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COLLECTION Identifier: SC 99

Records of Radcliffe College President Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, 1879-1978


Correspondence, speeches, reports, etc., of Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, first president of Radcliffe College.


  • Creation: 1879-1978


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


2 linear feet (2 cartons)

The records of Radcliffe College President Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz includes incoming correspondence, drafts of outgoing letters, speeches, reports, commencement addresses, a trunk box, and other papers by and about Agassiz. The papers document the Harvard-Radcliffe relationship, Radcliffe's incorporation (1894), the alumnae revolt protesting the denial of the Harvard degree to Radcliffe students, and negotiations over the award of the PhD at Radcliffe. There is information about bequests to the college, and fundraising campaigns. The papers were collected by Lucy Allen Paton, Agassiz's biographer, and some were published in Paton's biography The Life of Elizabeth Cary Agassiz (Boston, 1919).


Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, educator and college president, was born in Boston, December 5, 1822, and married the Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz in 1850. She was an educational reformer, member of the Woman's Education Association, but never an advocate of women's suffrage or of co-education. Agassiz administered the Agassiz School for Girls from 1855 to 1863. She was one of the managers of the program for the Private Collegiate Instruction for Women (also known as the Harvard Annex); was president of the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women (1882-1894), first president of Radcliffe 1894-1900, and then honorary president, 1900-1903.

Agassiz guided the college through its early years. She negotiated the permanent institutional tie with Harvard and the incorporation of Radcliffe College in 1894 as a degree-granting agency. Her addresses at "parlor meetings" elicited substantial support for the college and made possible the purchase of properties bordering on Brattle, Mason, Garden, Streets and Appian Way which eventually formed the Radcliffe Yard, and the Phillips and Bemis estate on Concord Avenue which was laid out by her nephew Guy Lowell as the dormitory quadrangle. The funds for Agassiz House were raised largely by the Agassiz family as an eightieth birthday tribute in 1902, and became the student center and third permanent building in the Yard.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: R87-32

This collection was received from Bay Bank Harvard Trust Company and deposited in the Radcliffe College Archives on loan in August 1978.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Papers, 1884-1959 (SC 4); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Papers, 1838-1920 (A-3); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Papers, 1859-1879 (A/A262); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Letter, 1898 March 30 (A/A262a); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Letters, 1891, 1907 (A/A262b); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Letters, undated (A/A262c); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Letter, 1868 October 21 (A/A262d); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Postcards, 1905-1908 (A/A262e); Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz Letter, undated (A/A262f).

Container List

  1. Carton 1: 1-40
  2. Carton 2: 41m

Processing Information

Processed: November 1987

By: Jane S. Knowles

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907. Records of Radcliffe College President Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, 1879-1978: A Finding Aid
Radcliffe College Archives, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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