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Board of Trustees records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 03


Board of Trustees Records date from 1836 to the present and document all aspects of Mount Holyoke's operation including financial affairs, admissions practices, regulations for students, the employment and promotion of faculty and staff, improvements to buildings and grounds, and the selection of Board members. Materials are arranged in three groups: Records (1836-present) which primarily consist of correspondence, minutes, by-laws, meeting files, workbooks, and chronological and subject files; Biographical Files (circa 1836-present) containing articles, sketches, resumes, correspondence, genealogies, press releases, and photographs relating to individuals who have served as members of the Board; and records (1929-1998) of a number of individual committees responsible for carrying out particular activities or functions of the Board. Some Board minutes and meeting files are in electronic format and each group of records is described by a separate online finding aid.


  • Creation: circa 1836 to 2011

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted to use by Members of the Board of Trustees for 50 years from date of record creation except for published By-laws, which are open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical/Historical note

Members of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees are responsible for overseeing the institution's finances, admissions policies, academic affairs, student life, development, and physical plant. Board members also play a role in the selection of the presidents of the College and honorary degree recipients. The Trustees have diverse backgrounds and are primarily drawn from academia, human services, the government, and the corporate world.

The Board was established in 1836 and originally consisted of several "benevolent gentlemen" who helped Mary Lyon plan a school of higher education for women. The founding Trustees included: John Todd (who served as the first president of the Board), William Tyler, David Choate, Joseph Condit, William Bowdoin, Roswell Hawks, Edward Hitchcock, Andrew W. Porter, Joseph Avery, Herbert Humphrey, and Samuel Williston. These original Trustees helped provide Mary Lyon with administrative and financial support in the fledgling years of her school. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, as the school was originally called when it opened its doors in November 1837, was established as property of the Trustees and was intended as a not-for-profit venture.

The first woman trustee, Sarah Williston, was appointed to the Board in 1884. Mount Holyoke principals and presidents have also been members of the Board since that year. The presidency of Elizabeth Storrs Mead (1890 - 1900) furthered the involvement of Mount Holyoke presidents in the activities of the Board of Trustees. This laid the groundwork for the expansion of the college under the presidency of Mary Woolley (1900 - 1937). With support from the Trustees, Woolley oversaw the construction of sixteen new buildings on campus during her tenure.

In 1937, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Mount Holyoke College's first male president, Roswell G. Ham. The decision was controversial among students, alumnae, faculty, staff, and even the Trustees themselves.

Alumnae began serving on the Board of Trustees in 1892 and the practice of adding a Young Alumnae Trustee to the Board began in 1970. An advisory group of former Trustees, called the Trustee Fellows, was established by the Board in 1988.


81.426 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Arranged in three series. 1. Records; 2. Biographical Files; 3: Committee Records

Accruals note

Accruals are received on an annual basis from the Office of the Board of Trustees.

General note

This collection contains electronic records.

RG 03
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