Department of English Records
Scope and Contents
The Department of English records contain materials describing the history and work of the department. Types of materials include course syllabi, correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, photographs, exams, handbooks, and assorted typescripts and fliers. Meeting minutes from 1912 to 1920 and 1941 to 1979 provide a look at the administration of the department, while the scope of the academic material can be discovered through the numerous syllabi.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1880 - 2001
- Smith College. Dept. of English. (Organization)
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.
Board of Trustees' records are closed permanently.
Minutes of the Faculty Council are closed to all except current Smith College Faculty for a period of 75 years following their creation. 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 first professor of English at Smith was L. Clark Seelye, who was also the college's first President. The third President, William Neilson was also an English professor. Seelye's early curriculum emphasized elocution and foreign languages as tools for better understanding English. His dual responsibilities as professor and President led him to share teaching duties with Heloise Hersey in 1878. In its early days, the English department had trouble attracting and keeping a full staff, and as a result was quite transitory and disorganized. Many instructors were young women who taught only a few years before resigning their positions to get married. The most prominent and influential English professor was Mary Augusta Jordan, who taught from 1884 to 1921. Kate Sanborn (1880-83) was also well-known. Early areas of study in the department included Rhetoric, Old English, Composition, and Literature, and writing requirements tried to guarantee that every student be able to competently express herself in written English. In 1893, student demands for a college magazine resulted in the creation of the Smith College Monthly. Beginning in 1904, the faculty adopted an official course of study that required students to write four long papers, one each year. This requirement continued, despite students' unhappiness, until 1916, when the college adopted the major-minor system, with distributed electives and no yearly papers. The Committee on Special Assistance in Written English was created in 1921 to provide one-on-one instruction to those students deficient in writing. The professors believed that "no girl should be able to graduate from Smith without the ability to write a clear, grammatical English sentence, properly punctuated and spelled." In the 1930s, course offerings were divided into Composition, Language, Literature, and Types; in the 1940s, areas were consolidated into two sections: Language and Literature, and Composition. In the 1950s English 11 became a requirement for first-year students. Important professors during these years include Mary Ellen Chase (1926-54) and Elizabeth Drew (1946-61). The school year 1970-71 brought the introduction of the ENG 120 course, composed of various colloquia in literature. In 1975-76 course offerings were rearranged into 100 level (introductory classes), 200 level (intermediate classes), and 300 level (advanced seminars). In 1996-97 a college-wide requirement was instituted, requiring that every student take a writing intensive course within her first year. Many English courses (especially 120 colloquia) were subsequently designated as fulfilling the "writing intensive" requirement. September 1997 marked the opening of the Poetry Center, which brings many prominent poets to campus each year to give readings.
8.667 linear feet (13 containers)
Language of Materials
The Department of English records contain materials describing the history and work of the department. Types of materials include course syllabi, correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, photographs, handbooks, and assorted typescripts and fliers. Meeting minutes provide a look at the administration of the department, while the scope of the academic material can be discovered through the numerous syllabi.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Most records transferred from the Department of English. Some materials are from other sources.
Processed by Christina Lehman.
Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.
- Finding aid to the Department of English Records
- Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
- Christina Lehman
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2005-09-23: manosca106 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
- 2018-11-15: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey
Part of the Smith College Archives Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063