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Shakespeare Society records

Identifier: 6SS-Shakespeare

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the records of the Shakespeare Society, dating from 1882 to 2011. Includes administrative records such as: meeting agendas, minutes and programs; schedules, address books, membership lists, constitutions, application and acceptance records, financial records and ledgers, reports, and records of the establishment and maintenance of Shakespeare House (including photos). Administrative records include materials on the broader evolution of Societies at Wellelsey College, including proposed reorganizations and alumnae responses, overlapping with the groups Society Congress, Wellesley College Government Association, Academic Council, and the Joint Intersociety Council. Also includes records of Society events such as: event invitations, playbills, fliers, and tickets, production planning materials (including scripts and set designs), and photos of plays and actors posed in costume. Includes files about the Society's history and activities, such as: a file with written histories and related notes, a file of Society poems and songs, files with papers written by Society members, Society newsletters and news clippings, and group photos.


  • 1882-2011


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. To make an appointment to view materials, please contact the Archives staff by email at or by phone at (781) 283-3745.

Conditions Governing Use

The Wellesley College Archives welcomes researchers to use materials in the public domain, to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law, and to request permission to use works whose copyright is held by Wellesley College. All materials from the Archives, regardless of copyright status, should be attributed to the Wellesley College Archives, Library and Technology Services when cited, quoted, or reproduced.

Biographical / Historical

Wellesley College’s Shakespeare Society was founded in 1877 as an offshoot of the Shakespeare Society of London, to study and perform the works of William Shakespeare, with 12 founding members. Initially, membership was exclusive to seniors with excellent academic records. From 1877 ntil 1880, meetings where held in the Society Hall (which became the Elocution Hall); for 3 years the Society had no distinct meeting place, until 1883 when it was designated a room in the Art Building. Shakespeare House was built beginning in June, 1898, opened in fall of 1901, and still stands today (as of April 2021). The Society performed its first full play on the bank of Longfellow Pond in June, 1887. From 1889 until 1912, the Society held performances of Shakespeare’s plays at Commencement, and held monthly meetings to read critical papers and present scenes from plays. For the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, English Professor Katherine Lee Bates proposed the creation of the Shakespeare Garden, featuring plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works (approximately 25 species were eventually included). Botany Professor Helen Davis was responsible for the garden layout; for the following 10 years she and her landscape gardening class maintained the garden, but around the time she began to design the Hunnewell Arboretum and Alexandra Botanic Garden, the Shakespeare Garden ceased to be maintained (the garden's sundial was moved to the Shakespeare House).

[Information from: Glasscock, Jean, and Katharine Canby Balderston. Wellesley College, 1875-1975: a Century of Women. Wellesley College, 1975. Pages 175, 331; Kahn, Gail. "Lost Gardens of Wellesley," Friends of WCBG Spring Newsletter, 2017. Pages 1, 10; file: "Shakespeare Society history, 1904-1985," from Shakespeare Society records (6SS-Shakespeare), Box 3, Folder 1.]


2.4 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Wellesley College. Shakespeare Society. Shakespeare Society records, 1882-2011: a container list
Collection-level description updated by Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones, Project Archivist, in May 2020. File-level inventory provided by Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones, Project Archivist, in April 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository