Mount Holyoke Journal Letters, 1843-[1891]

Mount Holyoke Journal Memoranda, 1862-1877


Chronological Inventory of Journal Letters 
Chronological Inventory of Journal Memoranda 
Index to Journalists 
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Introduction and Notes

Journal Letters, sometimes referred to in early sources as "the Seminary Journals," provide significant documentation of Mount Holyoke's early history. A succession of teachers served as writers ("journalists") responsible for recounting events at the Seminary, including notes about teachers, students, visitors, gifts, and a wide range of miscellany. The object was to reinforce the ties to the Seminary of distant alumnae and former teachers. Lucy Lyon, Class of 1840, began the Journal Letters for Fidelia Fiske, Class of 1842, teacher at the Seminary 1842-43, who left her teaching post to go as a missionary to Persia under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The mailing list was gradually extended to include all alumnae in foreign mission service and in the U.S., with members of the Seminary community assuming the duties of copyists. By 1848, eighteen copies were needed to supply those abroad. Handwritten copies gave way to privately printed letters in September 1875. 

The College Archives' set of Journal Letters, 1843-[1891] consists of original letters and copies in thirteen "Journal Notebooks." Typed transcripts are available for the earliest letters, 1843 through Mar. 9, 1849. The archival set is not quite complete. Lacking are letters for the following dates: 

  • Aug. 1849 - Sept.1850
  • Apr. 19 - Nov. 17, 1858
  • June - Aug. 1859
  • Jan. 31 - Sept. 25, 1861

Journal Memoranda (8 notebooks) cover the period 1862-1877 and serve as a supplement to the Journal Letters. They appear to be a kind of diary in which events were recorded for later incorporation into the finished Journal Letters. If this was the intent, the College Archives' collection is only a partial one, and many of these notebooks have not survived.  Notebook VI includes news clippings dated 1856, 1862, 1863, and 1868 that provide insight into popular perceptions of Mount Holyoke.  Journal Memoranda have not been transcribed.  They are also available on microfilm.
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