark, New Jersey, on August 15, 1890, the daughter of Phebe Slater and James Jay O’Connell. She attended the Ethical Culture School in New York from 1893 through 1908, received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and geology from Barnard College in 1911, and her master’s (1912) and doctoral (1916) degrees in paleontology from Columbia University. From 1914 to 1916, she was a lecturer and curator in paleontology at Columbia University. In 1917, her doctoral thesis won the Sarah Berliner Fellowship in Science in a world competition among women, offering her the opportunity of a year of postdoctoral research at the American Museum of Natural History, where she remained for five years. During this time, she named several new fossils and worked with ammonite fossils sent back from Cuba by paleontologist Barnum Brown. From 1912-1922, Shearon had two books and several articles related to paleontology and geology published.

In 1922, Shearon left the field of paleontology and embarked on a solo hiking trip across much of the United States. She arrived penniless a few months later in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1922 to 1936, Shearon held various positions at corporations, charitable organizations, and government agencies in St. Louis, New York City, and Washington, D.C., including the Salvation Army, Macy’s, the New York Opera Comique, Inc., the Emergency Relief Bureau of New York City, and the Works Progress Administration.

In 1936, Shearon became part of the original staff of the Social Security Board’s Bureau of Research and Statistics. On assignment to the Office of the General Council of the Social Security Board, Shearon wrote an economic brief, Economic Insecurity in Old Age, for the defense of the Social Security Act before the Supreme Court. Shearon’s brief was instrumental in the Social Security Act being upheld by the Supreme Court. While at the Bureau of Research and Statistics, Shearon became an expert on and opponent of compulsory health insurance. In 1941, Shearon left the Social Security Board to work for the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Services. Becoming increasingly disillusioned by what she perceived as “socialist brainwashing” within the government and welfare system, Shearon resigned from government service in 1945.

Shearon was quickly employed by Senator Robert A. Taft as a consultant to help him defeat the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill, which proposed a national medical and hospitalization program. Shearon served as a consultant to Senator Taft for three years. She was also a consultant to the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, and several other congressional special committees.

In July of 1947, Shearon and her husband, William Shearon, whom she had met in St. Louis and married in 1927, began publishing American Medicine and the Political Scene, a weekly analysis of Social Security legislation. In 1950, the publication was renamed Challenge to Socialism. The publication was discontinued in 1966 due to financial problems. In 1967, Shearon published her book Wilbur J. Cohen: The Pursuit of Power. She also planned to write a book on the history of the movement to nationalize medicine, but it never came to fruition.

Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, Shearon continued to advocate against nationalized medicine, compulsory health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, socialism, and communism while working as a publisher, legislative consultant, traveling lecturer, and observer of national health systems. Notably, Shearon was influential in the passage of the Alaska Mental Health Bill of 1956.

Throughout her life, Shearon had several close relationships with prominent scientists and doctors, including Amadeus William Grabau and Rufus B. Robins. Shearon died in 1974.


15.25 linear feet (13 containers) : 6 record storage boxes; 3 manuscript boxes; 1 legal size half manuscript box; 2 photo boxes; 1 corrugated board flat box

Language of Materials



Marjorie O’Connell Shearon was a paleontologist and employee of the Social Security Board who later shifted careers to become a lecturer, author, editor, publisher, legislative consultant, and opponent of nationalized medicine. The papers include correspondence, manuscripts, subject and source files, publications, financial records, and personal papers.


The Marjorie O. Shearon papers are arranged in six series:
1. Correspondence, 1900-1974
2. Manuscripts, circa 1915-1972
3. Subject and source files, 1927-1971
4. Publications, 1914-1971
5. Financial records, 1946-1971
6. Personal papers, circa 1880-1973

Series 1. Correspondence is arranged in two subseries:
1.1. Outgoing, 1919-1974
1.2. Incoming, 1900-1974

Other Finding Aids

See the Collective Name Index to the Research Collection of Conservative and Libertarian Studies for a cross-referenced index to names of correspondents in this collection, if any, and 37 related University of Oregon collections, including dates of correspondence. See index instructions on use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Marjorie O’Connell Shearon, 1974.
Gift of Andrew and Pamela Brancati, 2018.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by staff in 1975. Additional processing completed by Sarah Lueders in 2023.

Guide to the Marjorie O. Shearon papers
Complete Description
Sarah Lueders
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA