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French Department records

 Series — Box: 1
Identifier: RG 18-15

Scope and Contents

The Mount Holyoke College French Department Records contain newspaper clippings; historical sketches; press releases; flyers; brochures; reports; examinations; play programs; and photographs. The records include material related to the goals and aims of the department as well as an historical account of the first hundred years of the department. Information pertaining to Le Foyer, the French house on campus, can also be found in the records along with information regarding contests and prizes in the department and an experimental program for teaching French to elementary school students in South Hadley, MA. Among the course records are course examinations, entrance examinations, and comprehensive examinations. Advertisements for lectures, conferences, and performances are included in addition to some information about the Alliance Francaise. The annual reports of the department to the President of the College can be found in the records. These reports include information pertaining to enrollment and course registration; additions and changes to the curriculum; faculty activities; faculty course loads and leaves of absence; French majors; graduate students; changes in personnel; honor work in the department; scholarships and prizes; lectures; and various department activities. The photographs contained in the records depict students, faculty, and staff in dramatic performances, language laboratories, Le Foyer, and classrooms.


  • Creation: 1893-

Language of Materials note

French Department Box 1 - Ser. A & B is entirely in English. French Department Box 2 - Ser. C to H is mostly in French, with some English throughout.

Conditions Governing Access

Records restricted to use by office/department of origin for 25 years from date of record creation.

Historical Note

French has been taught at Mount Holyoke since the early days of the Seminary. When Mary Lyon first designed Mount Holyoke's curriculum, she included French as an extracurricular subject. In 1842, Edward Church, a native of France, taught the subject with an emphasis on speaking and understanding the spoken language as well as reading French. In 1876, Margarethe Vitzhum von Eckstadt began teaching French at the Seminary. One of her accomplishments was establishing French in the curriculum on the same basis as other subjects. Additionally, under her advising, many French plays were given and lecturers were invited from other colleges and from France to stimulate in students an interest in French literature. In 1876, Mount Holyoke became one of the first colleges in the nation to require the study of a modern foreign language in addition to a classical language. At the time of Mount Holyoke's transition from Seminary to College, French became one of the requirements for admission to the College. The department began to offer four areas of study in French: classical, seminary, literary, and scientific. The 1920s saw the beginning of the Junior Year in France program, and students began to study abroad as a part of their major in French. The goal of the department was to develop skills in the language and to provide a broad and varied acquaintance with French language and culture. From the beginning, French was the language of the classroom; all courses were taught in French. The department has undergone several name and form changes in its history. In 1934/1935, the French department became a part of the new department called Romance Languages. In the 1941/1942 academic year, the department became Romance Languages and Literature (French). Becoming independent in 1942/1943, the department was called French Language and Literature until 1959/1960. Since 1960/1961, the department has simply been called the Department of French.


0.83 Linear Feet (2 full Hollinger boxes)


The Mount Holyoke College French Department Records contain newspaper clippings; historical sketches; press releases; flyers; brochures; reports; examinations; play programs; and photographs.

French Department Records
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Archives and Special Collections Staff.
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