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Board of Trustees Correspondence

Identifier: BC01-06

Collection Scope and Content Summary

The Barnard College Board of Trustees Correspondence consists of letters to and from board members, administrators, students, New York City and State officials, and influential citizens. The correspondence ranges from handwritten post cards, handwritten letters, typed personal communications, typed official circulars, and published open letters. The correspondence discusses policy decisions, operational, curricular, and administrative matters. This collection also includes a Program of Exercises ofthe tablet erected to the memory of Pearl Mary-Teresa Craigie in 1909.

Larger administrative topics discussed include the incorporation of the College along with its provisional and absolute charter, the College’s physical expansion and financing, the creation and allocation of student scholarships, major administrative appointments, policies for faculty hiring and contracts, and college entrance and curricular requirements. The records document key moments in the College’s physical expansion.

Of note is a series of letters documenting the search for the Barnard College Dean in 1900. Included is a list of possible candidates.


  • Creation: 1883 - 1977



This collection has no restrictions.

Reproduction Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes.

Publication Rights

Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Barnard College Archives and Special Collections. The Barnard College Archives and Special Collections approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Historical Note

The first Barnard College Board of Trustees, established in 1889, was made up of many veteran advocates of women’s education. These include Silas B. Brownell and Annie Nathan Meyer, each of whom were centrally involved in the 1883 and 1888 petitions to the Columbia Board of Trustees for the establishment of an affiliated institution of higher learning for women in New York City. The Board’s first presiding officials were the Rev. Arthur Brooks as Chair, Mrs. Joseph H. Choate as Vice-Chair, Jacob Schiff as Treasurer, and Hamilton Mabie as Secretary. These Board officers were succeeded by Abram S. Hewitt, Mrs. A.A. Anderson, George A. Plimpton, and Frederick Waite. Other prominent members of the first Barnard College Board of Trustees included Mrs. Francis B. Arnold, who would play an important role in the College’s development as the Chair of the Building Committee. Most notable was Miss Ella Weed, who would serve as the College’s first Dean before the title officially existed.

The Barnard College Board of Trustees oversees the College's financial, administrative, and curricular maters. The structure of the Board changed minimally during the College’s early years. Board members were initially appointed for life in accordance with the College’s charter and had broad responsibility for major administrative appointments and policy decisions. Initially, associate member positions to the Board were created in order to foster greater support for the College’s expansion. In 1898, alumnae member positions were added. The first alumnae appointed to such a position was Florence Colgate, who later earned permanent board membership. Other than this change, it was not until 1945, when the trustees voted to place seven-year term limits for all positions, that any changes were made. In 1950 the charter was amended to grant a “lifetime trustee” membership to Annie Nathan Meyer, a founder of the College, who had served on the Board since its inception.


1.04 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 1 half document box)




The collection consists of correspondence between Board of Trustees members, administrators, students, New York City and New York State officials, and influential citizens. Topics covered include administrative matters, fund raising, curriculum, faculty issues, Barnard operations, student life, and Barnard College’s founding and continuing operation.

Collection Arrangement

Letters are placed in chronological order and divided among folders corresponding to fiscal academic years from July 1st to June 31st.

Physical Location

This collection is located in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard Library. To use this collection, please contact the Barnard Archives and Special Collections at 212.854.4079 or

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Barnard College Board of Trustees.


No additions are expected.

Processing History

This collection was processed and the finding aid written by Archives Intern Natalia Sucre in August, 2010.

This finding aid was updated by Heather Lember in January, 2014.

Descriptive Rules Used: Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard.

Encoding: Machine readable finding aid encoded in EAD 2002.

Finding aid written in English.

Guide to the Board of Trustees Correspondence Collection
Heather Lember
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections Repository

3009 Broadway
New York NY 10027 United States