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Seminary textbooks

This Collection is composed of books published in the 19th century that are known to have been used in the courses of study at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Identification of the books has been made from the listings given in the school catalogs from the opening in 1837 to 1888, when the school obtained a collegiate charter.

The “course of study and instruction” for the entering students in 1837 contained English grammar, geography, ancient and modern history, politics, botany, rhetoric, Euclid and human physiology, and the student was expected to arrive with a good knowledge of Adam’s New Arithmetic. Combined with the school catalogs, the Textbook Collection allows for a comparison of Mount Holyoke’s curriculum to that of contemporary institutions of higher education throughout the eastern United States and documents changes to the curriculum during the first 50 years.

In addition to the textbooks, the Collection contains selections that the students were advised to bring with them, such as a book of Psalms and a collection of vocal music. Most of the books in this Collection were acquired from descendants of those early students.

Following is an inventory of the textbooks used from the opening of the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1837 until the granting of the collegiate charter in 1888. The list is divided into three parts (Microsoft Excel files):

The lists were compiled from information provided in the Mount Holyoke catalogs, which is usually limited to the author’s last name and a one- or two-word descriptive title, such as Olney’s Trigonometry. A red check mark before a title indicates a work that is not currently owned by Mount Holyoke in a 19th-century edition.