Muriel Morris Gardiner, an activist committed to social and political reform, graduated from Wellesley in 1922 as a Durant Scholar. She was born in Chicago to a magnate in the meat-packing industry, and she was raised in the midst of wealth and opportunity. After graduating, she traveled to Rome and then studied literature at the University of Oxford.
In 1926, she traveled to Vienna, intending to study psychoanalysis under Sigmund Freud. Instead, she enrolled as a student at the University of Vienna Medical School. While at the university, Dr. Gardiner met and married Joseph Buttinger, the leader of the Austrian Revolutionary Socialist Movement, and in 1934, she became involved in anti-Fascist activities, joining the Austrian Underground.
Until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Dr. Gardiner used the code name “Mary” to smuggle false passports and money to help political dissidents flee from Europe. In the United States, she continued to aid concentration camp refugees and immigrants as they entered the country. She completed her medical training, and she worked as a therapist and professor at Rutgers University. She was a well-known publisher in psychiatric circles, publishing several psychoanalytic papers, a translation of Freud’s case of The Wolf-Man, and her own book Deadly Innocents: Portraits of Children Who Kill.
Muriel Morris Gardiner published a memoir in 1983 detailing her anti-Fascist efforts before the outbreak of World War II. It is entitled Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground.
Dr. Gardiner died of cancer in 1985 at the age of 84.
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