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RG II, Series 4

Bunting-Smith, Mary Ingraham, 1910-1998. Records of Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1960-1972: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: RG II, Series 4
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1910-1998
Title: Records of Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, 1960-1972
Date(s): 1960-1972
Quantity: 23 linear feet (55 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Official Radcliffe College correspondence, reports, minutes, etc., of Mary Bunting-Smith, professor and fifth president of Radcliffe College.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1993
By: Helen Gilbert, May Cheever, Barbara Kravitz, Jane S. Knowles

Access Restrictions:

Access. Records are closed for 50 years from 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. Some folders (#105, 223, 287, 711) marked closed in the inventory are an exception to the rules. Material removed from folders 62, 69, 85, 90, 95, 97, 99, 106, 121, 127, 129, 132, 216, 237, 243, 251, 304, 338, 364, 365, 369, 378, 393, 450, 454, 494, 504, 516, 565, 568, 578, 590, 626, 636, 640, 650, 661, 676, 677, 678, 701, 703, 713, 724, 739, 768, 773, 776a, 843 is closed for 80 years. Appointment may be required. Contact public services.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records of Radcliffe College President Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. 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.

Preferred Citation:

Mary Ingraham Bunting Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1960-1972; item description, dates. RG II, Series 4, folder #. Radcliffe College Archives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Related Materials

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith Papers, 1926-2002 (MC 564 ).


Mary Ingraham Bunting-Smith, geneticist and fifth president of Radcliffe, 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, Bunting-Smith 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) during which period Helen Gilbert was Acting President.
President Bunting introduced many new programs and radically changed the structure of Radcliffe during her presidency. In 1961 she formed the Radcliffe Institute (now Bunting Institute), a research center for post-graduate women to help reverse what she called the "climate of unexpectation for women." Among its first one hundred and eighty-eight fellows (1961-1971), seventy-six went on to college teaching or administration in fifty-six different institutions. Two years later she closed the Radcliffe Graduate School and the Harvard/Radcliffe Program in Business Administration when the Harvard Graduate School and Business School opened their doors to women. She created a new residential house system for undergraduates, 1961-1962, by grouping the dormitories into North, South, and East (later Currier House.)
In 1967 Bunting-Smith launched a capital campaign, a Program for Radcliffe which successfully raised ten million by 1970 to renovate the Quad houses, construct Currier House, renovate the old college library for the Bunting Institute and the Schlesinger Library, and expand financial aid.
The period from 1967 to 1970 saw escalating student protests against the Vietnam war. Radcliffe students were involved in protesting against recruiting by the Dow Chemical Co. (October 25, 1967). They participated in a sit-in at Paine Hall (December 12, 1968) demanding an end to Reserve Officer Training at Harvard (ROTC), the occupation of University Hall (April 9, 1969), a noisy sit-in in President Bunting's office in Fay House to protest the punishment meted out to Radcliffe women after the Paine Hall incident, and a university-wide strike. Other protests included a hunger strike for off-campus living (Spring, 1968) and a confrontation over Black admissions (Fall, 1968). Students joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to stop Harvard's expansion into low-income neighborhoods and to advocate an Afro-American Studies Department. Others joined Bread and Roses an off-campus women's liberation organization.
President Bunting was sympathetic to the need to increase the numbers of Black students and raised the minimum number of admits to thirty in 1969. She also believed that merger with Harvard was the only strategy for solving the serious inequities for women students in housing, financial aid, access to tutors, and in recreational facilities. The majority of the students were pressing for co-residence (the creation of co-residential houses) and President Pusey was unwilling to consider co-residence without merger of college offices relating to students. Alumnae were suspicious of the merger and their negative reactions led in 1971 to an agreement between Harvard and Radcliffe known as the "non-merger merger" instead of the corporate merging of the two institutions. The Harvard and Radcliffe houses became co-residential and were operated by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). The President of Radcliffe was made a member of the FAS and Council of Deans, the Radcliffe Dean's Office was closed and the Radcliffe Administrative Board merged with Harvard's. Radcliffe administered its own ("retained") programs including the Career Services, Bunting Institute, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Seminars, Alumnae Office and, until 1975, Admissions and Financial Aid Offices. Administration of the college library, student life, athletics, dance and other extra-curricular programs and some business operations (payroll, accounting, dining halls, and buildings and grounds) were transferred to Harvard. All tuition and income from endowment were transferred to Harvard except for income restricted to the retained programs. These arrangements were essentially confirmed by the new agreement of 1977.
Following her retirement from Radcliffe, Bunting-Smith served as an adviser to the president of Princeton for coeducation. She returned to Cambridge to marry Dr. Clement Smith and after his death in 1988 moved to New Hampshire.
Bunting-Smith was named Woman of the Year in 1960 and received honorary degrees from Wheaton, Smith, Douglass, Goucher, and Radcliffe Colleges and the Western College for Women, as well as the University of Wisconsin, Princeton, Yale, Northeastern, Tufts, and Harvard Universities.


This collection consists of the official correspondence, reports, and memoranda of the president's office, 1959-1972, and is arranged alphabetically by academic year. The materials document the innovative programs and restructuring of Radcliffe carried out by President Bunting. Included are enthusiastic letters in response to the creation of the Radcliffe Institute from alumnae and members of the general public. Correspondence with Harvard documents the opening of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Business School to women (1963), the award of the Harvard degree to women (1963), and the progress of merger negotiations, 1969-1972. Alumnae reaction to merger, which was largely negative, is also well documented in letters and memoranda.
Fundraising reports and correspondence follow the progress of the Program for Radcliffe, the capital campaign 1967-1970, which aimed to raise thirty million and succeeded in raising ten million dollars. The records of disciplinary committees, including the Harvard Committee of Fifteen, chart the course of student protest, 1967-1970. Also included are annual reports of many Radcliffe programs, comparative admissions statistics for the Seven Colleges, and papers concerning the transformation of student government from Student Government Association (SGA) to Radcliffe Government Association (RGA), to Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS).
There are speeches and scientific papers written by Bunting-Smith and correspondence relating to Bunting-Smith's service on the AEC and the President's Commission on the Status of Women.



Index of major correspondents and topics. Offices and programs at Radcliffe are filed under their most recent names.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

College presidents
Women scientists--United States
Bingham, Mary Caperton, 1904-1995
Bok, Derek Curtis
Bok, Sissela
Bruce, Ailsa Mellon, 1901-1969
Bundy, McGeorge
Cabot, Thomas D. (Thomas Dudley), 1897-1995
Comstock, Ada Louise
Daniels, Mabel W. (Mabel Wheeler), 1878-1971
Graham, Katharine, 1917-2001
Harvard University
Hilles, Susan Morse
Hobby, Oveta Culp, 1901-1995
Horner, Matina
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
Lasker, Mary Woodward
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow, 1906-2001
Murray, Pauli, 1910-1985
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Park, Maud Wood, 1871-1955
Pusey, Nathan M. (Nathan Marsh), 1907-2001
Radcliffe College--Administration
Radcliffe College--Admission
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
Radcliffe College--Endowments
Radcliffe College--Funds and scholarships
Radcliffe College. Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute
Radcliffe College--Presidents
Reston, James, 1909-1995
Richardson, Elliot L., 1920-1999
Rockefeller, David, 1915-
Rockefeller, Laurence
Schlesinger, Arthur M. (Arthur Meier), 1888-1965
Travers, P. L. (Pamela Lyndon), 1899-1996
Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim.