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Jeannette Marks and Mary Woolley correspondence

Identifier: MS 0865

Scope and Contents

The Jeannette Augustus Marks and Mary Emma Woolley Papers contain correspondence between Marks and Woolley, including letters when they were traveling apart from each other, notes when they were living together, greeting cards, postcards, newspaper clippings, telegrams, memos, and forwarded mail from other correspondents.


  • Creation: 1898-1947

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Biographical / Historical

Mary Emma Woolley, college professor and President of Mount Holyoke College from 1901-1937, was born on July 13, 1863 in South Norwalk, Connecticut to Joseph Judah Woolley, a Congregational minister, and Mary August Ferris Woolley, a schoolteacher. She attended Mrs. Fannie Augur's school in Meriden, Connecticut until her family moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1871, when she enrolled in Providence High School. In 1882 she began attending Wheaton Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts, graduating in 1884 and serving as a faculty member there from 1885-1890. She entered Brown University in the fall of 1891 as the first woman to attend the university. She received her A.B. in 1894 and her A.M. in 1895. She served as an instructor, associate professor and professor at Wellesley College from 1895-1899, teaching for and acting as chairman of the Biblical History and Literature Department. During this period, Woolley formed what would be a life-long partnership with Jeannette Augusta Marks, then a student at Wellesley. In 1900, Woolley accepted the position as President of Mount Holyoke College and took office in May of 1901. Her achievements include hiring more faculty with advanced degrees, introducing honors work into the curriculum, expanding the graduate program, successfully raising funds for the College, establishing an academic honors program, eliminating secret student societies, increasing the physical education requirement, ending the student domestic work system, and easing Mount Holyoke's religious exclusiveness. She was an active member of many organizations, serving as the first woman senator of Phi Beta Kappa (1907), chairman of the College Entrance Examination Board (1924-1927), President of the American Association of University Women (1927-1933), and moderator of the Congregational Churches of America (1937). She served as a member of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America Educational Commission to China, which studied Christian higher education in that country (1921) and she participated in several major conferences, including the Institute of Pacific Relations conventions (1925 and 1927). In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed her to serve as the only woman delegate from the United States to the Conference on Reduction and Limitation of Armaments held in Geneva, Switzerland. She retired as President of Mount Holyoke in 1937 after a divisive controversy over the selection of her successor. She lived in Jeannette Marks' family home in Westport, New York and remained active, organizing the Committee on the Participation of Women in Post-War Policy during World War II, joining the National Woman's Party, and endorsing the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1944, Woolley suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that left her partially paralyzed. She died on September 5, 1947 in Westport at the age of eighty-four.

Jeannette Augustus Marks was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 16, 1875. Her father, William Dennis Marks met and married her mother, Jeannette Colwell, while running a factory in Tennessee. He later went on to become professor of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Philadelphia Edison Company. Jeannette Marks was educated at boarding schools in the United States and Europe and went on to attend Dana Hall and then Wellesley College where she received her B.A. in 1900. It was here that Marks met Mary Emma Woolley, then a Wellesley professor, who was to remain her life partner for the next fifty years. Soon after her inauguration as president of Mount Holyoke, Woolley appointed Marks instructor in the English Department, which she would eventually chair. While at the college, Marks founded the Play and Poetry Shop Talks lecture series inviting notable authors and poets to Mount Holyoke to discuss modern literature. She also started the Laboratory Theatre in 1928, which would become her primary focus at the college until her retirement in 1941. Marks began writing short stories while a student at Wellesley and continued to publish throughout her career. Most notable among her writings were "The Family of the Barretts", a biography of the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and "The Life and Letters of Mary Emma Woolley". She also conducted a great deal of research on narcotics and published several books pertaining to drug addiction. After her retirement in 1941, she moved permanently to her childhood home, Fleur De Lys, on Lake Champlain in New York with Mary Woolley. Marks died on March 15, 1964 in Westport, New York at the age of 88 after suffering from multiple strokes.


15.01 Linear Feet (34 full Hollinger and 4 half Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



Marks, Jeannette Augustus, 1875-1964; author and college professor. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1901-1941. Woolley, Mary Emma, 1863-1947; college professor and administrator. President of Mount Holyoke College, 1901-1937. Papers contain correspondence, primarily describing their daily lives, work, and travel.

Processing Information

Finding aid by Megan Haaga, 2015.

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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