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Origins and governance collection

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 02

Scope and Contents

Materials in the Origins and Governance Collection date from 1834 to the present and are arranged in nine series: Committee of 1834 Records; Charters and Acts of Incorporation; Name Changes; Statutes; Heraldry; Collegiate Status; Policy Documents and Studies; Coeducation; and Self-Studies and Reports. A ledger notebook for the Committee of 1834 (1834-1835) contains minutes of meetings of a group of men who supported Mary Lyon's efforts to establish Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Charters and Acts of Incorporation (1836, 1868-1970) and Name Changes (1888, 1893, 1988) materials include copies of Mount Holyoke's original 1836 charter and documents reflecting the school's transition from a seminary to a degree-granting college. Statutes (circa 1841-1994) concern the duties of teachers, regulations governing student behavior, and parodies of Mount Holyoke's regulations known as the Blue Laws and Fire Laws. Heraldry materials (1838-2001) consist of historical sketches, articles, correspondence, drawings, photographs, and samples concerning Mount Holyoke's color, seal, and logos. A Collegiate Status certificate (1955) confirms the College's membership in the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Policy Documents and Studies consist of minutes, reports, studies, correspondence, and questionnaires documenting the work of the Mount Holyoke Committee of Four (originally formed as the Committee of Ten) from 1936-1938; a group of students who prepared A Working Paper on Education for Mount Holyoke College in 1969; the Fact-Finding Committee on Coeducation (1968-1970); the Danforth Workshop Committee (1972-1973); and the Ad Hoc Committee on Communications and Decision-Making (1974-1976). There is also a Conference Report on Equal Opportunity for Women: University Affirmative Action Programs by Mount Holyoke professors Marjorie Childers and Penny Martin (later Gill) in December, 1972. Coeducation materials (1923-present) consist of articles, correspondence, speeches, questionnaires, studies, and reports concerning the advantages and disadvantages of coeducation and single-sex education, particularly for women. Self-Studies and Reports (1977-present) contains documents relating to accreditation reviews of Mount Holyoke College by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education as well self-studies and reports prepared between 1989-2003 for strategic plans for Mount Holyoke in the 1990s, 2003, and 2010.

Material from this collection is available in an online digital format.


  • Creation: 1834-

Conditions Governing Access

Materials relating to accreditation reviews of Mount Holyoke College by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education are restricted to use by the office/department of origin for 25 years from the date of records creation. All other materials in the collection are unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

Mount Holyoke Female Seminary was established by educator Mary Lyon, who in 1832 began making plans for a school for the higher education of women that would own its own property and not be a for-profit venture. She enlisted the support of several clergymen and businessmen in and around Ipswich, Massachusetts, where she had been working as a teacher at Ipswich Female Seminary since 1828. Seven of these individuals - David Choate, Daniel Dana, Joseph Felt, George W. Heard, Edward Hitchcock, Asa Howland, and Theophilus Packard - formed a committee in September, 1834 that selected South Hadley, Massachusetts as the location for the school and worked to obtain a charter for the institution from the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that was granted on February 11, 1836. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened on November 7, 1837. The academic program expanded from three to four years in 1861/62 and students who completed the prescribed course of study received diplomas. In the late 1880s, in response to competition from degree-granting women's colleges, Mount Holyoke successfully petitioned the state legislature for a charter change that was granted on March 8, 1888. At that time, the name of the school changed to Mount Holyoke Seminary and College and the first degrees were awarded on June 27, 1889. The Seminary Program that did not lead to a degree was phased out and another change to the charter granted on January 31, 1893 marked the institution's transformation into Mount Holyoke College.


3.13 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Origins and Governance Collection brings together materials concerning the creation and administration of Mount Holyoke College, an institution for the higher education of women that was founded by Mary Lyon, granted a charter as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, and opened in 1837. Materials date from 1834 to the present and include a ledger notebook, charters, acts, regulations, minutes, planning documents, publications, speeches, questionnaires, drawings, and photographs.

Processing Information

Processed by Patricia J. Albright, 2007-present. Peter Carini assisted with the arrangement and description of these materials from 1997-1999.

Origins and Governance Collection, 1834-present
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Patricia J. Albright.
Language of description
Script of description
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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