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Faculty governance records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 16

Scope and Contents

Mount Holyoke College Faculty Governance Records date from 1896-2011 and consist of a wide range of materials which primarily reflect the ways in which faculty develop and regulate the academic program at the College. The records concern all aspects of the curriculum and academic work of students and include materials relating to classroom, laboratory, and library facilities. They also document efforts by the faculty to regulate student behavior, especially with regard to the impact of their activities on their course work. In addition, the records concern the recruitment, evaluation, tenure, and benefits of faculty; faculty support of affirmative action initiatives and multicultural diversity at the College; the activities of the College chapter of the American Association of University Professors; named professorships at Mount Holyoke; and the social and cultural activities of faculty including their practice of periodically presenting a Faculty Show for the entertainment of students. The records are arranged in 8 series: Handbooks of Faculty Legislation, Faculty Meeting Minutes, Committee Records, Correspondence, Subject Files, American Association of University Professors, Mount Holyoke College Chapter Records, Named Professorships, and Faculty Show Records.

Handbooks of Faculty Legislation (1904-2008, with gaps) chiefly describe the curriculum, academic regulations, and procedures for evaluating students at the College. They contain information about the requirements for undergraduate and graduate degrees, honors work, and independent study, internships and tutorials; the grading system and content and schedule of examinations; registration procedures and policies concerning absences and illnesses of students; class schedules; and circumstances under which a student may be “excluded” from the College for academic or other reasons. Since 1972, the handbooks have included information reflecting Mount Holyoke’s cooperative relationships with Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The handbooks also provide detailed information about the organization and officers of the College. They list the names, membership and duties of faculty committees, describe the organization of departments and duties of department chairs, outline policies and procedures for academic advisers, and provide guidelines for proposing new courses, programs, or pilot projects. Beginning in 1948, these publications describe the requirements for and benefits of faculty. Handbooks issued through 1930 include regulations for the social behavior of students, such as when chaperons were requires, how many parties, dances, and plays students may have each semester, and when “callers” may be received. Those published since 1974 include guidelines and procedures relating to such issues as the use of human subjects for research, Mount Holyoke’s commitment to creating a diverse community, and the College’s policies concerning members of the community with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Faculty Meeting Minutes (1896-2011) chiefly consist of agenda and minutes for regular and special meetings of the faculty. They also include reports by College administrators and faculty committees; lists of the names and members of those committees; lists of members of the faculty who may vote at meetings; and published articles, brochures, and reports relating to topics and issues under discussion by the faculty. These materials document discussions of and decisions by the faculty concerning all aspects of the academic program at the College. Faculty grants and promotions, workload, and benefits are frequently mentioned as well and the minutes often include information about new, returning, or departing faculty as well as tributes to retiring or deceased faculty and staff. Reports by College administrators describe the financial state of the College, admissions trends, grading patterns, and plans for new buildings and improvements to the campus. The minutes also reflect faculty concern about the behavior of students, especially in relation to their academic programs. There are references to students’ church and chapel attendance, off-campus travel, use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, and dishonesty in class work and other violations of the honor code. Petitions from students relating to their academic programs, the creation of activities of organizations, or proposed changes to regulations or vacation schedules are part of the minutes, along with responses from the faculty. In addition, the minutes reveal how the faculty and other members of the Mount Holyoke community have responded to national and world events and trends. For example, they contain references to the impact of the 1918-1919 worldwide influenza epidemic on the College; faculty support for passage of an amendment to United States Constitution calling for prohibition of the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol; curricular developments and food conservation programs during World War I and World War II; the threat of atomic warfare and the construction of bomb shelters on campus in the 1950s; faculty reactions to the Vietnam War; and the impact on the College of the energy crisis in the early 1970s. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the minutes also reflect the College’s efforts to develop and support a more diverse community and trace the impact of the use of computers and other technological developments on the curriculum

Committee records (1896-2011) consist of agenda, minutes, reports, proposals, drafts, correspondence, memoranda, questionnaires, surveys, lists, announcements, notes, publications, photographs, and audiocassettes. Many of these records document the work of standing committees which shape and direct faculty decisions concerning admissions and financial aid policies, changes to the curriculum, graduate and honors work, class schedules, and other aspects of the academic program of the College. There are also records of committees and task forces (which sometimes include staff and students) established to consider specific categories of students and a variety of issues or concerns. Members of these committees have supervised international and graduate students, advocated for changes in faculty benefits, debated changes to faculty legislation, discussed the religious life at the College, and studied issues relating to multicultural concerns on campus such as the treatment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the community. Other committees have assisted administrators with planning for the best use of the College’s resources; promoted “mutual understanding and cooperation” among faculty, Trustees, and members of the Student Government Association; advised Trustees on socially responsible investing; and considered matters relating to grants for faculty, the use of technology on campus, and the care of animals used for research. Committees represented by extensive records include the Academic Committee and its successor, the Academic Policy Committee (1923-1998), The Board of Admissions (1920-1978), the Committees for Foreign Students and International Students (1927-1983), the Committee on Graduate Work (1922-1975), the Committee on Resources and Priorities (1975-1989), the Committee on Social Responsibility (1978-1990), the Educational Priorities Committee (1994-2003), the Faculty Conference Committee/Joint Conference Committee (1944-1998), and the Winter Term/January Program Committee (1970-1989). Of particular note in Board of Admissions records for 1937-1939 are references to Jewish students at Mount Holyoke.

Correspondence (1897-1986) consists of letters by faculty members as well as letters to them from students (current or prospective), Mount Holyoke’s President and other administrators, colleagues at other colleges and universities, and legislators and other government officials. Correspondence from 1897-1912 chiefly consist of letters from students discussing aspects of their academic work. These materials include a letter (circa 1903) from Emma P. Carr (Class of 1902, later a Mount Holyoke faculty member) concerning her plan to complete her undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. There is also letters (1899) from administrators at Bryn Mawr College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College discussing grading practices at those institutions and a letter (1901) from H.S. Jenanyan, Principal of the Asia Minor Apostolic Institute asking for support of that organization’s efforts “to relieve and educate” orphaned or fatherless children and the poor in Armenia and Asia Minor. Correspondence from 1913-1986 concerns aspects of Mount Holyoke’s administrative organization and academic program and responses by faculty to world events and social issues. A joint letter (1935) from College President Mary E. Woolley and Academic Dean Harriet M. Allyn is accompanied by a summary of faculty discussions concerning the reorganization of the curriculum to ensure “economy of academic operation” during the economic depression of the 1930s and to improve curricular offerings. Letters from 1919-1930 reflect strong faculty support for the establishment of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice (predecessor of the International Court of Justice). Other letters concern faculty views with regard to civil rights activities (1965), the Vietnam War (1967), and nuclear weapons (1982-1983).

Subject Files (1903-2003) contain constitutions, by-laws, agenda, minutes, reports, statements, plans, recommendations, financial records, programs, memoranda, invitations, announcements, lists, press releases, articles, menus, and photographs. Most of these materials concern faculty tenure, sabbaticals, benefits, social activities, and retirement. There are also documents relating to faculty grants, seminars, and research programs, including a project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation which encouraged integrating computer technology into the curriculum.

American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Mount Holyoke College Chapter Records (1916-2011) document the activities of members of an organization created to promote academic freedom and develop standards and procedures for maintaining the quality of education in colleges and universities in the United States. These records consist of constitutions and by-laws, minutes, reports, correspondence, surveys, membership lists, programs, announcements, invitations, and publications. A considerable portion of the records concern salary levels of and retirement policies for Mount Holyoke faculty. These materials also document faculty concerns about access to students’ records and their support of freedom of expression for members of the College community as well as outside speakers. The records include handbooks of “Information for Chapter Officers,” correspondence, questionnaires, surveys, newsletters, and publications of both the Massachusetts Chapter and the national organization

Records for Named Professorships at Mount Holyoke (1945-1992) consist of proposals, reports, correspondence, speeches, financial records, brochures, programs, announcements, invitations, articles, press releases, biographical sketches, lists, photographs, audiocassettes. These records a number of endowed professional chairs at the College, the first of which was the Florence Purington Visiting Professorship established in 1947 and named in honor of a member of the Class of 1886 who served as Mount Holyoke’s first Dean. Subsequent professorships were created for tenured faculty at the College or for distinguished visitors. The materials include information about the formation and funding of named professorships, descriptions of the responsibilities of individuals selected for these positions, and guidelines for recruiting and selecting candidates. There are also programs, press releases, speeches, and audiocassettes for lectures and symposiums offered by named professors. Records are particularly extensive for the Henry P. Luce Professorship in Cosmology which between 1973-1983.brought astronomer Fred Hoyle, biogeologist Preston Cloud, physicists Norman Ramsay, Dennis W. Sciama and Robert R. Wilson, and other noted scientists to the College to give lectures on aspects of the nature of the universe.

Faculty Show Records (1903-2010) document a popular tradition at Mount Holyoke established in 1903 by which faculty as well as staff members periodically present students with an original theatrical entertainment. Faculty Shows from the mid-1940s through 1976 were particularly elaborate productions, while those produced in more recent years have been on a more modest scale. The records consist of scripts, correspondence, reports, programs, financial records, tickets, schedules, songs, music scores, questionnaires, sketches, lists, announcements, articles, press release, photographs, slides, video recordings, and a DVD. These materials concern all aspects of the planning, authorship, funding and production of faculty shows and include many photographs of these events.


  • Creation: 1896 - 2019

Conditions Governing Access

Faculty Meeting Minutes, Committee Records, Correspondence, and American Association of University Professors, Mount Holyoke College Chapter Records are restricted to use by Mount Holyoke College faculty for 25 years from the date of record creation. Access to all other records in the collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

Teachers at Mount Holyoke began specializing in particular subjects in the late 1880s and they by the 1890s they were required to earn a Ph.D. in their respective fields. By 1896, faculty members were organized into a formal group which held regular meetings and actively shaped the College's curriculum. According to the By-Laws of the Mount Holyoke Board of Trustees, members of the faculty (subject to the reserve power of control of the Board) are responsible for conducting the ”educational work” of the College. They establish admission requirements, prescribe courses of study for students, regulate conditions for graduation and kinds of degrees or certificates which are awarded, and recommend candidates for undergraduate and honorary degrees to the Board of Trustees. Faculty members have also been responsible for providing “the necessary structural organization for the conduct of student non-academic life and activities,” especially in relation to the academic program of the College. Since the 1970s, faculty have been involved in such matters as supporting Mount Holyoke’s efforts to creating a diverse community and helping College administrators develop policies concerning a variety of social issues. Much of the work of the faculty takes place in committees created to consider particular topics or issues or supervise categories of students. In addition, faculty members direct the activities of the Mount Holyoke Chapter of the American Association of University Professors and periodically join staff to present students with an original theatrical entertainment known as Faculty Show.


68.54 Linear Feet (169 boxes (2 shelved in Folio))

Language of Materials



Records dating from 1896 to 2011 consist of handbooks, minutes and agenda, reports, constitutions and by-laws, policy statements, statistics, correspondence, memoranda, speeches, subject files, surveys, questionnaires, financial information, plans, recommendations, programs, lists, scripts, schedules, songs, music scores, sketches, menus, publications, press releases, announcements, tickets, notes, biographical sketches, audiocassettes, photographs, slides, compact discs, video recordings, and a DVD, and photographs primarily documenting the work of faculty members as those responsible for developing and regulating the academic program at Mount Holyoke College. These materials also include information about policies and benefits relating to faculty members, records of the College chapter of the American Association of University Professors, materials relating to named professorships at Mount Holyoke, and records concerning the tradition of Faculty Show.

Related Archives Materials

Electronic records dating from 2011 November-2012 Spring May have been processed and accessioned as

Born digital materials

two folders were accessioned:

Physical Description

169 boxes(68.54 linear ft.)

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