Skip to main content

David B. Truman records

Identifier: RG 04-06

Scope and Contents

The David B. Truman Records span the years 1906-1979 with most materials dating from his tenure as President of Mount Holyoke College (1969-1978). These records document activities, events and issues during his administration; there are also some documents from the administrations of his predecessors Richard Glenn Gettell (President, 1957-1968, Roswell Gray Ham (President, 1937-1957), and Mary Emma Woolley (President, 1901-1937). Correspondence (1969-1978) consists of letters written by Truman as well as letters addressed to him from Mount Holyoke students and their parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, trustees, Richard Glenn Gettell, Roswell Gray Ham, and professional colleagues. Topics discussed in these letters include African American students at Mount Holyoke, changes in parietals (rules concerning male visitors in dormitories) and other regulations governing student behavior, and issues relating to the Vietnam War such as the nationwide protest strike in which Mount Holyoke students participated in May, 1970. There are also letters objecting to appearances at the College by Edward Moore. Kennedy and William Doyle Ruckelshaus and to writings by two Mount Holyoke alumnae: Miss Marks and Miss Woolley, by Anna Mary Wells (Class of 1926) and Uncommon Women and Others, by Wendy Wasserstein (Class of 1971). Writings (1969-1978) chiefly consist of copies of speeches that Truman gave to students, alumnae, and other members of the Mount Holyoke College community. These documents include his inaugural, commencement, and convocation addresses and his remarks on the occasion of the Vietnam Moratorium, a nationwide demonstration held on October 15, 1969 to protest United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Subject Files (1906-1979) contain minutes, agenda, correspondence, reports, surveys, grant applications, financial records and publications. Many of the subjects discussed in Truman's Correspondence are also covered by these materials, which principally date from 1969-1978. These records also concern the activities of departments, offices, committees and programs at Mount Holyoke, curricular revisions, the use of computers at the College, the construction of Willits Hallowell Conference Center and the Art Building, renovations to Williston Memorial Library, energy conservation on campus, and Mount Holyoke's association with Five Colleges, Inc. Inauguration Records (1969-1970) consist of minutes and agenda, correspondence, reports, invitations, programs and other printer materials, guest lists and financial records concerning Truman's installation as President of Mount Holyoke College. Biographical Material (1969-1978) contains sketches, articles, and press releases relating to Truman's career as an educator and political scientists. Photographs (ca.1969-1978) consist of formal and information photographs of Truman, photographs taken during the inauguration and retirement ceremonies held for him, and a photograph of Marion Miller's portrait of him. These images also include photographs of his wife, Elinor G. Truman. Sound recordings (1969-1978) contain audio cassettes of speeches, remarks, and readings by Truman. These tapes include his comments about the Vietnam War. Video recordings (1969) consist of two tapes showing events during Truman's inauguration as President of Mount Holyoke.


  • Creation: 1906-1978
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1969 - 1978

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.).

Historical 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.


16.22 Linear Feet (23 boxes)

Language of Materials



Truman, David Bicknell, 1913-2003; Political scientist, college and university professor and administrator. Mount Holyoke College President, 1969-1978. Records concern activities, issues and events during his tenure as President of Mount Holyoke College and include documents from administrations of Richard Glenn Gettell (President, 1957-1968), Roswell Gray Ham (President, 1937-1957), and Mary Emma Woolley (President, 1901-1937). Consist of letters by and to Truman; copies of his speeches and other writings; subject files containing correspondence, reports, and other documents; records relating to his inauguration; biographical material; photographs, and sound and video recordings. Includes materials concerning changes in parietals and other regulations governing students, Mount Holyoke's efforts to enroll more African-American students, and responses by members of the College community to the Vietnam War.


This collection is organized into eight series:

  1. Correspondence (1969-1978)
  2. Writings (1969-1978)
  3. Subject Files (1906-1979)
  4. Inauguration Records (1969-1970)
  5. Biographical Material (1969-1978)
  6. Photographs (ca. 1969-1978)
  7. Sound Recordings (1969-1978)
  8. Video Recordings (1969)

History of the Collection

Most records in this collection were transferred to the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections between 1976-2004.


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

Processing Information

Processed by Patricia J. Albright and Julie A. Singley, 2007.

David B. Truman Records, 1906-1978 (bulk 1969-1978)
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright and Julie A. Singley.
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