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Roswell Gray Ham Records, 1937-1957
5 (2.25 linear ft.)
Collection number: 4.14 (7082.3)

Personal and professional documents concerning Roswell G. Ham include correspondence from 1937-1981.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Historical Note

Roswell G. Ham was born in 1891, in LeMoore, CA. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, he served in World War I before obtaining his PhD in English from Yale, in 1925. He taught there until 1937, when he was controversially appointed the first male President of Mount Holyoke. Continuous development of the physical and financial assets of the College was a feature of his presidency. Some of the new buildings erected were the remodeling of the 1897 chapel into the Charles Clinton Abbey Memorial Chapel (1938); a sports complex, Kendall Hall (1950); Newcombe Cleveland Hall and Carr Laboratory (1955); and Gorse Child Study Center (1953). In addition, the endowment, student fees and the value of the physical plant doubled and enrollment increased by 25%. Ham was a staunch advocate of close cooperation with other colleges. In 1951, Mount Holyoke, Smith College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts launched a cooperative effort to establish an Inter-Library Center. This was later instrumental in the founding of Hampshire College and ultimately evolved into Five Colleges, Inc., one of the most successful consortiums in the country. During Ham's tenure, internship programs were established and interdepartmental courses were added to the curriculum. The latter were the forerunners to the interdepartmental majors and minors currently offered to students. Ham retired in 1957 and a dormitory, Ham Hall, was named for him in 1965. He died in 1983.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Personal and professional documents concerning Roswell G. Ham include correspondence from 1937-1981; articles, addresses and speeches dated 1937-1957; biographical material consisting of news clippings (particularly of his eldest son, Roswell G. Ham, Jr.); inauguration programs, etc.; extensive documentation of the Presidential controversy (1936-1937) comprising letters, news releases, clippings, articles, petitions from alumnae to the President of the Trustees Alva Morrison, questionnaires, etc; obituaries, tributes and memorials; photographs; and card files of Ham's correspondence. Included is an FBI folder on Ham's sponsorship of the American Spanish Aid Committee, American Rescue Ship Missions, etc. Ham's correspondence mainly deals with invitations to Commencement speakers and includes correspondence with alumnae and letters granting honorary Mount Holyoke degrees. Material concerning the Presidential controversy includes letters to Ham, among them correspondence from alumnae who opposed or supported his appointment.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
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Preferred Citation

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

Office of the President, Roswell Gray Ham Records, 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

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