Skip to main content

Harrison papers

Identifier: MS 0763

Scope and Contents

The papers of Anna J. Harrison consist of American Chemical Society records; subject files containing correspondence, reports, minutes, publications, and other documents; material relating to Mount Holyoke College; her research material and published and unpublished writings; letters by and to her; memorabilia; biographical information; and photographs. The bulk of the collection is arranged in subject files. The papers chiefly concern Harrison's professional activities as an educator and researcher from 1938-1989. The material includes records reflecting her work with many scientific organizations in the United States, particularly the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Colleges, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the Education Commission of the States, the Manufacturing Chemists' Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the National Science Board, the National Science Foundation, and the Universities Space Research Association's Lunar and Planetary Institute. Other documents concern many of the conferences that Harrison attended in the United States and abroad and reflect her association with numerous universities and colleges as a lecturer, consultant or honorary degree recipient. Also included are reports, correspondence and articles concerning her trips to India as a representative of the National Science Foundation in 1971 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1983; to Japan, Spain, and Thailand as president of the American Chemical Society in 1978; and to Antarctica in 1974 as a representative of the National Science Board. Material in the collection also reflects her interest in the support of science education by state and federal agencies, the role and status of women in science, and public health issues. The papers also document her work with editorial boards and organizations that produced scientific publications or sponsored films and other projects. Material relating to Mount Holyoke College dates from 1969-1986 and includes correspondence with former students, records for a course in elementary chemistry that Harrison often taught, and her recommendations for students, faculty, staff, and colleagues. This collection also contain her writings from 1938-1996 including experiment findings, speeches, and articles she wrote for such publications as the "Journal of the American Chemical Society", "Chemical and Engineering News", and "Encyclopaedia Britannica". Her Master's thesis and Ph.D. dissertation are included as well. The collection also contains autobiographical and biographical information about Harrison, 1949-1999; genealogical and biographical information about members of the Harrison family, 1854-1952 and 1978; and Harrison's diplomas and other memorabilia, ca.1884-1998. Rounding out the collection are formal and informal photographs of Harrison alone and with others, ca.1910-1992, and of her parents and the family home, ca.1903, ca.1917.


  • Creation: 1854-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1938 - 1999

Conditions Governing Access

Unrestricted except for Mount Holyoke College records less than 25 years old and recommendations filed in Series 3 of the collection. The College records may be used with the permission of the office or department that created them. Recommendations may be used by researchers who sign the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Restricted Records Statistical and Quantitative Research Contract.

Biographical Note

Anna Jane Harrison was born on December 23, 1912 in Benton City, Missouri to farmers Albert Harrison and Mary Katherine Jones Harrison. She became interested in science while attending high school in Mexico, Missouri and went to the University of Missouri where she received a B.A. (1933), M.A. (1937), and Ph.D. (1940) in chemistry and a B.S. (1935) in education. While working towards her Master's Degree, she also taught at an elementary school in Andrain County, Missouri. She was a chemistry professor at Sophie Newcomb College from 1940-1945. During World War II she also did research on toxic smoke for the National Defense Research Council, the A.J. Griner Co. in Kansas City, Missouri and Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York. The American Ceramic Society honored her with the Frank Forrest Award for her findings in this research. In 1945 she began teaching at Mount Holyoke College. She became a full professor in 1950, served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 1960-1966, and retired in 1979. She did research concerning the structure of organic molecules, the absorption of organic compounds in ultraviolet and far ultraviolet regions, and photolysis. She was an active member of many scientific societies, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the National Science Board, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 1978 she became the first woman president of the ACS and she was president of the AAAS in 1983. She served on the editorial boards of the "Journal of College Science Teaching" and "Chemical and Engineering News" and she was on the Board of Directors of Sigma Xi from 1988-1991. In 1989 she co-authored a textbook with her Mount Holyoke College colleague Edwin Weaver entitled "Chemistry: A Search to Understand." She received many honors and awards including twenty honorary degrees. Harrison died in Holyoke, Massachusetts on August 8, 1998 at the age eighty-five.


44 boxes (Faculty/Staff)

Language of Materials



Harrison, Anna Jane, 1912-1998; Chemist and college teacher. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1945-1979. Papers consist of American Chemical Society records, subject files about Mount Holyoke containing correspondence, publications, reports, and minutes, writings, letters, memorabilia, biographical information and photographs. Primarily documenting her work in various science organizations and her travels to India and Japan as a representative for these organizations.


Arranged in 9 series. Series 1. American Chemical Society Material, 1969-1987. Series 2. Subject Files, 1890, 1954-1991. Series 3. Mount Holyoke College Material, ca.1949-ca.1987. Series 4. Research Material, 1933-1972. Series 5. Writings, 1938-1959, 1971-1996. Series 6. Correspondence, 1970-1987, 1995-1996. Series 7. Memorabilia, 1940-1988. Series 8. Biographical Information, 1854-1999. Series 9. Photographs, ca.1903-1992.

Harrison papers, 1854-1999 (bulk 1938-1989)
Edited Full Draft
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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