Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Mount Holyoke College seal
Religion Department Records, 1894-
( linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 18.33 (LD 7092.8)

Abstract:
The Mount Holyoke College Religion Department Records consist of articles; sketches; lists; newspaper clippings; press releases; statements; announcements; memoranda; questionnaires; reports; minutes; correspondence; financial records; notes; examinations; syllabi; programs; brochures; and photographs.

Terms of Access and Use:

Records restricted to use by office/department of origin for 25 years from date of record creation.

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Historical Note

Mary Lyon founded the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1837 with a strong Protestant tradition. At this time, weekly lessons in the Bible were given by various teaches of other subjects at the Seminary, including Mary Lyon herself. This tradition continued until 1894 when instructors with advanced degrees in religion were brought to Mount Holyoke College. At this time, the Department of Biblical History and Literature was founded, and each student at the College was required to partake in a year of study in the department. In the 1927/1928 academic year, the department was renamed the Department of the History and Literature of Religion, and remained so named until the 1951/1952 academic year when it became simply the Religion Department. In 1915, a course in comparative religions was introduced into the curriculum, which formerly only included the study of Christianity. In 1918, the department's emphasis was placed on the social teachings of the Bible. In 1930, the mandatory one year study of religion was dropped, and the Department of the History and Literature of Religion became one of four departments in the social sciences group, of which study in three departments was required. By 1937, the centennial anniversary of Mount Holyoke, the Bible had maintained its status as the central subject in the department. Courses had become distinctly cultural, and the aim of the department was to prepare students for "intelligent Christian citizenship" and to create a foundation for academic teaching, religious education, and various forms of Christian social service. Course topics at this time included the history and literature of the Bible, primitive religions, religious education, the history of Christian thought, current religious problems and beliefs, and the history of Christian worship. Within the next eleven years, courses began to be designed to show the relationships between religion and many other human interests. By 1948, courses pertaining to Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity (including Catholicism and Protestantism), cult religions, religious thought, and the philosophy of religion had appeared. The department curriculum was still heavily focused on Christianity. In 1959, the Religion Department was considered nonsectarian; however, the department still placed a great emphasis on Christianity, while considering developing more emphasis on Judaism. A significant shift away from Christianity occurred in 1970, although the department still maintained Christianity as a central focus. Currently, the Religion Department consists of four areas of study, each of which is required for the major in Religion, including Biblical Studies; Ethics, Philosophy, and Theology; Nonwestern Traditions; and History.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mount Holyoke College Religion Department Records consist of articles; sketches; lists; newspaper clippings; press releases; statements; announcements; memoranda; questionnaires; reports; minutes; correspondence; financial records; notes; examinations; syllabi; programs; brochures; and photographs. The annual reports of the department to the President of the College are held in the records. These reports contain information regarding enrollment trends; faculty activities including research and publications; visiting lecturers; curriculum changes; personnel changes; prizes offered; trends in students' approaches to religion and the study of religion; occupations and jobs of department graduates; department majors; religious activities on campus; the department budget; facilities and equipment; and the needs of the department. An article about the department written by Anna C. Edwards (Class of 1859) and Professor Laura H. Wild can be found in the records in addition to sketches written about the department and its history. Lists of major students and the types of jobs held by graduates of the department are also included, as are newspaper clippings pertaining to department trips and events and activities of students in the department. An article about the study of religion and the war effort, written during World War II, is also held in the records. Information pertaining to the general examination, major requirements, and scholarships in the department is included in the collection. Memoranda about the Religion Club can also be found in the records. Course records held in the collection include lecture notes, syllabi, and general, major, entrance, comprehensive, and individual course examinations, along with lists of questions appearing on the general examinations. Department meeting minutes include topics such as needs of the department, the department budget, general examinations, honor students, course and curriculum content, and prizes offered. The correspondence included in the records mainly pertains to recommendations for students, open positions in the department, entrance examinations, comprehensive examinations, courses, and graduate study. The correspondence is chiefly between department faculty, staff, and students and those desiring positions as faculty or students. Advertisements found in the records pertain to plays, art exhibits, and lectures sponsored by the department. The photographs depict student participants in the play "The Story of the Prophet Isaiah" and faculty and students in classroom scenes and in the department lounge.


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

Records restricted to use by office/department of origin for 25 years from date of record creation.

Preferred Citation

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

Religion Department 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

Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm
URL: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/
Language
English


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