Ada Stetson Peirce earned a degree in 1932 from the University of Arizona. From 1925 to 1930, Ada gave lectures on marriage and homemaking at various eastern colleges, establishing a national reputation. The McCormicks relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 1931 for health reasons. Fred joined the University of Arizona faculty as Professor of English and served as the managing editor of the Arizona Quarterly. In 1937, Ada Peirce McCormick (APM) started the Chapel of Wandering Scholars near the University of Arizona.
Ada was active in community affairs on a number of different fronts. In 1942, she lobbied to create a recreational facility in Tucson for African-American soldiers, an effort that met with heated opposition from many Tucsonans. APM's passion for social justice and human rights prompted her to found Letter, a national quarterly devoted to promoting dialogue on national and international problems and to better relationships between individuals and nations. The first issue appeared in January 1943. Although it soon became an irregular quarterly, subsequent issues contained works by noted authors and APM editorials on relationships and international concerns. Letter gave numerous awards to individuals in various fields for their moral courage, intellect and devotion to country. The last issue was printed in 1948.
A published author and prolific letter writer, APM conducted research on myriad issues and corresponded with many of the social and political leaders, academics, industry executives, and literary figures of her time. Over the years APM received many awards and recognitions for her accomplishments, including, in 1960, the University of Arizona 75th Anniversary Medallion for her religious work with students. Preceded in death by her husband, APM passed away August 4, 1974. For additional information on her life, see: Ada: The Biography of a Woman Ahead of Her Time, by Roger J. O'Mara.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to and from APM relating to her family, friends and business ventures. Of particular interest are the letters contained in the Correspondence, Cabot Files and Tarbell Files series as they provide insight into the attitudes, character and pursuits of APM and provide a good source of biographical material.