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RG II, Series 2

Comstock, Ada Louise. Records of Radcliffe College President Ada Louise Comstock, 1923-1943: 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 2
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Ada Louise Comstock
Title: Records of Radcliffe College President Ada Louise Comstock, 1923-1943
Date(s): 1923-1943
Quantity: 27.11 linear feet (64 file boxes, 1 card file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Official Radcliffe College correspondence, reports, memoranda, etc., of Ada Louise Comstock, educator and third president of Radcliffe College.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

This collection was received from the Radcliffe College President's Office ca.1956.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: June 1981
By: Jane S. Knowles

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records of Radcliffe College President Ada Louise Comstock 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:

Ada Louise Comstock Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1923-1943; item description, dates. RG II, Series 2, folder #. Radcliffe College Archives, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Related Material

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Ada Comstock scrapbook, 1934 (SC 26), Ada Comstock papers, 1929-1974 (RA.A/C739), Ada Comstock papers, 1818, 1887-1982 (MC 471; T-156), Ada Comstock diaries, 1902-1968 (M-126).


Radcliffe College printed material and material about alumnae has been removed to the Vertical file of Radcliviana and the alumnae biographical files. Photographs have been removed to the photograph files. Non-Radcliffe publications and duplicate material have been weeded and returned to the relevant institutions.


Ada Louise Comstock, educator, was born and brought up in Moorhead, Minnesota where her father Solomon Comstock, who had moved West from Maine, was an attorney. Comstock was educated first at the University of Minnesota, then transferred to Smith College (AB 1897), received a teacher's certificate from Moorhead State College in 1898, and AM from Columbia in 1899. She was appointed Assistant in Rhetoric, then Dean of Women, 1907-1912, at the University of Minnesota, Dean of Smith College, 1912-1923, and was Radcliffe's first full-time President, 1923-1943. At Radcliffe, Comstock helped to launch the Harvard/Radcliffe agreement for joint instruction in 1943 by which Harvard took full responsibility for educational policy and the education of Radcliffe students, an important step in the institutional advancement of women at Harvard.
Comstock exemplified the active woman citizen of the post-suffrage period in the breadth of her activities. She was the only woman member of President Hoover's Commission of Law Observance and Enforcement, 1929-1931, and signed the minority report which recommended revision of the eighteenth amendment. She was a member of the Institute of Pacific Relations, actively encouraged the development of women's higher education in Japan and China, a member of the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood and the National Broadcasting Company, to name but a few of her associations.
She was a national and international spokesman on education (in recognition of which she received 14 honorary degrees, including those of Harvard and Oxford). She was President of the American Association of University Women, a leader of the Seven College Conference and on the boards of many schools (Buckingham, Concord Academy, Wykeham Rise, Brimmer and May) and colleges (Bennington, Smith, Simmons). On her retirement as Radcliffe's President in 1943, Comstock married Wallace Notestein Professor of English History emeritus, of Yale College, and embarked on a new career as faculty wife, in New Haven.


Papers and correspondence of Comstock, arranged alphabetically by academic year, 1923-1943, with a listing of important correspondents, organizations and subjects.



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

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Seven Colleges Conference
American Association of University Women
American Birth Control League
American Council on Education
American Women's Association
Association to Aid Women in Scientific Research
Bennington College
Boulanger, Nadia
Bryn Mawr College
Bureau of International Research of Harvard University and Radcliffe College
Cabot, Ella Lyman
Cabot, Richard C. (Richard Clarke), 1868-1939
Cannon, Walter B. (Walter Bradford), 1871-1945
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
China Institute
Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978
Daniels, Mabel W. (Mabel Wheeler), 1878-1971
Dean, Vera Micheles, 1903-1972
Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937
Eliot, Martha M. (Martha May), 1891-1978
Flanagan, Hallie, 1890-1969
Follett, Mary Parker, 1868-1933
Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965
Ginling College (Chin-ling nü tzu ta hsüeh)
Harvard Medical School--Admission
Harvard School of Public Health--Admission
Harvard University--Administration
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
Hoover, Lou Henry, 1874-1944
Irwin, Agnes, 1841-1914
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968
Kōbe Jogakuin
Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951
Laski, Harold Joseph, 1893-1950
League of Women Voters (U.S.)
Lowell, A. Lawrence (Abbott Lawrence), 1856-1943
Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925
McBride, Katharine Elizabeth
Milwaukee-Downer College
Morison, Samuel Eliot, 1887-1976
National Association of Women Deans and Counselors
National Broadcasting Company, inc.
National Conference of Christians and Jews
Neilson, William Allan, 1869-1946
Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia, 1900-1979
Peabody, Josephine Preston, 1874-1922
Radcliffe College--Admission
Radcliffe College. Alumnae Association
Radcliffe College--History
Radcliffe College--Students
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970
Sarton, George, 1884-1956
Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972
Smith College
Stone, Lucy, 1818-1893
Switzer, Mary Elizabeth
Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim
United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve.
University of Minnesota
Van Waters, Miriam, 1887-1974