Office of the Secretary Records
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
From the creation of the Board of Trustees in 1749, there has always been a person who was responsible for the task of maintaining the minutes, coordinating meetings, and preparing and, beginning in 1828, signing diplomas. The person responsible for these tasks often held another office in the University. When the office of Secretary to the Board was created in 1764, the Provost, Rev. William Smith, was elected to the post. Later, in 1780, the position moved from the Provost's duties and combined with those of the Treasurer. With the increasing administrative demands upon the University and the growing bureaucracy in American higher education of the late 19th century, the Board of Trustees decided to separate the position from the post of Treasurer-Secretary. The office of the Secretary of the University to the Board of Trustees was created in its modern form in 1882. Beginning in 1882, the Secretary acted as a wholly independent officer of the Board and University.
The expansion program of Provost William Pepper from 1881 to 1894, which resulted in the creation of the thirteen new departments within the University, was the real factor behind the increasing work and creation of the independent Secretary. The first Secretary to hold this newly formed office was the Rev. Jesse Young Burk (1840-1904). It was during Burk's tenure that the work of the office began to slowly grow. Administering all the new schools, preparing and reviewing of all university publications, as well as following and implementing the plans of the Trustees, created greater demands upon the Secretary's time. By 1891 these had become so great that the Board created the Assistant Secretary position, which was held by Edward Warloch Mumford (1868-1941).
In 1895 Pepper's successor as Provost, Charles Custis Harrison, displayed an interest in improving the operation of the Office of the Secretary when he took notice that the office was not a "going concern. Despite Harrison's interest, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary had no help beyond "the comparatively feeble assistance . . . [of an] office boy" who was the personal employee of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary. The staffing of the office remained the same during the tenure of Burk's successors J. Hartley Merrick and Edward Robins.
The true professionalized nature of the Office the Secretary took its shape in 1919 with the appointment of Edward W. Mumford to the position of Secretary. It is clear that he was chosen by the Board of Trustees because he could bring "real business management" for which the office was in desperate need. With the aid of two office workers, Mumford proceeded to take on the responsibilities of the office as described in Statues of 1920:
He shall keep regular minutes of the meetings of the Board, carefully preserve and file all communications, reports, and papers of importance; act as Secretary of all committees of the Board and preserve the minutes of their proceedings; give notice of appointments to all committees, and transmit to them all papers, documents, and copies of resolutions referred to them; give notice of all stated and special meetings, and in general perform the duties of a Secretary under the direction of the President pro tempore, or of any committee of the Board of Trustees. He shall have the custody of the corporate seal of the University, and shall affix it, and attest the same, to such instruments as the Board of Trustees may direct.
In addition to those outlined above, he still had charge of supervising the publication of the University catalogue, bulletin and other educational announcements, as well as the important task of revising and printing the statutes of the University (a duty of the Secretary since the 1820's). As a result of the reorganization of the Board of Trustees in 1928, the Secretary's power to execute legal documents was expanded. The Secretary's record-keeping responsibilities extended from the Board of Trustees and its committees to maintaining an institutional archives, a duty which Mumford particularly enjoyed. It was Mumford who began the first retrospective index of the Trustee's minutes. With the creation of the University Archives in 1945, the Secretary could concentrate upon the more immediate concerns of the University.
The Office of the Secretary continues to perform all of the basic functions solidified during Mumford's tenure. The responsibility of this office has grown to include notification of appointments and promotions; extended management of files concerning the legal obligations and relationships of the University to many corporately dependent schools and outside institutions; and the implementation of the University Judicial System, created in 1970 to handle infractions of student discipline more effectively. The real change for the office since Mumford's time has been the sheer increase in the volume of work. Rising enrollment, beginning in 1920's and a proliferation of committees in the 1960's and 1970's generated greater administrative work for which the Secretary was responsible. In response the Office staff increased over the last thirty years. In 1952 a second Assistant Secretary position was created, subsequently supplemented by additional professional staff.
List of Secretaries of the Modern Era
Rev. Jesse Young Burk, June 1882 - October 1904 (died)
James Hartley Merrick, December 1904 - October 1907
No election of a Secretary reported in the Trustees minutes between 1907 and 1911
Edward Robins, January 1911 - June 1919
Edward Warloch Mumford, November 1919 - April 1941 (died)
Phelps Soule, October 1941 - April 1946
Donald Kinney Angell, 1946 - January 1956 John Cummings Hetherston, January 1956 - May 1963
Stuart H. Carroll, June 1963 - July 1968
William G. Owen, July 1968 - October 1975
Donald T. Sheehan, October 1975 - November 1976
John C. Hunt, November 1976 - April 1977
Janis Irene Somerville, September 1977 - May 1978
Mary Ann Meyers, January 1980 - December 1990
Barbara Ray Stevens, February 1991 – June 1997
Rosemary McManus, March 1998 - July 2000
Leslie Laird Kruhly, September 2000 - June 2019
Medha Narvekar, July 2019
The records of the Office of the Secretary reflect the many duties and responsibilities of the Secretary as both an officer of the Board of Trustees and as well as an official in the University administration. The original and primary duty of the Secretary, that of recording the minutes of the Board of Trustees, along with the other duties as record keeper; as a liaison to the many committees of the University which were formed to create and monitor policy; as a coordinator of meetings; as a disseminator of committee policies and decisions; and as representative of the board of trustees' interests are all well represented within this collection.
The minute books, 1749 - 1990, in addition to maintaining the official record of the Board, also contain the minutes of the Executive Board, which was created in 1928 to carry out the major functions of the trustees between the meetings of the full Board. Indices (created in 1920 and continuing) provide name and subject access to the actions of both the full and executive board from 1749 until 1825, and from 1860 until 1989.
The bulk of the collection documents the actions of a wide variety of University committees spanning from 1833 to 1989. There are: minutes (in formal and draft form), agendas, correspondence, and membership lists, for several hundred committees. Though reports presented to and produced by committees are sometimes contained within the committee material, the majority are found in the report series.
The selection and promotion of school administrators and educators also figures as an important part of this collection. Since the Board of Trustees has the ultimate authority in all school appointments and promotions, the Secretary must notify all candidates of the Board's final decision. Information about the process in which these school administrators were selected for their posts can be found in the search committee files, 1974 - 1989. Included are: minutes of the selection committee, evaluations, resume's, and letters of recommendation for each candidate.
Clarification of some of the finer points of University administration and commitments can be found in the agreements, 1965 - 1985, delineating both the legal obligations and relationships of the University to many corporately dependent schools and outside institutions. The statutes, 1912 -1981, detail the development of university administration and its structure. There are often annotations within these files which give a sense of how the University changed over time.
Judicial system files, 1969 - 1977 include: reports, correspondence, student codes, and case files. Correspondence, reports of charges, and some physical evidence may be found within the case files.
Letterpress books, 1891 - 1911; general correspondence, 1891 - 1990; reports, 1937, 1952 - 1989; and University Council papers, 1963 - 1989 fully document other more general efforts of the Secretary to fulfill the duties of the Office. Information on the University as a corporation as well as a community may be found readily throughout these records. Topics include: financial affairs; insurance; legislation; medical and Hospital affairs; president's staff issues; student matters; operational and physical plant concerns; faculty issues, ad hoc educational functions; athletics; judicial proceedings; and virtually every aspect of the ever evolving functions of this large University.
The Office of the Secretary Records are organized into thirteen series: General Files, General Correspondence, Board of Trustees Material, Committee Files, Search Committee Files, Dean Review, Judicial System Files, Events, Mary Ann Meyers FIles, Reports, AV Material, and Memorabilia. Each series is arranged chronologically.
Researchers should note that the organization of the physical files may differ from how they are arranged in the finding aid. When requesting material, attention should be given to the box and folder numbers.
The papers of the Office of the Secretary have come into the possession of the University Archives in a number of transfers. The following is a list of the boxes and the date of accession:
Before 1955, 3 cubic ft.; January 26, 1956, 26 cubic ft.; before 1962, 4 cubic ft.; June 14, 1962, 4 cubic; July 3, 1962, 10 cubic ft.; August 25, 1965, 5 cubic ft.; June 29, 1967, 9 cubic ft.; August 30, 1968, 6 cubic ft.; October 3, 1969, 5 cubic ft.; before 1970, 20 cubic ft.; March 6, 1970, 1 cubic ft.; August 5, 1970, 8 cubic ft.; December 22, 1970, 3 cubic ft.; July 16, 1971, 10 cubic ft.; September 21, 1972, 10 cubic ft.; July 26, 1973, 13 cubic ft.; August 22, 1973, 9 cubic ft.; July 16, 1974, 17 cubic ft.; December 19, 1974, 8 cubic ft.; October 5, 1976, 21 cubic ft.; July 14, 1977, 8 cubic ft.; August 1, 1978, 11 cubic ft.; August 2, 1978, 2 cubic ft.; August 1, 1979, 13 cubic ft.; September 17, 1980, 7 cubic ft.; November 18, 1980, 3 cubic ft.; November 30, 1981, 5 cubic ft.; July 14, 1981, 1 cubic ft.; July 29, 1983, 9 cubic ft.; December 10, 1984, 5 cubic ft.; August 1990, 48 cubic ft.; June 1991, 1 cubic ft.
- University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
- Finding Aid Author
- J.M. Duffin, revised by Timothy H. Horning and Joseph-James Ahern
- Finding Aid Date
- 1991, revised 2012, 2018
- Access Restrictions
Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center. Portions of this collection may be closed.