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Association of Collegiate Alumnae records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00325

Scope and Contents

The records of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae include announcements, registers, copies of the A.C.A. Journal (1918), a scrapbook, and committee, financial, and branch reports. The records also contain correspondence relating to living wage of college women and accompanying investigations, including letters to Ellen Richards and to internationalist and pacifist Fannie Fern Andrews. Pamphlets of special interest concern the medical education of women, college entrance requirements, history of the A.C.A., Domestic Reform League, comparative statistics on colleges, university extension programs, alumnae gifts, athletics for women, wages of working women, school lunch programs, and a bibliography on higher education of women.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1882 - 1921


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

In 1882 Marion Talbot, Alice Freeman Palmer, Alice Hayes, Ellen Swallow Richards, and thirteen other women met in Boston to establish the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA), uniting college graduates for "practical educational work." Members of the first generation of college-educated women, they had struggled to get an education only to find that society had no place for them and no interest in utilizing their abilities. Through the new organization (ACA), they hoped to promote and raise standards for women's higher education. To distinguish themselves from normal-school and academy graduates, they limited membership to alumnae of specified, carefully selected four-year colleges and universities. Additionally, they expected the ACA to help end the social isolation often faced by women college graduates when they returned home. Women in other regions responded enthusiastically and set up ACA branches across the country. Founded in 1901, the Southern Association of College Women (SACW) served a similar community. In 1921 the ACA and the SACW merged, forming the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Although the ACA, the SACW, and later the AAUW were committed to equal access to education, they avoided identification as explicitly feminist organizations. Until the 1970s, AAUW leaders rejected controversial and potentially divisive issues like suffrage and the Equal Rights Amendment.

During its first fifty years, the ACA studied a variety of issues related to women's education. Its members addressed the status of women within the academy by lobbying for women to serve as college trustees, fought discrimination on coeducational campuses, and argued for inclusion in the curriculum of home economics courses designed to make homemaking more professional and scientific. Additionally, the ACA provided fellowships for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral study, and encouraged women's careers, particularly in the social sciences. Activities of regional branches and local groups of the ACA varied. The internationalism of the war years carried over into the 1920s, when the AAUW joined similar organizations from eight other countries to promote women's education around the world and to create an international community of college women through the International Federation of College Women.


2.396 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



The Association of Collegiate Alumnae was formed in Boston in 1882 to unite women graduates of four-year colleges and universities around issues including standards of academic programs, isolation following the college experience, living wage for college alumnae and concerns about their place in the academy. These records contain reports, correspondence, announcements, publications, registers, and a scrapbook on topics relating to the education of women in the late 19th century, medical education of women, athletics for women wages of working women, and school lunch programs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown. Some of the materials belonged to Nina Browne (first College Archivist) and may have come from her, or may have come with the Ellen Richards Papers.

Association of Collegiate Alumnae records
Finding Aid
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 (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: 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