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David B. Truman papers

Identifier: MS 0847

Scope and Contents

The David B. Truman Papers date from 1935-1999 and contain correspondence, organizations materials, lectures, books and published materials, an unpublished manuscript, speeches, and memorabilia and clippings. Most materials in the collection document primarily his work as an educator and political scientist. Correspondence chiefly concerns his experiences as an administrator at Columbia University (1963-1969) and Mount Holyoke College (1969-1978) and his contacts with colleagues and former students. There are also personal letters from friends describing post-World War II conditions in Japan and Germany, letters by his wife, Elinor Truman, describing the Trumans' travels in Europe in 1963-1963, and letters to Truman from his son, Edwin M. Truman, including one concerning his father's views of the Vietnam War. Organizations materials consist of minutes, reports, correspondence, publications and invitations reflecting Truman's active membership in numerous professional organizations, including the American Political Science Association of which he served as President in December of 1965-1966. There are also copies of interrogations of Japanese officials and other documents relating to his work for the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific Theater) in 1945-1946. Lectures (1954-1994) and Speeches (1939-1992) chiefly consist of copies of Truman's presentations at professional meetings, Mount Holyoke College convocation and commencement ceremonies, and meetings of Columbia University and Mount Holyoke alumni and alumnae. Books and Published Materials (1950-1965) include correspondence, research materials, and critiques relating to Truman's books and other writings. The Unpublished Manuscript (1992-1995) is entitled Reflections on the Columbia Disorders of 1968 and is Truman's memoir of the events at Columbia prior to, during and after the student-led uprising at the university. Memorabilia and clippings (1945-1976) consist of certificates reflecting his membership in various organization and newspaper articles about his career; particularly his years at Columbia University and Mount Holyoke College.


  • Creation: 1921-1999

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

David Bicknell Truman, a political scientist and college and university administrator, was born on June 1, 1913, in Evanston, Illinois to Malcolm George Truman and Jane Mackintosh Truman. He graduated from Evanston High School in 1931 and attended Amherst College, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1935. He received his M.A. (1936) and Ph.D. (1939) in political science from the University of Chicago. On February 4, 1939 he married Elinor Jane Griffenhagen. They had a son, Edwin Malcolm Truman. After serving in the United States Navy during World War II and participating in the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of the Pacific Theater in 1945-1946, Truman taught political science at Bennington College (1939-1941), Cornell University (1941-1944), Harvard University (1946-1947) and Williams College (1947-1951). He began teaching at Columbia University in 1951, where he also served as the Dean from 1963-1967 and Vice President and Provost from 1967-1969 (a position he held during the student-led takeover of that institution). In 1969, he resigned from Columbia to become president of Mount Holyoke College. Achievements and events during his administration included Mount Holyoke's recommitment to remaining a college for women; revisions to the curriculum that included the formation of the Black Studies Department and numerous interdepartmental and interdisciplinary programs; changes in regulations concerning male guests in dormitories and alcohol use by students; the strengthening of cooperative relationships among the Five Colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst); the creation of a Black Cultural Center; and the construction of the Art Building and Willits-Hallowell Center. Truman retired from Mount Holyoke in 1978 and served as president of the Russell Sage Foundation, from 1978-1979. During his career, Truman wrote and published extensively and was an active member of several educational organizations and societies, including the American Political Science Association, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He died on August 28, 2003 in Sarasota, Florida at the age of ninety.


10.84 Linear Feet (26 full Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



David Bicknell Truman, 1913-2003; Political scientist, college and university professor and administrator. Mount Holyoke College president, 1969-1978. Papers consist of correspondence, documents relating to organizations in which Truman was active, his published and unpublished writings, memorabilia, and newspaper clippings, primarily documenting his work as an educator and political scientist. Includes material concerning his work with United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific Theater), 1945-1946 and his autobiographical account of the 1968 Columbia University student-led takeover of the school.


This collection is organized into seven series:

  1. Correspondence (1935-1996, bulk 1951-1969)
  2. Organizations (1941-1989)
  3. Lectures (1954-1994)
  4. Books and Published Materials (1950-1965)
  5. Manuscript, Unpublished (1992-1995)
  6. Speeches (1939-1992)
  7. Memorabilia and Clippings(1945-1976)


Truman's arrangement of his papers has been retained in this collection.

Processing Information

Charlene van Dijk, 2006-2007

David B. Truman Papers, 1921,1935-1999
Finding aid prepared by Charlene van Dijk.
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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