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Roswell Gray Ham records

 Series — Box: 1
Identifier: RG 04-03

Scope and Contents

Personal and professional documents concerning Roswell G. Ham include correspondence from 1937-1981; articles, addresses and speeches dated 1937-1957; biographical material consisting of news clippings (particularly of his eldest son, Roswell G. Ham, Jr.); inauguration programs, etc.; extensive documentation of the Presidential controversy (1936-1937) comprising letters, news releases, clippings, articles, petitions from alumnae to the President of the Trustees Alva Morrison, questionnaires, etc; obituaries, tributes and memorials; photographs; and card files of Ham's correspondence. Included is an FBI folder on Ham's sponsorship of the American Spanish Aid Committee, American Rescue Ship Missions, etc. Ham's correspondence mainly deals with invitations to Commencement speakers and includes correspondence with alumnae and letters granting honorary Mount Holyoke degrees. Material concerning the Presidential controversy includes letters to Ham, among them correspondence from alumnae who opposed or supported his appointment.


  • Creation: 1937 - 1957

Conditions Governing Access


Historical Note

Roswell G. Ham was born in 1891, in LeMoore, CA. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, he served in World War I before obtaining his PhD in English from Yale, in 1925. He taught there until 1937, when he was controversially appointed the first male President of Mount Holyoke. Continuous development of the physical and financial assets of the College was a feature of his presidency. Some of the new buildings erected were the remodeling of the 1897 chapel into the Charles Clinton Abbey Memorial Chapel (1938); a sports complex, Kendall Hall (1950); Newcombe Cleveland Hall and Carr Laboratory (1955); and Gorse Child Study Center (1953). In addition, the endowment, student fees and the value of the physical plant doubled and enrollment increased by 25%. Ham was a staunch advocate of close cooperation with other colleges. In 1951, Mount Holyoke, Smith College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts launched a cooperative effort to establish an Inter-Library Center. This was later instrumental in the founding of Hampshire College and ultimately evolved into Five Colleges, Inc., one of the most successful consortiums in the country. During Ham's tenure, internship programs were established and interdepartmental courses were added to the curriculum. The latter were the forerunners to the interdepartmental majors and minors currently offered to students. Ham retired in 1957 and a dormitory, Ham Hall, was named for him in 1965. He died in 1983.


3.42 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials



Personal and professional documents concerning Roswell G. Ham include correspondence from 1937-1981.

Roswell Gray Ham Records, 1937-1957
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Archives and Special Collections.
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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