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Mary McHenry papers

Identifier: MS 0845

Scope and Contents

The papers of Mary Elizabeth Williamson Murphy McHenry (1933- present) span the years 1933-1996 (bulk dates 1946-1954 and 1972-1993) and are organized into the following series: correspondence, writings and speeches, course records, yearbooks, calendars and planners, subject files, family papers, biographical information, memorabilia, photographs, scrapbooks. The correspondence and course records are the largest and most complete portions of the collection. The bulk of the collection details her time as a student at the Oakwood School and Mount Holyoke College and her professional career at Mount Holyoke College. The collection is primarily in English, with some correspondence in French.

The Course Records detail McHenry's education from elementary school through the graduate level with transcripts, graded work and notebooks, as well as documenting her career as a professor at Federal City College (1969-1974) and Mount Holyoke College (1974-1998) with syllabi, notes and graded student work from courses she taught.

The Correspondence series is mainly personal before 1960 and professional thereafter. The bulk of the series is personal correspondence detailing her time as a student at the Oakwood School and Mount Holyoke College. This personal correspondence includes letters to and from her parents from her childhood through adulthood, as well as many letters from other family members including her husbands and children. The professional correspondence in the series documents her career and includes letters and memos to and from her bosses, colleagues and students.

The Family Papers contain biographical material in the form of resumes, obituaries and diaries of several of McHenry's family members. The Biographical Information contains McHenry's birth certificate, academic transcripts, resumes, job applications and newspaper articles about her. The Memorabilia contains mementos saved by McHenry from piano recitals she gave, events she participated in and honors she was awarded such as a script from the 1952 Mount Holyoke College Junior show and a Phi Beta Kappa initiation sign. The Yearbook series contains McHenry's high school yearbooks. The Calendars and Planners series contains daily planners from McHenry's time as an undergraduate. The Subject Files contain programs from symposia she attended, instructions for grading Education Testing Services exams and lists of people and addresses arranged by McHenry. The Scrapbook contains birthday cards from her birth through age 10. The Photographs series contains photographs of McHenry and others 1933-1990s.


  • Creation: 1933 - 1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1946 - 1993

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Mary Elizabeth Williamson Murphy McHenry, Mount Holyoke College graduate and Mount Holyoke College professor of English, was born on January 23, 1933 in Washington DC to Alphonso Williamson, a supply officer at the Library of Congress, and Elizabeth Bennett Williamson, a teacher. She attended high school at the Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie, New York from 1946-1950, Mount Holyoke College from 1950-1954 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in English, received a master's degree in English Literature from Columbia University in 1960 and did graduate work beyond the master's level at George Washington University from 1961-1964. She married Harry Saunders Murphy, Jr. on July 31, 1954 and divorced circa 1959. She married Donald F. McHenry circa 1962 and divorced on August 18, 1976. She had one son with Murphy and two daughters with McHenry. McHenry taught as an instructor of English at Howard University from 1960-1963 and at George Washington University from 1964-1969. She was a Professor of English at Federal City College (now the University of DC) from 1969-1974. McHenry was an English professor at Mount Holyoke College from 1974-1998 and was also a member of the American Studies and the Black (later African-American) Studies departments.


10.43 Linear Feet (25 full Hollinger boxes; 1 folio item not included in linear feet calculation)

Language of Materials



McHenry, Mary Elizabeth Williamson Murphy, 1933-present; college professor of English. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1954. Mount Holyoke College faculty, 1974-1998. Papers contain correspondence, writings and speeches, course records, yearbooks, calendars and planners, subject files, family papers, biographical information, memorabilia, photographs and scrapbooks. Primarily concerning her academic work and social activities as a student at the Oakwood School and Mount Holyoke College, her teaching career at Mount Holyoke College and her experiences as an African-American student and professor during the 1940s-1990s.

Processing Information

Processed by Danielle Ryan, 2006

Mary McHenry Papers, 1933-1996
Finding aid prepared by Danielle Ryan.
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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