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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 564

Papers of Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1926-2002 (inclusive), 1960-1978 (bulk)


Biographical material, appointment books, notebooks, speeches, etc., of Mary Ingraham Bunting Smith, geneticist and fifth president of Radcliffe College (1960-1972).


  • Creation: 1926-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-1978


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith 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. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


2.7 linear feet ((6 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 photograph folder)

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1926-2002 (#1.1-2.3), includes several examples of Bunting-Smith's writings, research materials compiled by biographer Elaine Yaffe, and a small amount of personal correspondence.

Subseries A, Writings and notebooks, 1926-1995 (#1.1-1.14), includes several early papers completed by Bunting-Smith while attending the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York, photocopies of a regular column describing local flora and fauna entitled The Countryside, written by Bunting-Smith and her first husband, Charles Bunting, appearing in the The Amity Star newspaper (Bethany, Connecticut), and a report to the President of Barnard College. Also included are an undated typescript entitled Continuing Education, Scholarship, and Service, presumably written by Bunting-Smith while at Radcliffe, as well as a collection of annotated typescript pages interspersed with pages of notes and an annotated copy of American Women, which appears to be part of an unfinished book that Bunting-Smith was working on about her years at Radcliffe. There are also nine small notebooks, originally housed in three-ring binders or in wire-bound notebooks. Notebook pages were numbered sequentially and disbound. Early notebooks (1929-1931 and 1936) contain notations on bird sightings, some with sketches and notations on location, notes on various readings, and, occasionally, personal notes, weekly schedules, etc. Later notebooks contain details of a 1981 trip to England and Ireland (#1.12), commentary on readings and events attended in 1987 (#1.13), and a register of letters sent and telephone calls made between 1989 and 1995, including a description of their content (#1.14). While some entries are of the traditional journal-type, many are not. Materials are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Elaine Yaffe research materials, 1927-1999 (#1.15-2.1) includes a small amount of correspondence between Elaine Yaffe and Bunting-Smith's children and copies of clippings, correspondence, and press releases relating to Bunting-Smith, Henry Bunting, and the Bunting children. Photocopies of original material held by other repositories were discarded.

Subseries C, Personal correspondence, 1975-2002 (#2.2-2.3), consists of a small amount of personal correspondence, most notable of which are several letters regarding her establishment of a no-interest loan fund for students at Douglass College and one letter to James M. Banner, Jr., regarding his acceptance of the position of director of continuing education at Princeton University.

Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1956-1987 (#2.4-7.5), includes datebooks, notebooks, correspondence, agenda, programs, etc., relating to various speaking engagements or meetings, and speeches and speech notes.

Subseries A, Appointments, 1961-1978 (#2.4-3.1), consists of a series of date books spanning Bunting-Smith's time as president of Radcliffe and several years after. Earlier date books (1961-1972) include entries regarding various professional meetings, mainly Radcliffe-related but a few others as well, and some notations of a more personal nature, such as those about vacations or family appointments. Later date books (1973-1978) note various professional meetings, including board meetings of the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, Arthur D. Little Company, TIAA-CREF, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals - Health Plans, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as meetings of a personal nature. Materials are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Engagements, 1973-1987 (#3.2-3.10), consists of correspondence, agendas, programs, reports, etc., all regarding specific events at which Bunting-Smith appeared as a participant, speaker, honoree, advisor, or board member. All materials relate to her activities in her post-Radcliffe years (1973-1987). Engagements include many Radcliffe College and Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study (later Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute) events, as well as programs, events, conferences, etc., sponsored by Douglass College, Princeton University, Vassar College, American Council on Education, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wider Opportunities for Women, Catalyst, Sperry and Hutchinson Company, and Arthur D. Little Company, among others. Many of these documents are annotated by Bunting-Smith. Materials are arranged chronologically by date of engagement.

Subseries C, Speeches, 1956-1987 (#3.11-5.5), consists of speeches and notes for speeches that were arranged chronologically by Bunting-Smith in several three-ring binders. Documents were removed from the binders and foldered, maintaining Bunting-Smith's original order. Many of the speeches and notes contained in this subseries are about general education, women's education, and education administration, given during her tenure at both Douglass and Radcliffe Colleges; standard administrative speeches given at both colleges in staff meetings, at student and parent gatherings, etc., are included as well. Several of the speeches and speech notes deal more specifically with science education and various scientific topics in which Bunting-Smith was interested.

Subseries D, Correspondence, 1966-1979 (#5.6-5.10), consists of correspondence and enclosures relating to Bunting-Smith's post-Radcliffe professional work with various organizations, including Wider Opportunities for Women, Eagleton Institute's Center for American Women and Politics (at Rutgers University), Women's Campaign Fund, Women's Lobby, Women's Equity Action League, and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation's Commission on Physicians for the Future and Conferences on Women in Medicine. Materials are arranged alphabetically by organization.

Subseries E, Notebooks, 1936-1971 (#5.11-7.5), contain information about Bunting-Smith's professional life. Early notebooks (1936-1938) contain notations on courses in genetics, chemistry, embryology, evolution, anthropology, and bacteriology while an instructor at Bennington (#5.11-6.1) and Goucher (#6.2-6.3) Colleges, as well as occasional personal entries. Notebooks for 1964-1965 (#6.4-6.6) contain information regarding Bunting-Smith's work on the United States Atomic Energy Commission, including notes on meetings and visits to various sites. Notebooks for 1966-1971 (#6.7-7.5) contain Bunting-Smith's notes regarding meetings, engagements, etc., during her Radcliffe presidency. Topics include the proposed Radcliffe-Harvard merger, African American students at Radcliffe, scholarships and financial aid, student protests, and the Radcliffe capital campaign launched in 1967, among many other administrative issues. While some entries are of the traditional journal-type, many are not. Material is arranged chronologically.

Series III, Photographs, 1972-1999 (#PD1), contains seven photographs (removed from #1.17 and #3.2), six of Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith's home in Bethany, Connecticut and New Boston, New Hampshire, and one of Bunting-Smith at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Most photographs in this collection will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*]. Additional photographs of Mary Ingraham Bunting Smith are in the Radcliffe College Archives collection in the Schlesinger Library.


Mary (Polly) Ingraham Bunting-Smith, geneticist and fifth president of Radcliffe College, was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 10, 1910, the daughter of Henry A. and Mary (Shotwell) Ingraham. She received her A.B. from Vassar (1931) and her A.M. (1932) and Ph.D (1934) in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. In 1937, Mary Ingraham, known all her life as Polly, married Henry Bunting of the Yale University School of Medicine. They had one daughter and three sons.

Bunting-Smith served as an instructor at Bennington College (1936-1937) and Goucher College (1937-1938), as research assistant (1938-1940) and lecturer on microbiology (1948-1955) at Yale, and lecturer on botany at Wellesley College (1946-1947). After her husband's death in 1954, she became dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University and professor of bacteriology (1955-1959). She was president of Radcliffe College and lecturer on biology at Harvard (1960-1972). She took a leave to serve on the United States Atomic Energy Commission (1964-1965). She also served as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (1961-1963), the National Science Board of the National Advisory Commission on Health Manpower, the Commission on Non-Traditional Study (1971-1973), the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary's Advisory Committee on the Rights and Responsibilities of Women (1973-1974). For further details regarding Bunting-Smith's tenure as president of Radcliffe College (1960-1972), please see: Records of Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1960-1972 (RG II, Series 4).

Following her retirement from Radcliffe, Bunting served as an advisor for coeducation to the president of Princeton University. She was also on the boards of the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, Arthur D. Little Company, New England Electric System, TIAA-CREF, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals - Health Plans, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and Council for Financial Aid to Education (now Council for Aid to Education), as well as a trustee of the Population Council and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She remained deeply involved with Douglass College, Radcliffe College, and Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College, and served on several advisory committees, including Wider Opportunities for Women, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and the American Council for Education. She returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to marry Dr. Clement Smith in 1979, and, after his death in 1988, moved to Hanover, New Hampshire.

She was named "Outstanding Woman of the Year" in the field of education by Who's Who in 1960 and received honorary degrees from several women's colleges, including Wheaton, Smith, Douglass, Goucher, and Radcliffe, and the Western College for Women, as well as from many universities: Wisconsin, Princeton, Yale, Northeastern, Tufts, Southeastern Massachusetts (now University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth) and Harvard.

Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith died January 21, 1998. Her ashes were interred at Clement Smith's (former) farmhouse in Peacham, Vermont which is still in the possession of the Bunting family.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1926- 2002 (#1.1-2.3)
  2. ___Subseries A. Writings and notebooks, 1926-1995 (#1.1-1.14)
  3. ___Subseries B. Elaine Yaffe research materials, 1927-1999 (#1.15-2.1)
  4. ___Subseries C. Personal correspondence, 1975-2002 (#2.2-2.3)
  5. Series II. Professional, 1956-1987 (#2.4-7.5)
  6. ___Subseries A. Appointments, 1961-1978 (#2.4-3.1)
  7. ___Subseries B. Engagements, 1973-1987 (#3.2-3.10)
  8. ___Subseries C. Speeches, 1956-1987 (#3.11-5.5)
  9. ___Subseries D. Correspondence, 1966-1979 (#5.6-5.10)
  10. ___Subseries E. Notebooks, 1936-1971 (#5.11-7.5)
  11. Series III. Photographs, 1972- 1999 (#PD 1)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 84-M173, 2003-M26, 2008-M12

The papers of Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith were given to the Schlesinger Library by her son, Charles Bunting in 2008. Additional items were given by her in 1984, by James M. Banner, Jr. in 2003, and by Sally Lunt in 2005.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1960-1972 (RG II, Series 4).


Donor: Mary Ingraham Bunting Smith

Accession numbers: 84-M173, 2003-M26, 2008-M12

Processed by: Mark Vassar

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. Physicians for the Future: Report of the Macy Commission, 1976; The Biomedical Sciences - 1975: Report of a Macy Conference; The Biomedical Sciences - 1975: Report of a Macy Conference, and Old Age: Its Liabilities and its Assets, A Psychobiological Discourse; donated to the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School in 1984.
  2. A newsletter, form letter, and program from the New Jersey Women's Equity Action League, 1972; donated to Rutgers University in 1984.
  3. Material re: Wingspread Conference, American Council on Education; moved to Schlesinger Library Collection B/A512c
  4. Material re: Harvard-Radcliffe merger, the Gordon Scholarship Fund, Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study, annual reports, Class of 1972 degree awards, and Bunting-Smith's resignation; moved to Radcliffe College Archives, RG II, Series 4.

Processing Information

Processed: April 2008

By: Mark Vassar

Bunting-Smith, Mary Ingraham, 1910-1998. Papers of Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1926-2002 (inclusive), 1960-1978 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from Ethel and David Jackson.

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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