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RG II, Series 1

Briggs, Le Baron Russell, 1855-1934. Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1903-1925: A Finding Aid

Radcliffe College Archives, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
The Patty Trustman Gelfman Collection on the History of Radcliffe College


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
July 2007

© 2007 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: RG II, Series 1
Repository: Radcliffe College Archives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Lebaron Russell Briggs, 1855-1934
Title: Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1903-1925
Abstract: Official Radcliffe College correspondence of Le Baron Russell Briggs, professor and second president of Radcliffe College.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: June 1987
By: May Bryant Cheever '41

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Preferred citation for publication:

Lebaron Russell Briggs Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1903-1925; item description, dates. RG II, Series 1, folder #. Radcliffe College Archives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


LeBaron Russell Briggs, professor, dean, and college president, was the son of George Ware Briggs, a Unitarian minister, and his second wife, Jane Russell Briggs. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts on December 11, 1855. He grew up in Cambridge and was educated at Harvard, receiving his A. B. in 1875 and A. M. in 1882. He served at Harvard as tutor in Greek, 1878-1881, instructor in English, 1883-1885, assistant professor, later professor English, 1885-1904, and Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, 1904-1925. He was Dean of Harvard College, 1891-1902, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 1902-1925, and Chairman of the Committee on Athletic Sports.
LBRB was one of the first Harvard professors who, at the request of President Charles W. Eliot in 1897, agreed to teach at the newly organized program for the collegiate instruction of women by Harvard professors (later Radcliffe College). He was second president of Radcliffe College, 1903-1923, succeeding Elizabeth Cary Agassiz.
Admired by generations of students for his kindness and benevolent guidance, LBRB had a profound influence on his students who placed him among the very great teachers of English and the classics: "the shrewd genius who created creators," said his biographer Rollo Brown. He was not considered a scholar. His publications included a collection of speeches, School, College and Character (1901), essays on women, Girls and Education (1911) and collections of charades, The Sphinx Garrulous (1929), and Pegasus Perplexing (1931).
He was appointed president of Radcliffe with the blessing of outgoing President Agassiz and President Eliot who believed he would maintain good relations between Harvard and Radcliffe. In the eyes of William Alan Neilson, president of Smith College, he "made Radcliffe respectable."
Among his accomplishments as president of Radcliffe was the growth of the student body from 458 in 1903 to 753 in 1923, the increased geographical diversity of students (the number of students drawn from outside of Massachusetts rose from 19% in 1903 to 33% in 1923), the increased ethnic and racial diversity, and the admission of women to the Ph.D program in medical sciences in the Harvard Medical School 1916-1917.
LBRB, while not a supporter of co-education at Harvard, believed in Radcliffe as a "Harvard College for women" and fought valiantly with President Lowell to maintain the equivalence of the Harvard/Radcliffe degree and the close ties between the two institutions. He firmly supported women's education as long as women were not taught to compete with men. Radcliffe College, he wrote "should maintain a college life of its own, independent of the college life at Harvard, but its intellectual standards must remain those of (Harvard) of which in fact if not in name, it forms a significant part."
LBRB contributed to Radcliffe's physical growth and stability. Under his guidance the college grew from what he described as a "few backyards and an undersized apple tree" to a permanent institution. The Greenleaf estate was purchased in 1905, Agassiz House was constructed as a student center in 1905, and the library opened in 1908. New dormitories were added to the dormitory quadrangle: Eliot Hall, 1907, Edmands house, 1910, Whitman, 1912, Barnard, 1913 and Briggs, 1923. The Endowment Fund (1923) brought salaries of Harvard faculty who taught at Radcliffe up to equality with other Harvard salaries, and the Library Endowment Fund was completed by gifts from alumnae. LBRB also succeeded in establishing the Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1914.
LBRB married Mary De Quedville in September 1883, a student in his English course and a magna cum laude graduate of Radcliffe (A. B. 1901 as of 1884). Their children were: John De Quedville, Harvard 1906, Lucia Russell, Radcliffe 1909, president of Milwaukee Downer College, and LeBaron Russell, Jr., Harvard 1916. LBRB received an honorary LLD from Harvard in 1900.


The papers consist of the incoming correspondence of the President's office, 1903-1925, and carbon copies of the president's outgoing correspondence in indexed bound volumes, 1909-1925. Among correspondents are: Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, Charles William Eliot, Abbot Lawrence Lowell, Radcliffe deans: Agnes Irwin, Mary Coes, Bertha May Boody, Christina Hopkinson Baker and Marion Edwards Park, and the Radcliffe Associates (Trustees). Major subjects include: the day-to-day governance of the college, Harvard/Radcliffe relations, the teaching relationship with Harvard faculty, Harvard faculty salaries, course offerings, admissions, financial aid, policies regarding the residence of Afro-American students in Radcliffe dormitories and other Afro-American student issues, the debate over the quota for Jewish students at Harvard and the admission of women to the Harvard Medical School. Letters also discuss fundraising, Radcliffe property, and the construction of dormitories. The letters reveal LBRB's concerned guidance of the young college in its relationship with Harvard.
These papers are arranged in two subseries:
Letters reveal much of the day-to-day administration of Radcliffe; since Briggs spent only a portion of his time at Radcliffe, he received a good many letters from his deputies.



Added entries

Addams, Jane 1860-1935
Agassiz, Elizabeth (Cary) 1822-1907
Alexander, John White 1856-1915
Allen, Annie Ware (Winsor) 1865-1955
Associates, Radcliffe College
Baker, Christina (Hopkinson) 1873-1959
Baker, Ezra Henry
Baker, George Pierce 1866-1935
Barnard, Samuel
Beaux, Cecilia 1855-1942
Beale, Joseph Henry 1861-1943
Benesch, Alfred Abraham
Boody, Bertha May 1877-1943
Brandegee, Mary Katharine Layne Curran, 1844-1920
Briggs, Elizabeth 1863-1937
Briggs, LeBaron Russell 1855-1934
Broun, Heywood 1888-1939
Buckingham, Harriet Dean
Byerly, William Elwood 1849-1935
Cabot Ella (Lyman) 1866-1934
Cabot, Frederick Pickering 1868-1932
Cary, Emma Forbes 1833-1918
Carnegie Foundation
Clemenceau, Georges 1841-1929
Coes, Mary 1861-1913
Collard, Martha Fiske
Comstock, Ada Louise 1876-1973
Coolidge, Archibald Cary 1866-1928
Copeland, Charles Townsend 1860-1952
Council-Radcliffe College
Cronkhite, Bernice Veazey (Brown) 1893-1983
Dana, Richard Henry 1851-1931
Daniels, Mabel Wheeler 1879-1971
Davison, Archibald Thompson 1883-1961
Dean, Sarah Maria
Dean, Vera (Micheles) 1903-1972
Deland, Margaret 1857-1945
Dewson, Mary Williams 1874-1962
Eliot, Abigail Adams 1892-
Eliot, Charles William 1834-1926
Eliot, Martha May 1891-1978
Farley, Caroline Amelia 1847-1912?
Farlow, Lilian (Horsford)
Faust-Newton, Mary Cosette 1892-1975
Finley, John Huston 1863-1940
Fish, Frederick Perry 1855-1930
Fisher, Katharine (Dummer) 1892-1961
Forty Seven Club
Gallison, Marie (Reuter) 1861-
Gardner, Isabella (Stewart) 1840-1924
George, Julia
Gilman, Arthur 1837-1919
Gilman, Stella (Scott) 1850?-1928
Goldman, Hetty 1881-1972
Goodwin, William Watson 1831-1912
Gray, John Chipman 1839-1915
Greenough, Chester Noyes 1874-1938
Gregory, Lady
Hamilton, Alice 1869-1970
Harvard Annex
Hecht, Lina (Frank)
Higginson, Francis Lee 1841-1925
Higginson, Henry Lee 1834-1919
Higginson, Ida (Agassiz) -1935
Hocking, William Ernest 1873-1966
Holden, Ruth 1890-1917
Holmes, Henry Wyman 1880-1960
Holmes, Oliver Wendell 1841-1935
Hood, Lady
Hoover, Herbert 1874-1964
Hopkinson, Leslie White 1867-
Hoppin, Eliza Mason
Howes, Ethel (Puffer) 1872-1950
Humphrey, Caroline Louise
Hundley, Mary (Gibson) 1898-1986
Hunnewell, Francis Welles 1880-1964
International Federation of University Women
International Peace Forum
Irwin, Agnes 1841-1914
Kagan, Bertha (Oppenheim)
Keller, Helen Adams 1880-1968
Kimball, Clara (Bertram) -1920
Kimball, Marguerite
Kittredge, George Lyman 1860-1941
Lake, Kirsopp 1872-1946
Lane, William Coolidge 1859-
Langer, Susanne (Knauth) 1896-1985
Laski, Harold 1893-1950
League of Women Voters
Lee, Mary 1891-1982
Lippmann, Walter 1889-1974
Lodge, Henry Cabot 1850-1924
Longfellow, Alexander Wadsworth 1854-1934
Longfellow, Alice Mary 1850-1928
Lowell, Abbott Lawrence 1856-1943
Lyman, Susan (Cabot)
Lyon, Mabel Harris -1931
MacCracken, Henry Mitchell 1840-1918
Machado, Grace Elizabeth -1932
Miller, Marian (Blackall) 1887-
Mitchell, Lucy (Sprague) 1878-1967
Moors, John Farwell 1861-1953
Morgan, John Pierpont 1867-1943
Mower, Sarah (Yerxa) 1871-1921
Munsterberg, Hugo 1863-1916
Neilson, William Allan 1869-1946
Norton, Charles Eliot 1827-1908
Park, Marion Edwards 1875-1960
Paton, Lucy Allen 1865-1951
Pendleton, Ellen Fitz 1864-1936
Perry, Ralph Barton 1876-1957
Pound, Roscoe 1870-1964
Putnam, Elizabeth (Cabot) 1836-
Radcliffe Athletic Association
Radcliffe Club of Boston
Richards, Theodore William 1868-1928
Roxbury House
Sargent, Charles Sprague 1841-1927
Sherman, Mildred 1898-1961
Sherman, Rose 1872-1952
Stebbins, Lucy Ward 1881
Switzer, Mary Elizabeth 1900-1971
Tarbell, Ida Minerva 1857-1944
Tolstoy, Count Leo
Ullian, Frieda (Silbert) 1900-1982
Vanderbilt, Cornelius 1873-1942
Wambaugh, Sarah 1882-1956
Washington, Booker Talaferro 1859-1915
Webster, Kenneth Grant Tremayne 1871-1942
Wendell, Barrett 1855-1921
Whitman, Sarah (Wyman) 1842-1904
Williams, Dr. Augusta
Wolbach, Anna (Wellington) 1883-1969
Women's Educational and Industrial Union
Woolley, Mary Emma 1863-1943
World Peace Foundation
Admissions-Radcliffe College
Agassiz House
Astor, Viscountess (Nancy Witcher Langhorne) -1964
Barnard Hall
Bertram Hall
Browne and Nichols School
Bureau of Occupations
Catholic Club
Craig Prize
Curie, Marie (Sklodowska) 1867-1934
Eliot Hall
English courses
Greenleaf House
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School-Admission of women
Harvard/Radcliffe relationship
James, Henry 1843-1916
Jonathan Fay Prize
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Phi Beta Kappa, Iota Chapter
Poetry Club
Radcliffe College-Administration
Radcliffe College-Deans
Radcliffe College-Presidents
Radcliffe College-Property and possessions
Radcliffe Farm
Radcliffe Quarterly
Russia, Pre-revolution
Socialist Club
Stowe, Harriet (Beecher) 1811-1898
Student life and customs
Students, Jewish
Whitman Hall
Women's education
Women's suffrage
World War, 1914-1918-war work

Other Descriptive Data

INDEX: Index to LBRB's correspondence, alphabetically arranged by name, subject or title of organization.

SUBJECT INDEX: Outgoing correspondence of President LeBaron Briggs, 1909-1925

A simplified form of subject index has been adopted, omitting routine items such as applications for teaching positions and thank you notes. The purpose of this index is to emphasize events relating to the history of Radcliffe and the history of women.
N.B. To look up an event or subject in the incoming letters (not included in this list), first check the subject index below. Then note the recipient's name and the date of the out-going letter. Finally, refer to the incoming letters under the appropriate name and date. As noted above, the incoming letters are arranged by academic year and thereunder alphabetically by name of correspondent.