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Joanne V. Creighton records

Identifier: RG 04-08

Scope and Contents

The Joanne V. Creighton Records span the years 1973-2010. These materials document activities, events and issues during Creighton's administration as president of Mount Holyoke College (1996-2010) and also include materials dating from the tenure of her predecessors Elizabeth T. Kennan (President, 1978-1994) and David Bicknell Truman (President, 1969-1978). Correspondence (1994-2009) consists of letters by or to Creighton from trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends. Writings (1996-2009) include 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 Aptitude Test (SAT) scores an optional requirement for admission. Subject Files (1973-2010) primarily 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. 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. Development Office Records: Foundations (1980-2005) include correspondence, proposals, reports, and publications documenting support of the College by many private or U.S. government foundations. President's Travel Records (1995-2010) chiefly consist of correspondence, schedules, and programs for fund raising events and visits to alumnae clubs. Campus Planning Records (1985-2006) consist of minutes, agenda, reports, proposals, and correspondence relating to the expansion and renovation of Williston Library, the Blanchard Campus Center, and other facilities, the construction of Kendade Hall and Creighton Hall, and the land scape master plan for the campus. Honorary Degree Candidates Records (1978-2005) consist of correspondence and biographical information relating to individuals who received or were considered for Mount Holyoke honorary degrees. Operational Policy Committee Records (1994-1997) consist of minutes, agenda, correspondence, reports and surveys. Topics discussed by the President and other members of this administrative 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. Senior Staff Records (1995-2006) primarily consist of minutes, agenda and reports generated by an administrative group of which the President was a member. Topics addressed include Mount Holyoke's Plans for 2003 and 2010, need-blind admissions, faculty searches, renovations to science, music and art facilities, financial planning, and the creation of cultural spaces. Plans for 2003 and 2010 Records (1996-2003) document institutional planning processes initiated by Creighton in 1996 and 2001. Much of the correspondence, minutes, agenda, reports, and drafts in this Sub-series reflects the work of the Educational Priorities Committee created to solicit ideas from faculty, students, staff, alumnae, and parents of students regarding the educational mission and future direction of the College. Alumnae Association Reorganization Records (1998-2002) 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. Task Force on International Initiatives Records (2000-2002) chiefly consist of correspondence, minutes, and reports documenting the work of an ad hoc committee of faculty and staff created to consider study abroad programs, curricular offerings across disciplines, global research projects, exchange agreements, and other topics relating to Mount Holyoke's long history of internationalism. Joseph J. Ellis Materials (2001-2002) consist of correspondence, articles, and records of meetings relating to claims by a Mount Holyoke history professor that he served in the United States military during the Vietnam War. Minutes, reports and correspondence of the Presidential Search Committee (1994-1995) 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. Inauguration Records (1995-1996) contain reports, correspondence, financial records, invitations, and audio and video recordings concerning Creighton's installation as Mount Holyoke's President. Biographical Material includes copies of Creighton's vitae as well as articles and press releases about her. Photographs (1990-circa 2010) include formal portraits of her as well as photographs showing her Mount Holyoke trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumnae. Media Material (1996-2010) includes video recordings of Creighton's inauguration and an interview between her and Nancy J. Vickers (1967) conducted for the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly.


  • Creation: 1973 - 2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1994 - 2010

Conditions Governing Access

Access to Writings, Biographical Material, and Photographs is unrestricted. Access to all other records is restricted to use by the office/department of origin for 25 years from the date of record creation except for the Joseph J. Ellis Materials, which are closed until January 1, 2077.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Joanne V. Creighton was born on February 21, 1942 in Marinette, Wisconsin on 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. Her accomplishments during her tenure include leading successful efforts to increase admissions and financial contributions to the College; supporting the work of the Weissman Center for leadership and the Liberal Arts, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, and the Miller Worley Center for the Environment; and supervising a program which lead to improvements in facilities for art, music, athletics, and dance, the expansion and renovation of the Blanchard Campus Center, and the construction of the Kendade Hall science center and a new dormitory named in her honor. Creighton announced her decision to retire in February, 2009 and stepped down at the end of June in 2010. She served as interim president of Haverford College from 2011-2013 and in the fall of 2013 became a Five College Professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Her scholarly work and teaching have focused 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 married Thomas E. Creighton in 1968 and the couple has a son.


59.21 Linear Feet (87 boxes)

Language of Materials



Creighton, Joanne Vanish, 1942-; College and university professor and administrator. Mount Holyoke College President, 1996-2010. 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). Consist of correspondence; writings; subject files, Development Office records concerning foundations; records of her travels while in office; campus planning records; records concerning candidates for honorary degrees from Mount Holyoke; records of the Operational Policy Committee and Senior Staff; records concerning strategic plans for 2003 and 2010; records concerning reorganization of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association with regard to control of the Alumnae Fund; materials concerning the claim made by Mount Holyoke history professor Joseph J. Ellis that he served in the military during the Vietnam War; records of the Presidential Search Committee and for Creighton's inauguration; biographical materials about her; photographs of her alone or with others; and video recordings and a DVD relating to her.


This collection is organized into 18 sub-series:

  1. Correspondence (1994-2009)
  2. Writings (1996-2009)
  3. Subject Files (1973-2010)
  4. Development Office Records: Foundations (1980-2005)
  5. President's Travel Records (1995-2010)
  6. Campus Planning Records (1986-2006)
  7. Honorary Degree Candidates Records (1978-2005)
  8. Operational Policy Committee Records (1994-1997)
  9. Senior Staff Records (1995-2006)
  10. Plans for 2003 and 2010 Records (1996-2003)
  11. Alumnae Association Reorganization Records (1996-2003)
  12. Task Force on International Initiatives Records (2000-2002)
  13. Joseph J. Ellis Materials (2001-2002)
  14. Presidential Search Committee Records (1994-1995)
  15. Inauguration Records (1995-1996)
  16. Biographical Material (1994-2010)
  17. Photographs (1990-circa 2010)
  18. Media Material (1996-2010)

Related Archival Materials

Electronic records dating from 1996-2010 for President Creighton's administation have been processed and accessioned as

Joanne V. Creighton Records, 1980-present
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright.
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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