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Records of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, 1936-1977 (inclusive), 1936-1963 (bulk)


Records of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration document the evolution of a small-scale course into a graduate business administration program.


  • Creation: 1936-1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1936-1963


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Series 2A (cartons 1-21) and folders 36, 55-56, 58, 90-92, 124-125, 148-153, 173- 176, 178, 180- 199, 202-203, 205-207 209-218, 220, 222, 224- 242, 245-254, 256-269, 271-272, 274-278, 280, 282-284, 286-288, 290-292, 294-302, 304-305, 307-308, 310-316, 318-321, 325, 329-330, 338-339, 343, 346, 348-349, 351-352, 355, 357, 361-362, 371, 375, 378, 381, 383, and 385-907 are closed for 80 years from the date of the student or staff member's separation.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

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


45 linear feet (22 cartons, 43 file boxes, 6 half file boxes)

This collection of the records of the Training Course in Personnel Administration (1937-1944), the Management Training Program (1944-1955), and the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration (1955-1963) consists of office files; student field work reports; and publicity material, including printed material. The office files, divided mainly into the first three series, include correspondence, reports on the program, minutes of the meetings of administrative bodies, and student material. There is material on special programs and reports; financial aid and fundraising; recruitment; relations with the Harvard Business School; and alumnae affairs. Series IV includes printed material about the program. Series V consists of correspondence with organizations employing Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration students in field work-- the special feature of the program in which students gained work experience as part of the curriculum-- the organizations' evaluations of the students' work, and students' own reports of their field work. In March 2014, a container list for Series 2A was added as was a folder list for Series 5. The entire collection was screened for student and personnel records.


In its twenty-five year history, the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration evolved from a small-scale course designed primarily to train college personnel administrators to a full-scale graduate business administration program. The program began as an eleven-month "Training Course in Personnel Administration," established in March 1937 under the auspices of the Appointment Bureau and the Radcliffe Graduate School. The Training Course was one of several programs, including the Publishing Procedures Course, which Edith Stedman, Director of the Appointment Bureau, devised during the Depression to prepare Radcliffe students for careers after graduation. The program began small--the first class had only five students--and grew slowly, although in the fall of 1939 the program acquired its own building, the house owned by the College at 69 Brattle Street, renamed the Elizabeth Cabot Putnam House after the first director of the Appointment Bureau. In the beginning, the curriculum of the Training Course concentrated on preparation for work in education although it also included two periods of "field work," during which students worked even in factories. Field work remained an important feature of the program throughout its existence.

Edith Stedman was the first director as well as the founder of the program. She was replaced in 1941 by Anne Hood Harken, who presided over the program during a great change in both its scale and purpose. There was already a feeling that the program was not providing a "sufficiently broad training in the wider aspects of administration and organization." Such feelings were reinforced by the demands of war, which created "an unprecedented number of opportunities for women personnel officers in industry" and government. The war "dictated a major shift of emphasis in the program of the course," and a committee, on which the Harvard Business School was represented, was appointed in 1942 to evaluate the program in the light of these conditions. The Committee recommended that enrollment be enlarged and that the curriculum be revised to "emphasize preparation for work in industrial or governmental organizations, for the duration of the War." Both recommendations were accepted. The size of the class was doubled to thirty students, and the new curriculum included courses "concerned with the administrative problems of industry" taught by members of the faculty of the Harvard Business School which had previously been given only to men. These changes were reflected in the new name adopted by the program in 1944-45. The title "Management Training Program" was meant to "impress both the students and prospective employers with the value of our training for administrative positions outside of personnel or similar departments." At the same time the President and Council of the College authorized further expansion to a class of forty students.

In 1944 Harken was succeeded as Director by T. North Whitehead, who had played an important role in the founding of the program. Ragnhild Roberts became Associate Director, a position which she held until the demise of the program. The revision of the program enforced by the war was permanent, but in the post-war period the program experienced difficulties. By 1951 enrollment had seriously declined, and the finances of the program were threatened by mounting deficits, prompting President Jordan to appoint a committee to decide on the continued feasibility of the program. The committee, chaired by Margaret Earhart Smith, a trustee of the College, reported favorably, but the President and Council of the College voted to discontinue it. At this point the Harvard Business School intervened to save the program. An arrangement was worked out by which the Management Training Program became jointly administered by Radcliffe College and the Harvard Business School. The faculty of the Business School assumed direction of educational policy, and the Business School agreed to take over part of the financial burden of the program. The agreement formalized the already extensive role of the Business School in the program--the faculty of the Business School had always provided most of the instructors in the Management Training Program--and gave it a "guarantee of continuance." Despite the new relationship, because of "the ways of life open to women, their natural interests, together with cultural pressures and expectations," the program offered to women in the Management Training Program remained distinct from the two-year course offered to men in the Business School itself. A second change in the name of the program--it became the "Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration" in 1955-56--reflected the new status of the program and accompanied further changes under the administration of Dudley Meek, who replaced Whitehead in 1955 and continued as Director until his death in 1958. Meek established an Administrative Board and an Advisory Committee of educators and businessmen to oversee the program. Under his direction a faculty committee undertook a significant revision of the curriculum, which went into effect in 1956. The new curriculum was designed to be "broad in scope, stressing the over-all problems of business and administration." It retained the two periods of field work although two years later the fall field work was suspended experimentally. The differences between the Harvard Business School MBA program and the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration continued. The latter remained a one-year program and despite increasing demand did not result in the awarding of a degree.

Although there was some thought of further expansion in the late 1950s, the prosperity of the program was only apparent. Enrollment was kept up only with difficulty, and the faculty of the Business School was becoming skeptical about the value of the program. This coincided with growing support for admission of women to the Business School itself, support shared by many members of the Business School faculty. In 1959 the faculty voted to admit to the second year of the MBA program qualified graduates of the HRPBA. Pressure for full admission increased, from, among others, Mary I. Bunting, the new President of the College. In 1962 George P. Baker, Dean of the Business School, appointed a committee to report on the viability of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration. The committee was directed only to consider the value of the program in itself and not in the light of the prospect of full admission of women to the Business School, but its decision could not help being influenced by this possibility. In the end the committee recommended that the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration be discontinued, a recommendation that met with little opposition. The faculty of the business School accepted the committee's recommendation in December 1962. At the same time it voted to accept women to the full MBA program. The Radcliffe College Council also voted to discontinue the program, "not relishing spending time and money to attract reluctant students to study under professors who had little further interest in a program especially tailored to women's needs and who were prepared to open all regular courses to them."


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series 1. Training Course in Personnel Administration, 1936-1955 (Box 1,1 - Box 2, 25)
  2. Series 2. Management Training Program, 1938-1962 (Box 2, 26 - Box 5, 68)
  3. Series 2A. Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration student folders (Cartons 1-21)
  4. Series 3. Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, 1945-1964 (Box 5, 69 - Box 13, 154a)
  5. Series 4. Publicity, 1940-1977 (Box 13, 155 - Box 15, 172)
  6. Series 5. Field Work, 1940-1963 (Box 16, 173 - Box 49, 907)
  7. Series 6. Photographs. Transferred to the Radcliffe College Archives Photograph Collection (RG XX, Series 1-6, 10-13).

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration were transferred to the Radcliffe College Archives from 1956 to 1977.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Radcliffe College Archives Photograph Collection (RG XX, Series 1-6, 10-13); Records of the Harvard Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, 1958-1997 (SC 138); and Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration Oral History Project Records, 1945-2002 (SC 185).

Processing Information

Processed: March 1982

By: Eric Nils Lindquist

Updated: March 2014

By Susan Earle

Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration. Records of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, 1936-1977 (inclusive), 1936-1963 (bulk): 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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