M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives


Finding Aid for the
PAPERS, 1884-1983


For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518)-437-3935.

Finding Aid Compiled by
Rosann Santos and Geoff Williams
November 2001

M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935

VOLUME: .5 cubic feet

ACQUISITION: All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by the University Alumni Association as part of the Alumni Memorabilia Collection.

ACCESS: Access to this record group is unrestricted.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder List

Anna E. Pierce Papers
Administrative History

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Anna Eloise Pierce was born on September 18, 1866 to Edmund Pierce and Susan H. Sloan, both of Worcester, NY. She was the second of three children living on a 40-acre farm. She graduated from Albany High School in 1881 and began teaching at the age of 15. On June 26, 1884, Pierce graduated from the NYS Normal School in Albany. With the help of her cousin, Dr. Andrew S. Draper (Superintendent of Schools), Pierce received an appointment as a relief teacher and secretary to President Waterbury.[1] After a year and a quarter as the Preceptress of the Lisle Academy in Lisle, NY, Anna Pierce began a lifelong professional association with the New York State Normal School.

Anna Pierce began her career at the Normal School on July 23, 1886, when President Brubacher hired her as a secretary and substitute. One year later, she was appointed as Member of the Faculty (September 19, 1887), teaching mathematics from 1882-1892. She remained in that post until September of 1891 when she became Principal of the Primary Department of the Model School of the newly renamed New York State Normal College. She eventually became the Dean of Women at the Normal School from 1913-1933, and was affectionately known as "Dean Annie."[2] As dean, Anna Pierce, was perhaps best remembered for her support of the construction of dorms for women, and for the institutionalization of in loco parentis as it referred to women students.

In the 1920s, Pierce and John Sayles encouraged the alumni, friends of the college and the student body to raise funds to build dormitories. Throughout the 1920s, Pierce corresponded with Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (Abby) for information about her study of housing conditions for young women in industry. As Dean of Women, Pierce wished "to improve housing conditions for the women students in State College.It is a fact that in nearly all such institutions the women are inadequately housed in approved private homes, in sorority and other student-managed houses, or in boarding halls under private management all of which facilities fail in many particulars to give the influence and training that we ought to provide for these young women so soon to be sent out as leaders."[3] By 1935, Pierce Hall was opened. At the same time, Sayles Hall was under construction' realizing one of Pierce's long-term goals for the College. For Pierce, long-range housing was to instill a higher-level of sensibilities in the students. In 1920, President Brubacher awarded Pierce with an honorary degree of Master of Pedagogy from the New York State College for Teachers.[4]

In 1928 she authored Deans and Advisors of Women and Girls, where she outlined some of the main responsibilities of college personnel who deal closely with female students. For example, she expressed the need for religious and moral training, appropriate dress and personal appearance, and proper behavior at social activities. These philosophies were also outlined in the College's student handbooks, penned primarily by Pierce and outlining the rules for chaperonage, dress, etc. Around the same time, Pierce developed an interest in the health of students. In 1925, while Chairman of the Health Committee of the National Association of deans of Women, she directed a survey of the student health service in the United States. In 1927, she prepared a catalog of Student Health Literature.[5]

In 1941 Pierce Hall on Alumni Quad, originally called the Alumni Residence Hall was renamed for Dean Anna Pierce. She continued to serve the school even after her retirement as dean, becoming active in the College's Alumni Association, which controlled campus residence halls, president of the Half Century Club of the Alumni Association, and active member of the Benevolent Association. She died at age 91 on November 6, 1956. (See "In Memory," Alumni Quarterly, January 1957 pages 6-8.)


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1. See letter from Draper to Pierce and Letter from Draper to Susan Sloan, both written on May 26, 1886. See Folder 3 "Correspondence."
2. New York State Normal College Annual Circular and Announcement, 1913-1914. This is the first instance where Anna Pierce is mentioned under the title of Dean of Women
3. First letter to Mrs. Rockefeller from Pierce, undated. See Folder 3, "Correspondence."
4. Letter from [Thomas E. Finegan?] to Anna Pierce dated June 21, 1920. See Folder 3, "Correspondence." See also Pierce's Memoir, pg. 18, Folder 5
5. Memoir, pg. 21. See Folder 5.

Anna E. Pierce Papers
Scope & Content Note

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Anna E. Pierce (1866-1956) was an administrator, educator and alumnae of the New York State College of Teachers. Her papers (1884-90, 1920-46) include her autobiography/memoir (1776-1927), correspondence, lecture notes, publications, clippings, a sound recording, and a diary (1935-47) relating to her studies at the New York State Normal School at Albany and her appointment as a teacher, to her service as an officer in the Alumni Association, and especially to her campaign to provide campus housing for women. Pierce corresponded with Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (Abby Rockefeller) from 1920-29 on the subject of housing for women on college campuses. Also included are the texts of lectures given by Pierce on the importance of spiritual training for youth.

Anna E. Pierce Papers
Box and Folder List

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Box 1

1. Civil War Readings Bibliography, undated
2. Clippings (Miscellaneous), 1921, 1925-26, 1928, 1931, 1937, 1941, 1944, 1956-57, 1983
3. Correspondence, 1884, 1886, 1911, 1920-28, 1933, 1950
4. Diary, 1935-47
5. Memoir (typescript) and Family History, 1776-1927
6. "Reunion of the Graduates of the Albany Normal School," Albany High School, 1883
7. Family and Teaching Certificates, 1853, 1881, 1888, 1921, 1948
8. Catalog of Literature for Advisers of Young Women and Girls, 1921
9. Deans and Advisors of Women and Girls, 1928 (not physically in a folder)
10. Sound Recording, Souvenir 45 of Anna Pierce's Voice, April 7, 1937

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Last updated August 21, 2007
For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff