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Benjamin Fletcher Wright Papers, 1949-1969
17 boxes (4.65 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 32

Abstract:
Fifth President of Smith College, Professor of Government. Contains official records of the Office of the President, correspondence, speeches, legal documents, press releases, minutes, memoranda, reports, and newspaper articles.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the College Archives with one exception. Materials regarding the Board of Counselors (Box 8) are permanently closed. Permission to view those materials can be granted only by the President of Smith College.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Smith College owns the copyright to all the material generated by the Office of the President and other offices on campus. Permission to publish or quote from the documents must be obtained from the Smith College Archives.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Benjamin Fletcher Wright, president of Smith College 1949-1959, was born February 8, 1900, in Austin, Texas. He was the son of Benjamin F. and Mary (Blanford) Wright. His lifelong interest in political science, especially government, became evident early in life with his fascination for Thomas Jefferson in grammar school. He followed that passion through the University of Texas, where he earned his BA and MA degrees in 1921 and to Harvard, where, in 1925, he earned his Ph.D.

He was a member of the University of Texas faculty from 1922 to 1926. In 1926, he married Alexa Rhea, and they had two children: David and Janet (Mrs. Paul E. Jones Jr.). Wright taught at Harvard from 1926 until coming to Smith in 1949. While at Harvard, he served as chairman of the Government department and served on the special Harvard Committee on General Education. He was one of the authors of the renowned report published by the Committee titled, "General Education in a Free Society" (1945).

During his decade as the fifth president of Smith College, Wright made notable contributions to the honors program and the interdepartmental majors program. He consistently fought for the value of intellectual and educational freedom in the face of McCarthyism and widespread anti-Communist propaganda. Under his administration, the college's endowment was substantially increased, faculty salaries raised and college plant and facilities enlarged. In 1961, Wright Hall was dedicated in his honor.

After leaving Smith, Wright spent a year as a fellow at the center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science, at Stanford University in California. The following year he returned to the University of Texas as a professor of government where he taught until the year before his death on November 28, 1976.

Wright held honorary degrees from Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, American International College and Pittsburgh University. The following are a selection of his published titles: The Merit System in the American States (1923), Source Book of the American Political Theory (1928), American Interpretations of Natural Law (1942), General Education in a Free Society (with others 1945), Consensus and Continuity 1777-1787 (1958), editor: The Federalist (1961).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Office of the President: Benjamin Wright Papers consist of 4.65 linear feet and are primarily related to his official duty as President of Smith College from 1949-1959. Types of material include correspondence, speeches, legal documents, press releases, minutes, memoranda, reports, and newspaper articles. The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject.

Major subjects found in these papers include issues of Communism and Intellectual Freedom (Committee for Discrimination in Giving, Massachusetts Commission on Communism and U.S. House of Representatives, Un-American Activities Committee); The Four College Cooperation; The Seven College Conferences and Junior Year Abroad.


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

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the College Archives with one exception. Materials regarding the Board of Counselors (Box 8) are permanently closed. Permission to view those materials can be granted only by the President of Smith College.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Smith College owns the copyright to all the material generated by the Office of the President and other offices on campus. Permission to publish or quote from the documents must be obtained from the Smith College Archives.

Preferred Citation

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

Benjamin Fletcher Wright Papers, Box #. Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

These papers were transferred to the College Archives from the Office of the President after Wright left the College in 1959.

Processing Information

Processed by Mariah Leavitt.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives

Language
English.