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Continuing Education student records

Identifier: 6C-CE

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of records of Continuing Education students, or Davis Scholars (including the "Special Students" of the College's early years) dating from 1885-1895 and 1992-2006. Includes news articles on alumnae and their achievements, correspondence and course materials from students' time at Wellesley, notes from the Registrar's Office on classes taken by Special Students, and photo albums and scrapbooks of Special Students (including students of the Department of Hygiene and Physical Education).


  • 1885-1895, 1974-2006


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research, but contains some material which has been restricted as per the Wellesley College Archives Access Policy: To make an appointment to view unrestricted 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

The term “Special Student” was used during the early years of Wellesley College to refer to students enrolled at the semi-autonomous School of Music (started in 1878) and School of Art (started in 1879). These students were exclusively studying these subjects, and not in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree (a Bachelor’s of Music degree was only once awarded in 1883 as a distinction). Special Students could receive a diploma from either school, and a “Five Years’ Course” program allowed traditional students to receive a diploma in music or art as well as a Bachelor’s degree. There were also Special Students taking a teachers’ collegiate course which started as early as 1876 (potentially the year before). This enabled older women who were already teaching to continue to specialize, without being degree candidates. In 1877 this was expanded to allow older women who were not teachers to pursue coursework without being degree candidates. Later, there were some Special Students in Hygiene and Physical Education. The Boston Normal School of Gymnastics (BNSG) was incorporated into Wellesley College in 1909, and those who had been students at the School at the time of incorporation were accepted as Special Students. BNSG students would receive a certificate on completion of 2-year course; the program later offered Master’s degrees. The BNSG program was discontinued in 1953. Special Students included some early international students, including Wellesley College’s first international student, Kin Kato Takeda, who attended from 1888-1889.

Wellesley College established the Continuing Education Program in 1971, and in 1991 renamed the program the Davis Degree Program (and its participants Davis Scholars) in honor of Elisabeth Kaiser Davis, Class of 1932. This program supports students who are undergraduates at a non-traditional age, and supports a flexible schedule (full time or part time). Davis Scholars take the same classes as the rest of the undergraduate student body and meet the same academic degree requirements. There is a dedicated social space for Davis Scholars at the Continuing Education House on Tupelo Lane, and two dedicated residence halls: Cedar Lodge for year-round housing and Homestead for 9 month housing.

[Information from: Glasscock, Jean, and Katharine Canby Balderston. Wellesley College, 1875-1975: a Century of Women. Wellesley College, 1975. See also the Davis Degree Program page of the Wellesley College website, at URL:


4.4 Linear Feet (1 box, 4 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



6C Classes collections are artificial collections. Artificial collections are created by Archivists bringing together multiple smaller acquisitions to the archives from multiple creators, and organizing them based on their subject. This is unlike most archival collections which are organized by provenance, meaning by the original creator, and which maintain the original creator’s arrangement of the collection.
Continuing Education student records, 1885-2005: a guide
Natalia Gutiérrez-Jones, Project Archivist
2019 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository