Skip to main content

Richard Glenn Gettell records

Identifier: RG 04-04

Scope and Contents

The Richard Glenn Gettell Records date from 1954-1969. Most materials document activities events and issues during his administration as President of Mount Holyoke College. There are also some documents concerning Four College cooperation that date from the administration of Gettell's predecessor, Roswell Gray Ham (President, 1937-1957). The records are arranged in these series: Correspondence, Writings, Ad Hoc Committee to Consider Rules and Standards Records, United States-India Women's College Exchange Program Records, Subject Files, Inauguration Records, Gettell's Appointment Book, Biographical Information, Film, and Photographs.

Correspondence (1957-1969) consists of letters by and to Gettell, primarily reflecting his contacts with individuals whom he invited to present Commencement or Convocation addresses and receive honorary degrees. Other correspondence is with Mount Holyoke trustees, alumnae, faculty, staff, students, and parents of students as well as with friends and colleagues, including letters responding to the announcement of his resignation as President in September, 1967.

Writings (1957-1968) consist of speeches and articles by Gettell. These documents include his inaugural address, A Plea for the Uncommon Woman (1957), copies of his Seventeen magazine article about The Age of Discretion (1966), and a speech entitled What Price Coeducation? (1967).

Ad Hoc Committee to Consider Rules and Standards Records (1961-1963) consist of minutes and agenda, correspondence, questionnaires, student opinions and questions, statements by committee members, articles, and reports. These materials document the work of members of the Mount Holyoke community who were asked by Gettell to develop a statement of sensible principles concerning social regulations for Mount Holyoke students.

United States-India Women's College Exchange Program Records (1963-1968) consist of proposals, statements of policies and procedures, minutes and agenda, correspondence, memoranda, reports, financial records, schedules, brochures, articles, applications, letters of recommendation, and a contract for the work of a Mount Holyoke faculty member, Lorraine Benner, at the Women's Christian College in Madras, India. These materials concern the activities of and participants in a program established in 1963 to promote the exchange of faculty and staff members at women's colleges in each country.

Subject Files (1954-1969) contain minutes, correspondence, reports, the text of speeches by Gettell and others, financial records, statistics, programs, charts, lists, schedules, memoranda, press releases, and articles. Most of these documents concern Mount Holyoke's finances and facilities, conferences and other programs in which Gettell or the College participated, and cooperative work by the Four Colleges: Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Inauguration Records (1957-1958) consist of minutes and agenda, correspondence, reports, announcements, guest lists, congratulatory citations, speeches, programs, and newspaper clippings about the inauguration ceremony held for Gettell on November 9, 1957.

Gettell's Appointment Book (1967) records his appointments for meetings and events at Mount Holyoke and includes references to his recreational activities and vacations.

Biographical Information (1957-1968) consists of press releases and newspaper clippings documenting Gettell's activities as President of Mount Holyoke and events during his tenure.

The Film (1967) is of an interview of Gettell for a Seattle, Washington television program in 1962. His remarks are on the topic of What's New in the Schoolhouse? Young Women in Today's College World.

Photographs (1957-1968) consist of images of Gettell's inaugural ceremony in November, 1957; formal and informal photographs of Gettell alone or with Mount Holyoke trustees, students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and visitors; and photographs documenting his participation in the Colleges commencement activities and other events. Also included are photographs of Landonia Gettell.


  • Creation: 1954-1969

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Use of this 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. He 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 at Berkeley 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 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 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 Eisenhower's policy statement to Congress concerning foreign economic development. In addition Gettell was Rapporteur for and a member of the United States Council of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1954-1957.

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 Gettells 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 in 1957 and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 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.


6.21 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

Language of Materials



Gettell, Richard Glenn, 1912-1988; economist, college and university teacher and administrator. Mount Holyoke College President, 1957-1968. Records concern activities, issues and events during his tenure as President of Mount Holyoke College and consist of correspondence, writings, materials relating to the College's Ad Hoc Committee to Consider Rules and Standards and to the United States-India Women's College Exchange Program, subject files, inauguration records, an appointment book, biographical information, a color film of an interview of Gettell, and photographs. Includes photographs of Landonia Gettell.

Related Material

The Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections also includes the Richard Glenn Gettell Papers, 1880-1989 (Bulk: 1924-1970)

Processing Information

Processed by Patricia J. Albright and Kirsten Hansen, 2008

Richard Glenn Gettell Records, 1954-1969
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright and Kirsten Hansen.
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