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Richard Glenn Gettell papers

Identifier: MS 0859

Scope and Contents

The Richard Glenn Gettell Papers date from 1880-1989 and consist of correspondence, writings, education records, subject files, financial and legal documents, memorabilia, Gettell family materials, autobiographical and biographical materials, sound recordings, and photographs. These materials primarily document his personal and professional life from 1924 until his death in 1988 and contain information about his secondary, undergraduate, and graduate education; Merchant Marine service; work as an economist and educator; and hobbies and travels.

Correspondence (1930-1986) consists of personal letters to Gettell as well as letters by him. Correspondents include relatives (particularly mother, Nelene Groff Knapp Gettell), friends, professional colleagues, and Mount Holyoke College trustees, faculty, staff, alumnae, and students. Topics discussed in these letters include his experiences at Amherst College, plans for graduate studies, employment prospects, and decision to separate from his first wife, Eunice Burdick Gettell.

Writings (circa 1923-1988) consist of Gettell's published articles, reports, and speeches, unpublished materials, and correspondence and legal documents relating to his works. Most of his publications reflect his work as an economist. Unpublished materials include original verses (many written for Landonia Gettell) and typescripts, scores and lyrics for his original musical, The Saucerer's Apprentice, written under the name Glenn Richards in 1952-1953.

Education Materials (1880-1883, 1906, 1924-1982) consist of correspondence, course records, transcripts, report cards, diplomas, certificates, financial records, programs and newspaper articles primarily concerning his studies at Amherst College (1929-1933) and the University of California (1935-1937, Ph.D. 1940). Of note in the Amherst materials are letters relating to his involvement with the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, debate and musical organizations, and the football team. Materials for his graduate work in economics and political science include syllabi, notes, readings, and papers for course records and his dissertation. Education materials also include historical documents about Alpha Delta Phi (1880-1883) and a copy of a 1906 magazine from Gettell's high school that contains several caricatures of African-Americans. There is also post-graduation correspondence relating to Amherst (including the College's decision to admit women in 1973) and an article that Gettell wrote about one of his former University of California professors, Ira B. Cross (1950).

A significant portion of the collection documents Gettell's work as an economist for the United States Department of Commerce Bureaus for Foreign and Domestic Commerce and Labor Statistics (1933-1935), the Textile Price Branch of the United States Office of Price Administration (1941-1943), the United States Army Air Force (1943-1956), Time, Inc. (1945-1953), the United States Council of the International Chamber of Commerce (1947-1957), the Texas Company (1953-1957), and the Haas Community Funds (1969-1970). These materials include letters by and to Gettell, copies of many speeches, articles, reports, surveys, and studies by him, and a variety of personnel records. In addition, Sound Recordings (Series 22, 1948-circa 1953) in the collection are of speeches by and interviews of Gettell in his role as chief staff economist for Time, Inc. There are also correspondence and other documents concerning his youthful service in the Merchant Marine (1927-1928) on three voyages to the South Seas, Australia, and Hawaii.

Materials concerning Gettell's career as a teacher and college administrator include correspondence, course records, articles, notes, memorabilia, and tributes. His teaching activities at Harvard University (1938), Wellesley College (1938), Yale University (1938-1941), and the Columbia University School of Business Administration (1947-1948) are documented by correspondence about each position as well as syllabi, examinations, lecture notes, and lists of students. Materials from his tenure as President of Mount Holyoke College (1957-1968) primarily consist of correspondence, notes, memorabilia, newspaper articles, and retirement tributes. Of particular note are a scrapbook, poster, thank you notes, and other documents made or collected for the Gettells by Tamara Brooks Knell, music professor and Director of Choral Singing at Mount Holyoke from 1967-1970. Most of these materials reflect the Gettells' interest in the Mount Holyoke College Chamber Singers, a group formed and directed by Knell. There are also three letters by Knell: a thank you note (circa 1968) to the Gettells for their kindness toward her and two letters (February and June 1975) describing experiences of Knell and her husband, Foreign Service officer David Grimland during and after the 1974 military coup and Turkish invasion in Cyprus. These documents also include letters and telegrams congratulating him on his appointment as President, his personal correspondence with Mount Holyoke trustees, and notes written by Gettell after he accepted the position at Mount Holyoke reflecting his thoughts, and questions about his new role and home.

Subject Files (1924-1968) contain correspondence, applications, contracts, scripts, programs, brochures, newspaper articles, memoranda, lists, tickets, membership cards, and badges. Most of these materials reflect Gettell's personal interests and activities such as his membership in the Boy Scouts of America (1924-1925), participation in a World Tour Travel Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle (1925), interest in joining a Caribbean-East Indies anthropological and medical expedition to the South Sea as part of his preparation for graduate work (1931-1932), and hobby of deep-sea fishing (1961-1968). Another file (1946-1966) concerns the Gettells' interest in the Encampment for Citizenship, a summer camp for young adults founded by Algernon D. Black in 1946 through the New York Society for Ethical Culture. There are also materials documenting Gettell's financial involvement in several musical theatre productions in New York City (1952-1954) or at the Melody Fair summer concert hall in North Tonawanda, New York.

Financial and Legal Records (1912, 1930-1988) include tax returns, lists of investments, birth and death certificates, wills, leases, agreements, passports, and memoranda. Of note is Gettell's notarized statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1947) concerning his occupancy of an apartment in Washington, D.C, in a house where Communist Party meetings had taken place. Some of the financial records concern the estate of his father, Raymond G. Gettell, who died in 1949.

Autobiographical and Biographical Materials (1912-1988) consist of Gettell's baby book, his curriculum vitae and other biographical summaries, correspondence, articles, notes, and obituaries. These materials include his Check list for periodic stock-taking from the 1930s and documents concerning his physical and mental health (1952, 1954, 1967, 1988) and death (1988-1989). Memorabilia (1932-1976, n.d.) consists of passes, notes, lists, cards, certificates, publications, tickets, receipts, an address book, and insignia. These items include one of Gettell's World War II ration books, Christmas cards that he wrote and illustrated, and documents reflecting his travels.

Gettell Family Materials (1895, circa 1909-1949, 1965, n.d.) consist of correspondence, articles, notes, and an invitation relating to members of Gettell's family. These items include biographical notes, an obituary, and tributes concerning his father and two notes (1920s) to his mother from Lyla Young, wife of the governor of California.

Photographs (circa 1906-1986) chiefly consist of formal portraits or informal snapshots of Gettell alone or with others (1914-1970). These images include photographs taken as a young man and later photographs from his years at Time, Inc. or Mount Holyoke College. Informal photographs include those taken on fishing trips and other vacations or at Mount Holyoke. Photographs of Gettell with others document both is professional activities and personal life. There are images from his work with United States Air Force during World War II, on speaking engagements while working for Time, Inc., and his inauguration as President of Mount Holyoke (1957). Other photographs are of Gettell's family members, particularly Landonia Gettell. These images include photographs taken on the Gettell's 1948 wedding trip to California and the Caribbean. Additional photographs are of other people as well as places (circa 1920s-1986). These images include photographs of participants in the ABC (A Better Chance) program at Mount Holyoke (1965), members of the Mount Holyoke Class of 1961 at reunions (1981, 1986), the Gettells and others at the Encampment for Peace (circa 1946), and Gettell's residences in California and New York City (circa 1920s-1956).

Oversize (Folio) Material (1948-1961) contains oversize items described as part of other series in the collection. The container list description of these items includes an indication that they are shelved in Folio. Among the materials in this series are a photograph album (1948) documenting the Gettell's trip to the Caribbean on their honeymoon and a color portrait of Gettell as Mount Holyoke's President (circa 1961).


  • Creation: 1880 - 1989
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1924 - 1970

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

Richard Glenn Gettell, economist and college and university teacher and administrator, was born on March 3, 1912 in Hartford, Connecticut to Raymond Garfield Gettell, a political scientist and teacher, and Nelene Groff Knapp Gettell. The Gettells moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1914 and to Berkeley, California in 1923. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Amherst and Garfield Junior High School in Berkeley then went to University High School in Oakland, California from 1924-1927. Too young to enroll in college, Gettell joined the Merchant Marine and served on three voyages to the South Seas, Australia, and Hawaii in 1927-1928. He attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1928-1929 and Amherst College from 1929-1933. At Amherst, he sang in choirs, served as president of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and manager of the freshman football team, participated in the debating society, and graduated with high honors in economics. He also took classes at the University of California in Berkeley during the summer of 1932. After working as Executive Secretary of the Amherst Club of New York, N.Y. from July-December 1933, he went to Washington, D.C. as the personal assistant to one of his former Amherst professors, Willard L. Thorp, who was Special Economic Adviser to the United States Department of Commerce. From 1933-1935, Gettell was a junior economist or special assistant in the Bureau for Foreign and Domestic Commerce and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He attended the University of California from 1935-1937 and received a Ph.D. in economics in 1940.

In 1938, Gettell became an instructor and tutor of economics and a research assistant at Harvard University. Concurrently, he was an instructor of economics at Wellesley College. He married his first wife, Eunice Burdick on September 10, 1938. He was an instructor and assistant professor of economics at Yale University from 1938-1941, when Yale granted him a leave of absence to work as an economist for the Textile Price Branch of the Office of Price Administration in Washington, D.C. He was in charge of rationing shoes and industrial rubber footwear during World War II. In 1943, Gettell became an operations analyst for what was then called the United States Army Air Force. He served with combat commands in England, Washington, D.C. and Guam and was a special consultant to the operations analysis division of the United States Air Force headquarters from 1945-1960. During the Korean War (1951-1953), he served for six months with the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Weapons Evaluation Group.

Gettell began working for Time, Inc. in December, 1945. He was chief staff economist and assistant to the publisher of Fortune magazine from 1945-1950 and chief staff economist from 1950-1953. He also was a lecturer in economics at the Columbia University School of Business Administration in 1947-1948. He divorced his first wife in 1946 (she later married Richard H. Demuth) and married Landonia Brock Richards on June 9, 1948.

Gettell became chief foreign economist for The Texas Company in December, 1953. He also served as a consultant to the White House staff and was a member of the Task Force of the Cabinet Committee on Energy Resources and Supplies in the Office of Defense Management. In 1954, he played a major role in preparing President Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy statement to Congress concerning foreign economic development. In addition, Gettell was a Rapporteur for and a member of the United States Council of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1947-1957.

Gettell became the thirteenth President of Mount Holyoke College in 1957. He launched an ambitious fund-raising effort that culminated in the Fund for the Future capital campaign during the College's celebration of its one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary in 1962. Most of these funds went to increasing faculty salaries, doubling the endowment, and constructing the Prospect, 1837, Ham, and MacGregor Hall dormitories, the Pattie J. Groves Health Center, the Psychology and Education Building, Alice Withington Rooke Laboratory Theatre, Eliot House (the center for religious life on campus) and an outdoor amphitheater. He also oversaw the renovation of several existing buildings, including Williston Memorial Library. Increasing numbers of African-American and Latina students were admitted to Mount Holyoke during Gettell's administration and he supported the ABC (A Better Chance) Program which encouraged minority girls to go to college. He also helped develop a student exchange program with Bennett College and approved Mount Holyoke's participation in the United States-India Women's College Exchange Program for faculty and staff. He was one of the founding trustees of Hampshire College and served as an active member of the boards of numerous other organizations, including the College of the Virgin Islands. He received honorary degrees from Amherst College (1957) and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1962). Mount Holyoke awarded him an honorary degree in 1970 and named the amphitheater in his honor.

Gettell was uncomfortable with the desire of many students to abolish Mount Holyoke's long-standing chapel attendance requirement and liberalize social regulations such as those concerning alcohol use and parietals (the policy for allowing men in dormitory rooms). He announced his decision to resign as President in September of 1967 and left office on November 11, 1968. He served as a consultant to the Haas Community Funds in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1969-1970, then retired and returned to live in California where he died in Menlo Park on August 14, 1988 at the age of seventy-six.


13.35 Linear Feet (28 full Hollinger and 8 half Hollinger boxes; 1 folio box (not included in linear feet calculation))

Language of Materials



Gettell, Richard Glenn, 1912-1988; economist, college and university teacher and administrator. Mount Holyoke College president, 1957-1968. Papers consist of correspondence, writings, education records (primarily for his years at Amherst College and the University of California), materials concerning his employment, subject files, financial and legal documents, memorabilia, Gettell family materials, biographical materials, sound recordings, and photographs documenting both his personal and professional life. Include materials concerning his Merchant Marine service, work as an economist for several corporations and United States government, and his career as a teacher or administrator at Mount Holyoke College and elsewhere. Also include materials about his interests in deep-sea fishing, music, and theater and his travels to the Caribbean area and elsewhere with his wife, Landonia Gettell.

Related Material

The Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections also includes the Mount Holyoke College. Office of the President. Richard Glenn Gettell Records, 1954-1969

Processing Information

Processed by Patricia J. Albright and Kirsten A. Hansen, 2009

Richard Glenn Gettell Papers, 1880-1989 (bulk 1924-1970)
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright and Kirsten A. Hansen.
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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