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Smith College School for Social Work, Office of the Registrar records

Identifier: CA-MS-01211

Scope and Contents

This collection includes documentation of the MSW, PhD, and Continuing Education programs, as well as administrative records of the Office of the Registrar. A significant portion of the collection is made up of student transcripts. Major topics covered are student grades, the conferring of degrees, course planning, curriculum, course evaluations by students, dissertations, admissions, disputes with students, the legal protection of student records (especially under FERPA), academic policies, course and classroom scheduling, and the administration of the Office.

The format of the material include transcripts, correspondence, reports and statistical research documents, handbooks, policy documents, applications to programs, surveys and questionnaires, student papers, planning documents, meeting minutes, faculty CVs and personnel records, budgets, and casebooks. Casebooks are packets that include the syllabus, assignment descriptions, readings, and any other handout for a given course.

Dates of Materials

  • 1918 - 2022


Conditions Governing Access

Materials in the Smith College Archives are open for use, with the following exceptions: "Office Files," files of records created for the use of the administrative unit that created them, are closed to research for a period of 10 years following their creation. Faculty tenure and promotion files, as well as inactive faculty files are closed permanently. Student academic records, student disciplinary records, and all records containing FERPA-covered student information are closed during the lifetime of the student. Student records created 100 years or more ago are assumed to be about deceased students. In all cases, the College Archives will continue to provide public access to materials that were intended to be public at the time of their creation (press releases, publications, etc.)

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. 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. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, 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

The School for Social Work, Office of the Registrar oversees the academic life of MSW, PhD, and Continuing Education students. The Office handles all registration of students for courses, provides transcripts, distributes diplomas, and assists students with a variety of logistical needs on campus. The registrar is also responsible for curriculum planning, course evaluations, and course scheduling.

Founded in 1918, the Smith College School for Social Work grew out of discussions among leading psychologists and mental health professionals over the needs of returning veterans of World War I. In 1918, sixty-three students completed the first summer’s 8-week course work and reported for 6 months of practical training. The students received certificates at the completion of the full course, which were granted by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. The School earned its first accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education in 1919.

In 1924, the Board of Trustees of Smith College decided that the program would offer the degree of Master of Social Science and made it retroactive to the class of 1920.

The 1930s were a time of immense change in the curriculum and structure of the courses. In 1931, the School founded the Program of Continuing Education to make new developments in theory and practice available to practicing social workers. In 1933, Plan A was introduced, consisting of three 8-week summer sessions and two 9-month winter sessions. Then in 1934, a course for supervisors, also known as Plan D, began under the direction of Bertha Capen Reynolds. Plan D was discontinued in 1938. In 1939, the School offered its first multicultural course, “Culture as a Determinant of Behavior,” taught by the social anthropologist Dr. Bronislaw Malinowski from the University of London.

During WWII, the program was again significantly modified. In 1943, the School shortened its 24-month curriculum to 15 months. In 1945, the School started an onsite training institute for supervisors in Army and Navy hospitals. In 1946 with the end of the war, Plans A and B were reinstated, which included a summer session of ten weeks and a winter session of eight and a half months.

In 1948, the Program of Advanced Study was established, directed toward the development of the advanced practitioner, supervisor, and teacher. In 1961, a “third-year sequence” extension was approved by the Board of Trustees. In 1963, this the extension program and the Program of Advanced Study were joined to create a new clinical Doctor of Social Work degree program.

Throughout the 1950s, the School continued to take the lead in the social work community, expanding its program based on the shifting needs of a changing political climate. While the School maintained its commitment to Veterans, the 1950s was marked by an increasing interest in interdisciplinary collaboration, the expansion of research as an area of focus in social work education, expanded social welfare curriculum offerings, and increasing interest in international social work, including the admittance of students from abroad.

In concert with the Civil Rights Movement, the School expanded its commitment to the issue of multicultural practice. Starting in the 1960s, coursework on socio-cultural, economic, and political environments was intensified. In addition, courses were added on group work, clinical social work and families, and issues of sexual orientation.

In 1961, the degree awarded changed from a Master of Social Sciences (MSS) to the Master of Social Work (MSW).

The 1970s were a time of expansion and development for the Continuing Education Program. In 1973, the Program of Continuing Education expanded into a 12-month program offering workshops, courses, and seminars both in Northampton and in other geographic areas. Then in 1978, the Program of Continuing Education began its first advanced training programs leading to certificates in Family Therapy and Group Therapy. These certificate programs consisted of two academic summer experiences of 10 days duration each followed by an 8-month field experience. 1979 saw the graduation of the first class of students from the Group and Family Therapy Certificate Program. In 1980, a third certificate program in Intensive Psychodynamic Individual Treatment for Adults began.

As of 2021, the Office of the Registrar continues to maintain the certificate programs, Continuing Education programs, and the MSW and PhD degree programs. In both the master’s and Ph.D. programs, students and instructional faculty come into residence on Smith’s campus for 10 weeks of coursework over three consecutive summers. Since 1931, the School has also offered a rich, active continuing education program for professionals around the country. The School offers two specialized certificate programs: Advanced Clinical Supervision and End-of-Life Care (co-sponsored with Baystate Health).


334.542 linear feet (334 containers)

Language of Materials



The School for Social Work, Office of the Registrar oversees the academic life of MSW, PhD, and Continuing Education students. This collection includes documentation of the MSW, PhD, and Continuing Education programs, as well as administrative records of the Office of the Registrar. A significant portion of the collection is made up of student transcripts.


The collection is divided into 5 series.


  1. Student records
  2. Syllabi, course planning, course evaluations
  3. Administrative documents
  4. Continuing Education program
  5. Doctoral program

Within series, materials are broken into "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. Accessions are arranged in chronological order, i.e. materials which were recieved by the archive from the Office of the Registrar earlier are located at the beginning of the series.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Office of the Registrar, beginning in 1988.


In 2021 while processing the collection, archivists removed staff personnel records and job searches.

Related Materials

The Office of the Registrar is a close partner of the Office of Field Education, which directs students' academic experience while they are in field placements. Their records can be found in the Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Field Education records (CA-MS-01209).

The Continuing Education program was briefly part of the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, so Continuing Education materials that were transferred to the archive from that department which were mixed in with their office's materials can be found in the Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Alumni Affairs and Development records (CA-MS-01208).

The Office of the Registrar is overseen by the Office of the Dean, whose records are located in the Smith College School for Social Work, Office of the Dean records (CA-MS-01210). This collection includes additional information about faculty and course evaluations.

Processing Information

In 2021, the processing archivist, Madison White, split the Smith College School for Social Work records into several smaller collections, including this collection. Materials that had been received from the Office of the Registrar were grouped together into this collection.

After this collection was created, Sylvia Hickman, Madison White, and Scott Biddle continued processing it. Most material has been left in their original order from their accessions, i.e. groups of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. A small amount of unrestricted materials that were mixed in with student records were moved to their own boxes so they can be easily accessed by researchers. These files are still identified with their original accession number, to make it clear what was in the original accession.

While student records inventories were not imported and are only accessible through their orignial accession inventories, non-student records with existing accession inventories were imported into this finding aid. Accessions that were undescribed received brief overview description. Descriptions were corrected to accurately reflect materials that had been moved to new boxes. The description was then arranged into series to more easily identify what materials fell under particular restrictions. Description was rearranged, but boxes and the materials in them were not, so most materials are in the original order in which we received them from the Registrar.

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. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.

Finding aid to the Smith College School for Social Work, Office of the Registrar records
Enhanced Finding Aid (Completed)
Sylvia Hickman, Scott Biddle, and Madison White
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2021-03-31: Created new collection from School for Social Work records
  • 2022-06-14: Added Accession 2022-A-0065
  • 2022-10-05: Added Accession 2022-A-0093

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063