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COLLECTION Identifier: A/I72a

Letter of Agnes Irwin, 19 January 1895


Letter from Agnes Irwin, first dean of Radcliffe College, to a Miss Pickering.


  • 1895


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. This letter of Agnes Irwin is in the public domain.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1 folder

Collection consists of a handwritten letter (on Radcliffe College letterhead) from Agnes Irwin to a Miss Pickering, regretting that she cannot join Miss Pickering and her guest Mrs. Draper for dinner, due to being committed to attending a "long tea" at the College Club in Boston. She explains that she is the host of the event and as such must remain for its duration.


Agnes Irwin was born in Washington, DC, in 1841, the daughter of William Wallace Irwin and Sophia Arabella Bache Irwin, and a great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin. Her father was a United States congressman. In 1869, Irwin became headmistress of the newly established West Penn Square Seminary for Young Ladies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school, which was originally run out of her home, was one of the first in the United States to focus entirely on education for girls. In 1875 it was renamed Miss Irwin's of Philadelphia, and later renamed the Agnes Irwin School. In 1894 Irwin was appointed the first dean of Radcliffe College, with her sister Sophy Dallas Irwin replacing her as headmistress of the school. While at Radcliffe, Irwin played an active role in Helen Keller's education. She remained dean until 1909 and from 1911 to 1914 she served as the first president of the Headmistresses' Association of Private School. She died in 1914.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This letter of Agnes Irwin was purchased by the Schlesinger Library from Paul C. Richards in 1967.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Agnes Irwin Letter, 19 January 1875 (A/I72a).

Processing Information

Updated and additional description added: January 2022

By: Susan Earle with assistance from Erin LaBove

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library and Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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