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Records of the Radcliffe College Admissions Office, 1869-1979


Records of the Radcliffe College Admissions Office, including annual reports; materials pertaining to the Harvard Examinations for Women; admission examination samples; applicant information cards; and admission committee’s ratings on applicants to the class of 1966.


  • 1869-1979

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Except for Series 2 and 3b, records are closed for 50 years from the date of creation except with the permission of the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Student records are closed for 80 years from the time of separation. Records must be screened by archivist before research use. Appointment may be required. Contact public services.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Radcliffe College Admissions Office 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.


30.44 linear feet (73 file boxes)

Admissions Office records include annual reports; materials pertaining to the Harvard Examinations for Women; admission examination samples; applicant information cards; and admission committee's ratings on applicants to the class of 1966. Committee on Admissions records (1893-1913) consist of two volumes containing information on candidates from other colleges.


For most of Radcliffe's history, students were admitted by the college's own admission committee. Since 1975 because of the recommendation of the Strauch Committee, students have been admitted to Radcliffe and Harvard colleges by the joint H/R Admissions Office located in Byerly Hall. At that time, an equal access policy was initiated which removed the limit to the number of women admitted to Harvard/Radcliffe. Until ca. 1969 the size of a Radcliffe class was held by quota at 300. It increased in 1972 to 450, in 1976 to 550 and in 1982 to 654.

Admission to Radcliffe has always been by examination (see Series 2 for history of the Harvard Examinations for Women). Special or non-degree students have been admitted, since the founding of the college, by recommendation, and allowed to enroll in ordinary courses without credit.

Admissions were handled by the Secretary of the Annex (Arthur Gilman, whose correspondence with students is found in the Massachusetts Historical Society), by a committee of Harvard Professors, and the Secretary of the College. Radcliffe's Admissions Office was founded in 1934 and existed separately until 1975 when it merged with the Harvard Admissions Office.

See also Annual Reports of Radcliffe College, report of the Secretary or Dean, 1880-1933, report of the Committee of Admissions, 1934- RG V A, Dean of the College (for annual reports of the office, 1961-73); RG V B, Office of Women's Education (for Transfer student study); RG V C Forum (for study of older women undergraduates).


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series 1. Office files, annual reports, 1963, 1972-74. 3 file boxes.
  2. Series 2. Harvard examinations for women and earlier experiments in women's education at Harvard, 1869-1909. 2 file boxes.
  3. Series 3. Admission exams: results, 1886-1936, 1954-57. 1 carton, 19 file boxes. Disposed of, 2006.
  4. Series 3b. Samples of admission exams. 1 file box.
  5. Series 4. Informational record cards on applicants (including admits, rejects, transfers). 1891-98, 1944-79. 61 file boxes.
  6. Series 5. Rating cards, Dean Williston's research project, 1966. 6 file boxes.

Physical Location

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

Processing Information

Processed: July 1983

By: Jane S. Knowles

Radcliffe College. Admissions Office. Records of the Radcliffe College Admissions Office, 1869-1979: 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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