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Joanne V. Creighton Records, 1980-present


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Joanne V. Creighton Records span the years 1980 to the present. These materials document activities, events and issues during Creighton's administration as president of Mount Holyoke College (1996-present) and also include materials dating from the tenure of her immediate predecessor, Elizabeth T. Kennan (President, 1978-1994). Published Writings and Biographical Information (1996-present) includes Creighton's open letters and memoranda addressed to members of the Mount Holyoke community, her speeches delivered at Convocation ceremonies at the College, and articles in which she discusses issues such as affirmative action in education, the future of women's colleges, and Mount Holyoke's decision to make Scholastic Aptitute Test (SAT) scores an optional requirement for admission. Biographical information about her chiefly consists of articles and press releases. Inauguration Records (1995-1995) contain reports, correspondence, financial records, invitations, and audio and video recordings concerning Creighton's installation as Mount Holyoke's President. Minutes, reports and correspondence of the Presidential Search Committee (1993-1995) reflect activities of the group formed to recommend candidates for the position of President of Mount Holyoke after Kennan decided to retire in 1994. This material includes an interview in which Kennan discusses her reasons for leaving office and a video recording prepared by the College's Office of Communications to announce Creighton's selection as President. Operational Policy Committee Records (1995-1997) consist of minutes, agenda, correspondence, reports and surveys. Topics discussed by the President and other members of this admiinstrative committee include methods of evaluating staff, changes in the dining system, January internships, the organization of the College's web site, the academic year calendar, cultural space allocations, and a student protest in 1997 that focused on issues relating to admissions policies and diversity. Form letters signed by students who objected to the methods used by leaders of that protest are in Student Protest Records (1997). Correspondence and Senior Staff Records (1994-1999) includes "chronological files" of letters that Creighton or Kennan sent to alumnae, students, parents, faculty, colleages, and donors as well as minutes, agenda and reports generated by an administrative group of which the President was a member. Topics addressed by the Correspondence and Senior Staff Records include Mount Holyoke's Plan for 2003, need-blind admissions, faculty searches, renovations to science, music and art facilities, financial planning, and the creation of cultural spaces. Alumnae Association Reorganization Records (2000-2002) contain minutes, agenda, correspondence, reports, agreements, and financial records concerning a conflict between the College and the Association over control of alumnae contributions to the Annual Fund. Materials relating to Mount Holyoke history professor Joseph J. Ellis consist of correspondence, articles, and records of meetings relating to his claim that he served in the United States military during the Vietnam War. Subject Files (1980-2002) contain minutes, agenda, correspondence, reports, surveys, grant applications, financial records and publications. These records concern topics such as religious life at the College, admissions policies, regulations governing smoking by students, a campus-wide boycott of Coca-Cola products, the 1997 student protest, and coeducation. Some of these files reflect financial support of programs at the College on the part of foundations. Records for academic departments and committees in the Subject Files include documents relating to curricular revisions, new positions, tenure decisions, and the expansion and renovation of the Art Museum, Blanchard Student Center, Carr and Cleveland Laboratories, Kendall Sports Complex, Pratt Memorial Music Hall and Williston Memorial Library. Other Subject Files reflect Mount Holyoke's association with the Women's College Coalition and Five Colleges. Inc.


  • Creation: 1980-present

Conditions Governing Access note

Access to Published Writings and Biographical Information and Inauguration Records is unrestricted. Access to Presidential Search Committee Records, Operational Policy Committee Records, Correspondence and Senior Staff Records, Student Protest Records, Alumnae Association Reorganization Records, and Subject Files is restricted to use by the office/department of origin for 25 years from the date of record creation. Access to Joseph J. Ellis Materials is restricted until January 1, 2077.

Conditions Governing Use note

Use of the collection is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.)

Historical Note

Joanne V. Creighton was born in Marinette, Wisconsin in 1942 to William J. Vanish and Bernice Vanish. After graduating from Coleman High School in Coleman, Wisconsin in 1960, she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she majored in English and graduated with honors in 1964. She received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University in 1965 and earned a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan in 1969. She began her teaching career at Wayne State University, where she was an English professor from 1968-1985 and also served as associate dean of liberal arts and special assistant to the provost for the humanities. In 1985, she became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She then served as vice president for academic affairs and provost and professor of English at Wesleyan University from 1990-1994. In 1994-1995, she also acted as Wesleyan's interim president. She was selected as the seventeenth President of Mount Holyoke College in February of 1995 and inaugurated in May, 1996. Creighton has concentrated much of her scholarly work and teaching on the authors Margaret Drabble, William Faulkner and Joyce Carol Oates and she is the author of four books and many articles, speeches, and professional presentations. She is married to Thomas E. Creighton and has a son.


35 boxes

Language of Materials



Creighton, Joanne Vanish, 1942-; College and university professor and administrator. Mount Holyoke College President, 1996-present. Records concern activities, issues and events during her administration as President of Mount Holyoke College and during the tenure of her immediate predecessor, Elizabeth T. Kennan (President, 1978-1994). Include Creighton's published writings, biographical information about her, and records relating to her inauguration; records of the Presidential Search Committee, the Operational Policy Committee, and the Senior Staff; correspondence; subject files; records relating to a student protest at the College in 1997 and to the reorganization of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association between 200-2002; and materials concerning the claim made by Mount Holyoke history professor Joseph J. Ellis that he served in the military during the Vietnam War.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into 13 series:

Missing Title

  1. Published Writings and Biographical Information(1996-present)
  2. Inauguration Records (1995-1996)
  3. Presidential Search Committee Records (1993-1995)
  4. Operational Policy Committee Records (1995-1997)
  5. Subject Files (1981-2002)
  6. Correspondence and Senior Staff Records (1994-1999)
  7. Subject Files (1980-1998)
  8. Student Protest Records (1997)
  9. Subject Files (1980-1999)
  10. Alumnae Association Reorganization Records (2000-2002)
  11. Joseph J. Ellis Materials (2001-2002)
  12. Subject Files (1991-1998)
  13. Subject Files (1986-1997)

Location Number:

LD 7082.25 1996

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Most records in this collection were transferred to the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collecitons between 1994-2006. Each accretion has been processed as a separate series.

Appraisal note

Records lacking informational or intrinsic value as well as duplicate materials were deaccessioned from this collection.

Processing Information note

Julie A. Singley, Ralitsa Donkova, Jennifer L. Hawkes, Erin McCarthy and Kristina Pueschel assisted Patricia J. Albright with processing this collection between 2003-2005.

Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA