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Mount Vernon Seminary and College Academic Affairs records

Identifier: MVC0031-RG

Scope and Contents

This collection contains academic affairs materials from Mount Vernon Seminary, Mount Vernon Junior College, and Mount Vernon College, including course syllabi and administrative files. The material dates from 1939-1997.


  • Creation: 1939-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1939 - 1986

Conditions Governing Access

The student quizzes and tests in Series 2 Box 27 Folder 5 are restricted for 100 years from date of record creation. Access may be provided to individual items before the 100 years has passed if it is determined that the student is deceased.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

The Mount Vernon Seminary was officially established by Elizabeth Somers in 1875 with classes held at her residence on F Street; she named it after her brother’s church in Baltimore, Mount Vernon Place Methodist. The Seminary began as a six year prepatory school, with four years of high school level classes, and two years of post-high school curriculum, calling it a “Family and Day School for Young Ladies.” In order to graduate, students had to complete a formal process of “Senior Essays” in which they completed primary research and wrote on a current political or social topic, including such provocative issues as child labor, prohibition, poverty, and women’s suffrage.

The school was moved to 1100 M. Street N.W. in 1900 and was once again moved in 1917 to a campus on Nebraska Avenue. In 1920 graduating class, eight women continued their education at universities such as the University of Wisconsin, Stanford, Northwestern and the University of Texas; by 1923 graduates were going to such other prestigious universities as UC-Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Smith College and the University of Chicago. Such advancements in higher education were uncommon for women of the day, but Mount Vernon was one of the premier prepatory institutions in the country.

In 1927, Mount Vernon established a Junior College, and with its establishment, students no longer had to complete six years of courses to receive a diploma; they graduated from the Seminary after four years and could continue on to the Junior College for two more years of college preparation. After World War II began, the U.S. Navy took over the campus in 1942 as a part of the war effort. During the 1943 academic year, the Seminary held classes in Spring Valley by leasing neighborhood residences. After receiving "just compensation" for their Nebraska Avneue campus, the school purchased 21 acres on Foxhall Road and surrounding areas in 1945, and had applied for accreditation to award Associates of Arts Degrees after completing two years of the Junior College.

Despite its expansion, by 1965 the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to dissolve the Seminary by 1969, as it could not financially support both institutions. During the 1960s, the Junior College developed new academic concentrations such as government, international relations and political science to reflect its location in the nation’s capital. At the same time, it began to phase out its vocational training such as home economics and secretarial skills to make room for these higher education courses.

By 1973, the Board of Higher Education licensed the college to award Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees such as Public Affairs, Government, Business Administration, Childhood, Special Education, and the Visual Arts, as well as honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and Juris Doctor Degrees; in 1976, the college received initial accreditation as a four-year college and was reaccredited ten years later. However, by 1996 the college announced a plan to affiliate with George Washington University and the last class of Mount Vernon College graduated in 1999. Today, as an affiliated campus of GWU, Mount Vernon offers special living accommodations, as well as learning and leadership programs for female students.


13.5 Linear Feet (25 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The Mount Vernon Seminary was officially established by Elizabeth Somers in 1875 and a two year junior college was added in 1927. The Junior College remained open until 1969, when Mount Vernon College became a four-year unversity. The university was an independent institution until 1999, when it became affilated with The George Washington University.

This collection includes Mount Vernon Seminary, Junior College, and College course write ups and syllabi.


Organized into two series: Syllabi and Administrative files.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.


Guide to the Mount Vernon Seminary and College Academic Affairs records, 1939-1997
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America