Five College Archives and Manuscript
Mount Holyoke College seal
Nutting Papers, 1850-1910.
4 boxes (2 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0572 (LD 7092.8 Nutting)

Nutting, Mary Olivia, 1831-1910; Librarian. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary graduate, 1852. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary staff member, 1870-1901. Papers consist of correspondence, account books, diaries, books written by Nutting, a notebook, and photographs. Primarily documenting her daily activities as a student at Mount Holyoke and her plans for Peterson's Lodge faculty apartment house.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Mary Olivia Nutting was born on July 1, 1831 in Randloph Center, Vermont to William and Mary Barrett Nutting. She attended Orange County Grammar School and in 1850 entered Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. After graduating in 1852 she taught at schools in Ohio, including Oxford Female Seminary. She was appointed as Mount Holyoke's first librarian in 1870 and held that position until her retirement in 1901. She also acted as the Treasurer's representative and collected money for the school. Between 1866-1902 Nutting wrote four books for young adults, some of them published under a pen name of Mary Barrett. She wrote a historical sketch about Mount Holyoke (1876) and provided information for Sarah D. Locke Stow's "History of Mount Holyoke Seminary" (1887). She also wrote articles that were published in magazines and Sunday school books. After her retirement she devoted much of her time to encouraging Mount Holyoke to build Peterson Lodge, an apartment house for retired faculty. She died on February 13, 1910 in South Hadley, Massachusetts at the age of seventy-nine.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mary Olivia Nutting Papers consist of correspondence, account books, writings, diaries, a notebook, Treasurer's representative records, documents concerning Peterson Lodge, memorabilia, Nutting family material, biographical information, and photographs. Most of the papers relate to her activities as a student, librarian, Treasurer's representative, and retired faculty member at Mount Holyoke College. Of note are transcripts of twenty-one letters that she wrote to her father and brother during her years as a student, 1850-1852. She discusses her academic, religious, and social life; daily schedule and domestic work; calisthenics; the school's food, library, and mail delivery system; the Seminary Building and its furnishings; and the Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1850. She also makes frequent references to her health and to that of others, describing the deaths of two students, Sophia Allen (who for a time was buried in the enclosure around Mary Lyon's grave) and Abbie Nims. In a letter to Sarah D. Locke Stowe (June 12, 1874) she comments on the activities of Ellen P. Bowers, Lucy J. Holmes, Lydia W. Shattuck, and other faculty members. She also discusses aspects of the curriculum, including a growing enthusiasm for the study of zoology and the effect of Mount Holyoke's new library on the teaching of literature. A September 27, 1897 letter that she wrote as a representative of the faculty thanks A. Lyman Williston and his wife, Sarah Stoddard Williston, for their help with rebuilding the College following a fire that destroyed the Seminary Building in September 1896. In a May 2, 1902 letter one of her Mount Holyoke classmates, Julia M. Bartlett, expresses her regret about not being able to attend a reunion and reminisces about "the Mary Nutting I knew." Correspondence also includes a May 22, 1903 letter and tribute from Susan B. Anthony that accompanied a book sent to the College library in memory of Mary Perkins, of Mary Lyon's pupils at Ipswich Female Seminary. Other correspondence and some receipts for tuition relate to Nutting's work as Treasurer's representative. Letters to and from Edward Smith of Enfield, Massachusetts, 1885-1886, discuss his efforts to raise money for the school's education fund and his payment of the tuition for two students, Nellie Frances Cobleigh Chapin and Elizabeth Crowther. Smith's letters also include recollections of Mary Lyon. Nutting's account books, 1859-1906, record her income (including her salary as Mount Holyoke's librarian) and her expenses for clothing, books, travel, and supplies. They also contain accounts for her charitable contributions to support church and missionary work and for the use of soldiers, freedmen, and "Union refugees" during the United States Civil War, 1861-1865. Her diaries provide brief descriptions of her daily activities in 1870 and between 1880-1889 and 1891-1892. Her writings include published books and articles as well as several versions of a talk that she gave in 1902 about "Student and Social Life at Mount Holyoke Fifty years ago." A notebook contains notes taken at Bible study sessions held at Mount Holyoke between 1871-1886. Peterson Lodge information dates from 1901-1908 and consists of plans for the home for retired teaches; letters by Nutting, President Mary Emma Woolley, and trustees Judson Smith, Charles A. Young, and Mary Gage Peterson; and drawings of the building, including an architectural drawing, "First Floor Plan" prepared by architect George P.B. Alderman. Rounding out the collection are notes, an invitation, and other memorabilia dating from 1874-1909, newspaper articles about Nutting and various family members, circa 1880s-1910, and photographs. The photographs date from circa 1870s-1910 and include formal portraits of Nutting and a cyanotype of her with several other women, probably Mount Holyoke teachers.

This collection is organized into eleven series:

  • Correspondence
  • Account Books
  • Writings
  • Diaries
  • Notebooks
  • Treasurer's Representative Records
  • Documents Concerning Peterson Lodge
  • Memorabilia
  • Nutting Family Material
  • Biographical Information
  • Photographs

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:


Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Mary Olivia Nutting Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.

History of the Collection

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

Email Reference Form:
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Lyon, Mary 1797-1849.
  • Nutting family.
  • Nutting, Mary Olivia, 1831-1910.
  • Bible study and teaching(Higher) - Massachusetts.
  • Callisthenics.
  • Death.
  • Food.
  • Librarians - Massachusetts.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Faculty - Housing.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Faculty.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Finance.
  • Mount Holyoke College - History.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Library.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Peterson Lodge.
  • Mount Holyoke College - Recollections.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Curricula.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Domestic work.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Religious life - 1850-1852.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Schedules.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Student life - 1850-1852.
  • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary - Students.
  • Seminary Building (South Hadley, Mass. : Town).
  • Student activities - Massachusetts - South Hadley.
  • Women - Charitable contributions.
  • Women - Health and hygiene - United States.
  • Women - United States - Economic conditions.
  • Women college students - Massachusetts.
  • aThanksgiving Day - 1850.

Genre terms
  • Account books
  • Architectual drawings.
  • Diaries.
  • Letters.
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs.

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