Mount Vernon Seminary and College graphics, publications, and administrative material collection
Scope and Content
This collection contains photographs, slides, scrapbook pages, faculty handbooks, correspondence, brochures, event programs, student and alumni publications, and oversized poster boards and artifacts, which include plaques, framed photographs, and Mount Vernon College themed paraphenalia. These materials were produced and used by students and faculty of the Mount Vernon Seminary and College, a private Washington, D.C. women's college which operated from 1875 until 1999, when it merged with the George Washington University. Items date from 1875 to 2002.
The majority of photographs and other visual materials in this collection document the daily lives and special activities of students, and were created either by the students themselves or by the institution for promotional purposes. Other photographs document a wide variety of alumni events; photo albums and scrapbook pages trace the lives of alumni from their student days to their shared reunions decades later. Images of the Mount Vernon campus range from informal snapshots of storm damage and students outdoors, to architectural drawings and posters showcasing the opening of new buildings. In addition to the large number of images, supplementary material including event programs, brochures, and publications give context to the photographs of theatre productions, student portraits, and campus scenes. A small number of administrative materials associated with the photographic material has also been included. The factbooks, chronologies, and correspondence in this administrative series provide an overview of college life and insight into some of the larger college events depicted in photographs.
Of special interest in this collection are scrapbook pages dating to the early half of the 20th century and created by students to reflect the highlights of their college experience. The class of 1940 photo album, in particular, shows the progression of a cohort of young women from graduation up to their 50th reunion, illuminating the continuing involvement of alumni and their dedication to the college. Finally, the oversized materials include a variety of class photos and plaques of dedication and celebration, revealing the community-centered character of the college and its students.
- Creation: 1875-2002
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1997
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research.
Restrictions on 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.
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.
20 Linear Feet (document boxes and oversized boxes)
Language of Materials
This collection contains photographs, slides, scrapbook pages, faculty handbooks, correspondence, brochures, event programs, student and alumni publications, and oversized poster boards and artifacts, which include plaques, framed photographs, Mount Vernon College themed paraphenalia, and various items of A/V equipment. These materials documenting the the daily lives of students, special college events, and alumni involvement in college life, were produced and used by students and faculty of the Mount Vernon Seminary and College between 1875 and 2002.
Organized into 9 series: Slides, Photographs, Scrapbook Pages, Administrative Materials, Brochures, Event Programs, Student and Alumni Publications, Artifacts, and Oversized Posters and Plaques.
Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
Other Finding Aids
There are many collections from the Mount Vernon Archives that contains similar topics and types of content to that found within this collection. Please use http://library.gwu.edu/scrc/search/finding-aids-by-topic/mount-vernon-seminary-and-college for a complete list.
The Mount Vernon Seminary and College archives were acquired by GWU upon merger with Mount Vernon College. The collection was transferred to the Foggy Bottom campus in 2009.
Boxes 27-29 and 30-39 were added to this collection at later dates. The materials are arranged within these boxes chronologically by series.
- Guide to the Mount Vernon Seminary and College Mount Vernon Seminary and College graphics, publications, and administrative material collection, 1890-2000
- 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