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Since 1837, there has been much emphasis on the study of science at Mount Holyoke College. When Mary Lyon first opened the Seminary, she mandated a curriculum that included the study of seven sciences: physiology, botany, physics, zoology, chemistry, astronomy, and geology. All students studied each of these seven sciences. As early as 1844, the study of physiology at the Seminary flourished when Professor Edward Hitchcock, a colleague of Mary Lyon from Amherst College, brought a mannequin to the Seminary and gave lectures on human anatomy and physiology to the entire school. In the 1861/1862 academic year, Mount Holyoke's tradition of having the resident physician teach physiology was continued with the introduction of the Seminary's first permanent physician, Mary A. B. Homer, MD. At this time, Dr. Homer was one of the few instructors at the Seminary who specialized in one subject. After an extensive debate over propriety, a female mannequin was acquired by Mount Holyoke for use in the study of human anatomy and physiology. This mannequin first appeared in the course catalogue in 1879/1880. In the early twentieth century, Professor Cornelia Clapp was inspired to see the future of physiology at the College as an expanding field. She believe that the College should teach comparative anatomy and physiology with a laboratory approach. Because it was impossible for the College physician to teach in this manner due to her medical responsibilities at the College, Clapp arranged for the Zoology Department to adopt the Physiology Department in 1904. In 1904/1905, Clapp and Abby Howe Turner, a former student of Clapp's, gave a course in comparative anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on physiological laboratory work. This course was offered until the 1911/1912 academic year. At this time, a one year survey course in physiology was developed and offered to all students. This was later divided into two separate courses, and more courses in physiology were added to the department. In 1922, the department split into a Zoology Department and a Physiology Department. In 1928, the first major students in physiology graduated, having taken courses in either zoology or chemistry to supplement the courses offered in the Physiology Department. In this year the first graduate degree in physiology was also awarded. By the 1931/1932 academic year, a complete major program in physiology had been established. This program lasted until the 1964/1965 academic year when the Physiology Department, the Botany Department, and the Zoology Department merged to form a new Biological Sciences Department.
The Mount Holyoke College Physiology Department Records consist of brochures; programs; outlines; articles; memoranda; lists; reports; correspondence; drawings; examinations; manuals; press releases; and photographs. The records contain information about conferences and lectures and other special events in the department, including plans for the Centennial Celebration exhibit in 1937 and other exhibits. Also contained in the records is information regarding subjects covered in undergraduate physiology courses, courses given by the department, and major curriculum. Memoranda pertaining to occupations for women in the study of physiology at the time of Word War II is held in the records. Articles contained in the records include "Episodes in the History of Physiology at Mount Holyoke" by Abby Howe Turner and a published article about physiology programs in American women's colleges. The annual reports of the department to the President of the College are also included in the records, and these contain information pertaining to enrollment trends, courses in the department, faculty publications, faculty and graduate research, conferences, facilities and equipment, lectures, alumnae occupations and activities, aims of the department, changes in personnel, texts, examinations, needs of the department, Clapp Laboratory, Masters' thesis topics, honor paper topics, and changes in curriculum. Correspondence is not extensive and pertains mainly to Charlotte Haywood's liver experiments. Correspondence is chiefly between faculty members at Mount Holyoke and faculty members at other institutions. The course records contained in the records consist of drawings, course examinations, Master's examinations, honor examinations, and laboratory manuals. Photographs chiefly depict classroom and laboratory scenes.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Physiology Department Records, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.
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: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm