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Headmistresses Association of the East records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00369

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Headmistresses Association of the East consist of 10 linear feet of correspondence, financial records, proceedings, membership applications, memoranda, and reports. They span the years 1910 to 1983, and provide a good record of the activities of the association as well as insight into the educational and social philosophy of private education in America.

The most informative material is contained is the first three series. There were several by-laws issues regarding a name change to allow headmasters of girls' schools to become active members (the name of the organization remained the same, but the word "head" was substituted in the by-laws). The minutes, agenda, and proceedings contain a complete record of the private and public activities of the HMAE. Among the most important committee activities were the establishment of academic standards for member schools and professional standards for their faculty (especially salary guidelines). In addition the Academic Standards Committee in 1934 requested members to state their educational philosophy. The resulting set of essays, "The Educational Faith That I Hold," provides an interesting historical look at some individual educational philosophies. Through its Irwin Memorial Fund and its Relief of Unemployed Teachers Committee the organization helped needy members, especially in the years before Social Security and school-sponsored retirement programs.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1910 - 1999


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use with following restrictions on access: At the direction of the donor, the Board of Directors minutes and the membership applications are closed for 40 years from the date of creation.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the records of the Headmistresses Association of the East. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

The Headmistresses Association of the East (HMAE) was founded in 1911 by a group of headmistresses of schools in the Boston, New York, and Philadelphia areas. Agnes Irwin, dean of Radcliffe College, was the first president, serving until her death in 1914. Membership is open to the heads of girls and co-educational schools in New England and in other states on the Atlantic seaboard. The purposes of the organization are "to provide an opportunity for the furtherance of mutual acquaintance among heads of secondary or elementary schools...for the interchange of ideas of common interest or looking toward the advancement of standards...[and to provide] assistance to any head or teacher, active or retired."


8.354 linear feet (21 containers)


Professional organization. The purpose of this organization was to provide an opportunity for the furtherance of mutual acquaintance among heads of secondary or elementary schools for the exchange of ideas and advancement of standards. The collection provides insight into the educational and social philosophy of private education in America. Materials include correspondence, proceedings, membership applications, memoranda, and reports.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Organization
  2. II. Meetings
  3. III. Committees and Officers
  4. IV. Membership


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Headmistress Association of the East, 1990 and 1996.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 1991.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 1996-S-0061, Box 1 renumbered as Box 21

Headmistresses Association of the East records
Finding Aid
Susan Boone
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss136 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:11-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063