|Established||1879-1999 (Radcliffe College); 1999-present (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study)|
|Location||Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA|
Radcliffe College, formerly a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was all-male Harvard College's coordinate institution for female students. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges, amongst which it shared with Bryn Mawr College the popular reputation of having a particularly intellectual and independent-minded student body. Radcliffe conferred Radcliffe College diplomas for the first 70 or so years of its history and then joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963. A formal "non-merger merger" agreement with Harvard was signed in 1977, with full integration with Harvard completed in 1999. Today, within Harvard University, Radcliffe's former administrative campus (Radcliffe Yard) is home to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and former Radcliffe housing at the Radcliffe Quadrangle (Pforzheimer House, Cabot House, and Currier House) has been incorporated into the Havard College house system. Under the terms of the 1999 consolidation, the Radcliffe Yard and the Radcliffe Quadrangle maintain the "Radcliffe" designation in perpetuity.
The "Harvard Annex," a private program for the instruction of women by Harvard faculty, was founded in 1879 after prolonged efforts by women to gain access to Harvard. Arthur Gilman, banker, philanthropist and writer, was the founder of what became the College. Gilman was a Cambridge resident who hoped to establish a higher educational opportunity for his daughter. In conversations with the chair of Harvard's classics department, he outlined a plan to have Harvard faculty deliver instruction to a small group of Cambridge and Boston women. He then approached Harvard President Charles Eliot with the idea and Eliot approved. Gilman and Eliot recruited a group of prominent and well-connected Cambridge women to manage the plan. These women were Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, Mary H. Cooke, Stella Scott Gilman, Mary B. Greenough, Ellen Hooper Gurney, Alice Mary Longfellow and Lillian Horsford.
Building upon Gilman's premise, the committee convinced 44 members of the Harvard faculty to consider giving lectures to female students in exchange for extra income paid by the committee. The program came to be known informally as "The Harvard Annex." The course of study for the first year included 51 courses in 13 subject areas, an "impressive curriculum with greater diversity than that of any other women's college at its inception. Courses were offered in Greek, Latin, English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish; philosophy, political economy, history, music, mathematics, physics, and natural history."
The committee members hoped that by raising an enticing endowment for The Annex they would be able to convince Harvard to admit women directly into Harvard College. The university, however, resisted. In his inaugural address as president of Harvard in 1869, Charles Eliot summed up the official Harvard position toward female students when he said, "The world knows next to nothing about the capacities of the female sex. Only after generations of civil freedom and social equality will it be possible to obtain the data necessary for an adequate discussion of woman's natural tendencies, tastes, and capabilities...It is not the business of the University to decide this mooted point."
The committee persevered despite Eliot's skepticism about females. Indeed, the project proved to be a success, attracting a growing number of students. As a result, the Annex was incorporated in 1882 as the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women, with Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, widow of Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, as president. This Society awarded certificates to students but did not have the power to confer academic degrees. In subsequent years, on-going discussions with Harvard about admitting women directly into the university still came to a dead end, and instead Harvard and the Annex negotiated the creation of a degree-granting institution, with Harvard professors serving as its faculty and visiting body. This modification of the Annex was charted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Radcliffe College in 1894. The Boston Globe reported "President of Harvard To Sign Parchments of the Fair Graduates"). It is named for Lady Ann Mowlson, born Radcliffe, who established the first scholarship at Harvard in 1643. Ada Comstock, a leader in the movement to provide women with higher education, who hailed from the University of Minnesota and Smith College, became the newly chartered college's president. Students seeking admission to the college were required to sit for the same entrance examinations required of Harvard students.
By 1896, the Globe could headline a story: "Sweet Girls. They Graduate in Shoals at Radcliffe. Commencement Exercises at Sanders Theatre. Galleries Filled with Fair Friends and Students. Handsome Mrs. Agassiz Made Fine Address. Pres Eliot Commends the Work of the New Institution." The Globe said "Eliot stated that the percentage of graduates with distinction is much higher at Radcliffe than at Harvard" and that although "[i]t is to yet to be seen whether the women have the originality and pioneering spirit which will fit them to be leaders, perhaps they will when they have had as many generations of thorough education as men." In 1904, a popular historian wrote of the College's genesis: "...it set up housekeeping in two unpretending rooms in the Appian Way, Cambridge.... Probably in all the history of colleges in America there could not be found a story so full of colour and interest as that of the beginning of this woman's college. The bathroom of the little house was pressed into service as a laboratory for physics, students and instructors alike making the best of all inconveniences. Because the institution was housed with a private family, generous mothering was given to the girls when they needed it." Moving on from the little house, in the first two decades of the 20th century Radcliffe started the beginnings of its own campus consisting of the Radcliffe Yard and the Radcliffe Quadrangle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not far from that of Harvard. The original Radcliffe gymnasium and library, and the Bertram, Whitman, Eliot, and Barnard dormitories were constructed during this period. With the 1920s and 1930s came dormitories Briggs Hall (1924) and Cabot Hall (1937) on the Quadrangle, and in the Radcliffe Yard the administrative building Byerly Hall (1932) and the classroom building Longfellow Hall (1930).
Radcliffe's optimistic construction activities during this period belied a somewhat tense relationship with Harvard. In the early 1930s Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell took a dim view of Radcliffe, maintaining that the time Harvard professors spent providing lectures to women distracted the faculty from their scholarship, and providing Radcliffe women access to research facilities and Harvard museums was—in his view—an unnecessary burden on the university's resources. He threatened to scuttle the relationship between the two institutions. Radcliffe was forced to agree to a limitation on the size of its student body, with 750 spaces for undergraduates and 250 for graduate students. This ceiling—renegotiated upward at various points throughout the relationship with Harvard—remained a constant in Radcliffe's existence until the 1977 "non-merger merger."
Growth and national prominence
In his history of the College, David McCord set Radcliffe apart from the other Seven Sister institutions, stating that "there is one respect in which Radcliffe differs from her sisters, and this should be made clear. Although she divides with Barnard, Bryn Mawr and Wellesley all advantages of a large city, and enjoys the further privilege of being front-fence neighbor to Harvard University, Radcliffe alone has had from the first the strength of a university faculty...Thus, from the beginning, Radcliffe has been a woman's Harvard. It is still a separate institution, with its own corporation, receiving from Harvard no financial aid." Because it had a university—as opposed to "collegiate"—faculty, Radcliffe was unique among the Seven Sisters in being able to provide a graduate program with a wide number of opportunities for students to pursue advanced studies. In fact, M. Carey Thomas, the second president and chief visionary of Bryn Mawr College, had actually lobbied against the conversion of the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women into Radcliffe College precisely because the Cambridge rival's access to a university faculty competed with Bryn Mawr's own academic ambitions. Between 1890 and 1963, Radcliffe awarded more than 750 PhDs and more than 3000 masters degrees to women. During the 1950s, the school conferred more PhDs to women than any schools other than Columbia and the University of Chicago. In 1955-1956, the College produced more female PhDs than any other institution in the United States.
Beyond the life of the mind, another appeal of Radcliffe was the comparative freedom that its undergraduates enjoyed. Cambridge and Boston provided diversions that were denied to women at more geographically isolated institutions. McCord noted that "the music, theaters and museums were surprisingly close." While students at many women's colleges only had social interactions with men on weekends, Radcliffe students saw men in town and, after 1943, in classes and laboratories on a daily basis while still having their own institution, student organizations and activities, and space. And in the 1950s, an era of "in loco parentis" at many women's institutions, housemothers kept diligent watch of the time when women returned to their dorms, locking the doors when check-in hour had arrived and punishing women who missed their check-in times. Radcliffe students, by contrast, had their own dormitory keys and filled out sign-in sheets when they arrived in the evening. Their lives were not as cloistered as those of some of their counterparts at the sister schools, and according to an article in Mademoiselle Magazine, "it was the richness and freedom of life at Radcliffe," which left its mark on the student body. (Conversely, the greater seclusion of places such as Smith, Vassar and Mt. Holyoke sometimes made these latter institutions more attractive to socially conservative families.)
Dances were popular features of undergraduate life. "At different times there were class dances, club dances, junior and senior proms, sophomore tea dances, Christmas dances, and spring formals. Dormitory-based dances were known as 'jolly-ups.'" One particularly popular event during the 1950s was the Radcliffe Grant in Aid show, which was sponsored by the Student Government. The show raised money for scholarships and always ended with a student kick-line in red shorts. Perhaps because of the shorts, Harvard students were particularly drawn to the event.
Because Radcliffe's faculty was Harvard's, in the college's first 50 years professors from Harvard—each under individual contracts with the Radcliffe administration—duplicated lectures, providing them first for men in the Harvard Yard and then crossing the Cambridge Common to provide the same lectures to women in the Radcliffe Yard. Of this experience Professor Elwood Byerly wrote that he "always found the spirit, industry, and ability of the girls admirable—indeed, the average has been higher in my mathematics classes in the Annex than in my classes at the college. Not all Harvard faculty and administrators took Radcliffe students seriously, however. Dorothy Howells notes that "Allegations were made that Radcliffe was a "vampire" and a "temptress" enticing the teacher from his career-advancing research and publication with the lure of additional income." Ruth Hubbard, a member of the Harvard faculty from 1974 to 1990 and a member of the Radcliffe class of 1944, noted that "the senior (Harvard) professors were less than thrilled to have to repeat their lectures at Radcliffe. The lower rank faculty members, who were sometimes detailed off to teach the introductory science courses at Radcliffe instead of teaching Harvard students, felt even more declasse."
During World War II, declines in male enrollment at Harvard and heightened sensitivity about the use of resources called for a new, more efficient arrangement concerning faculty time. Radcliffe and Harvard signed an agreement that for the first time allowed Radcliffe and Harvard students to attend the same classes in the Harvard Yard, officially beginning joint instruction in 1943. Equally significant, the agreement ended the era in which individual faculty members at Harvard could choose whether to enter contracts with Radcliffe. The agreement instead opened the entire Harvard catalogue to Radcliffe students, in exchange for which Radcliffe made a payment to Harvard of a fixed portion of Radcliffe tuitions. Radcliffe president Ada Louise Comstock noted that the agreement was "the most significant event since our charter was granted in 1894." All Harvard faculty, whether interested or not, had a legal obligation to teach Radcliffe students.
At the time both Harvard and Radcliffe were adamant in telling the press that this arrangement was "joint instruction" but not "coeducation." Reacting to the agreement, Harvard President James Bryant Conant famously stated that "Harvard was not coeducational in theory, only in practice." Indeed, residential life and student activities at Radcliffe remained separate from those at Harvard, with separate dormitories and dining facilities (located on the Radcliffe Quadrangle), newspapers(The Radcliffe News, Percussion), radio stations (WRRB and WRAD, a.k.a. Radio Radcliffe), drama society (The Idler), student government (Radcliffe Student Government Association and later, The Radcliffe Union of Students), yearbooks, athletic programs, choral associations (The Radcliffe Choral Society, the Cliffe Cleffs, and later the Radcliffe Pitches), etc. (located in the Radcliffe Yard). Radcliffe also maintained a separate admissions office which, by general acknowledgement, was more stringent in its academic requirements of applicants than Harvard's.
In the years after WWII Radcliffe negotiated a higher ceiling on its student enrollment. This success was orchestrated in tandem with additional housing construction. Moors Hall was completed in 1949, Holmes Hall in 1952, the Cronkhite Graduate Center in 1956, and Comstock Hall in 1958. The added dormitory space and national recruiting campaigns led to an increasingly national and international student body. The Jordan Cooperative Houses were built in 1961, and the College purchased Wolbach Hall, an apartment building, in 1964. Radcliffe constructed Hilles Library in 1970 and the Radcliffe Quadrangle Athletic Center in 1982.
The year 1961 was a watershed year in the College's housing arrangements. In that year, President Mary Bunting reorganized the autonomous Radcliffe dormitories into "Houses," mirroring Harvard's Houses and Yale's residential colleges. The three Houses (North, South, and East) were eventually consolidated into two (North and South), and then in 1970 the College completed construction of Currier House, the first Radcliffe House designed with the "House Plan" in mind. North House eventually was renamed Pforzheimer House in 1995 while South House became Cabot House in 1984. Bunting felt that the house system would give Radcliffe students an intellectual community comparable to what Harvard students were getting, bringing together faculty and students in a way the free-standing Radcliffe dormitories did not, and allowing all to see with greater clarity the aspirations, capabilities, and interests of undergraduate women. Speaking generally about her philosophy for Radcliffe, President Bunting noted that "part of our special purpose is to convey to our students and through them to others that there is no basic conflict between being intellectual and being feminine."
Bunting also established "The Radcliffe Institute" in 1961. The Institute—a precursor to the current Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—gave financial support, access to research libraries and facilities, and recognition to scholarly women who had taken time away from intellectual pursuits to focus on home and family. In providing women with a venue to return to academe, Bunting was recognizing that traditional academic institutions were premised on a male life trajectory where a scholar's domestic concerns were taken care of by someone else (usually a wife). The Radcliffe Institute (later renamed the Bunting Institute) was an institution premised on the needs of a female life trajectory, providing opportunities that might otherwise have been truncated by women's decisions during early adulthood to leave academia to raise children.
Growing consolidation with Harvard
The parallel Radcliffe and Harvard student universes—with formal intersections only in the classroom (but plenty of informal socializing outside of class)—continued until the 1960s. At this point, awareness of the comparative benefits of Radcliffe vis-a-vis the other Seven Sisters was eclipsed by growing sensitivity to the disadvantages that Radcliffe students had vis-a-vis Harvard students. Harvard students lived closer to the Harvard Yard, while Radcliffe students had a longer walk to Yard-based classes from the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Harvard housing was more luxurious than Radcliffe dormitories, and much more of the schools' shared intellectual life took place on the Harvard campus. Financial aid and student prizes at Harvard were larger than those at Radcliffe, even though students from the two schools were enrolled in the same courses. By the late 1950s the terms of the "joint instruction" agreement still imposed a ceiling on the enrollment of Radcliffe students, with Harvard males getting four times the number of spots in a freshman class that Radcliffe students got. And at the end of four years of study, students at Harvard received a diploma from Harvard while Radcliffe students taking the same courses received a diploma from Radcliffe.
These asymmetries did not bother all students, as some viewed the differences as a matter of course between two different institutions. Speaking of the situation, one Radcliffe graduate from the class of 1949 noted that she was "having my cake and eating it, too. In addition to my Harvard education, I was enjoying the benefits of a small women's college. The Radcliffe Quadrangle was quiet and peaceful, life in the dormitories was friendly and gracious...The women who had chosen to come to Radcliffe all were intelligent, quite independent, and concerned with the world around them." Additionally, Radcliffe offered a cultural advantage over Harvard: even when enrolled in the same courses, Harvard and Radcliffe student took exams separately, as Radcliffe College's honor code necessitated a vastly different exam-taking environment: "Where the men’s exam rituals included proctors, dress codes, and a strict ban on silence, the Radcliffe women took unproctored exams, relished the chance to wear informal pants instead of skirts, and could enter and exit the building as they wished so long as they did not cheat."  However, other people within the Radcliffe community were less sanguine, seeing the relationship with Harvard as an institutionalized separate but unequal experience for women. Famed poet Adrienne Rich, class of 1951, described receiving an "insidious double message" when she was at Radcliffe. Radcliffe students "were told that we were the most privileged college women in America," but "while intellectual and emotional life went on with intensity in all-female dorms, and we had our own newspaper, our own literary magazine, clubs, and student government, we knew that the real power (and money) were invested in Harvard's institutions, from which we were excluded.
Acceptance of the 19th century rationales for this exclusion was fading, particularly as during the 1960s a nationwide movement for co-education grew. Reflecting this movement, many Radcliffe students began to insist upon receiving Harvard diplomas for their academic work and upon merging Radcliffe and Harvard extra-curricular activities. Growing budgetary problems at Radcliffe encouraged this insistence. The Radcliffe Graduate School merged with Harvard's in 1963, and from that year onward Radcliffe undergraduates received Harvard University diplomas signed by the presidents of Radcliffe and Harvard [Harvard students' diplomas were signed only by the president of Harvard]. Many Radcliffe and Harvard student groups combined during the decade, and joint commencement exercises between the two institutions began in 1970. In 1971, largely in response to gains made by newly co-ed Princeton and Yale in their respective yields of students admitted to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and to comparable admissions competition posed by the increasing national popularity of co-ed Stanford, Harvard president Derek Bok reduced the admissions ratio of Harvard students to Radcliffe students from 4:1 to 5:2. That same year, several Harvard and Radcliffe dormitories began swapping students through an experimental program, and in 1972 full co-residence between the two colleges was instituted. The schools' departments of athletics merged shortly thereafter.
By the late 1960s there were open discussions between Radcliffe and Harvard about complete merger of the two institutions—which in truth meant abolition of Radcliffe. However, a merger study committee of the Radcliffe Alumnae Association recommended caution. In a prepared statement, the committee reported that "it would be a mistake to dissolve Radcliffe at this time. Women's self-awareness is increasing as the 'women's liberation' movement develops and as moderate groups call attention to the life styles and problems particular to women. This is precisely the wrong time to abolish a prestigious women's college which should be giving leadership to women as they seek to define and enlarge their role in society."
Instead of a complete merger, in 1977 Radcliffe and Harvard signed an agreement that, through their admission to Radcliffe, put undergraduate women entirely in Harvard College. The so-called "non-merger merger" combined the Radcliffe and Harvard admissions offices and ended the forced ceiling on female enrollment. In practice most of the energies of Radcliffe (which remained an autonomous institution) were then devoted to the institution's research initiatives and fellowships, rather than to female undergraduates. The Harvard and Radcliffe undergraduate communities and classes came to be known officially as "Harvard and Radcliffe" or "Harvard-Radcliffe", and female students continued to be awarded degrees signed by both presidents. Radcliffe continued to own its campus and provided financial aid, undergraduate prizes, and externship and fellowship opportunities to Radcliffe students, and the College continued to sponsor academic access programs for high school girls and continuing education opportunities for people outside the traditional college age. The College also continued to support programs and workshops targeting female undergraduates. In practice, though, Radcliffe at this point had minimal impact on the average undergraduate's day to day experiences at the university. Many students and Harvard administrators called for a full merger of the two schools. Conversely, supporters of the "non-merger merger" maintained that the agreement gave Radcliffe students the full benefits of Harvard citizenship while allowing maintenance of the proud Radcliffe identity, an institution with its own mission, programs, financial resources and alumnae network. For this camp, women anxious for full merger were analogous to women who were desperate to marry, rushing to take their husbands' names and turning their independent wealth and property over to their husbands to manage as their dowry.
The full merger faction ultimately prevailed. On October 1, 1999, Radcliffe College was fully absorbed into Harvard University; female undergraduates were henceforward members only of Harvard College while Radcliffe College evolved into the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The goals of the founders of The Annex had arguably been achieved, as Harvard College was now admitting women. The absorption had its detractors, however, as many Radcliffe alumnae felt their institution had relinquished its distinguished identity in favor of a male-oriented one. This latter perspective gained some traction when, in a voice reminiscent of Presidents Eliot and Lowell, Harvard's early 21st century president Lawrence Summers publically stated that women were not as capable in the sciences as men. Additionally, shortly after full merger of the two schools, Harvard undergraduate women who felt a void in Harvard's support for women's intellectual and personal development started to lobby Harvard to create a women's center. Indeed, memories of Harvard's historical indifference to women have led many Radcliffe alumnae to maintain primary ties to Radcliffe College and not Harvard University. Perhaps The Annex got some vindication against Presidents Eliot, Lowell, and Summers when Drew Gilpin Faust, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute, replaced Summers and became Harvard's first female president.
In the meantime, enriched by hundreds of millions of dollars that Harvard conferred unto Radcliffe at the time of the full merger, the Radcliffe Institute today awards dozens of annual fellowships to prominent academics. Although it does not focus solely on women returning to academe, it is a major research center within Harvard University. Its Schlesinger Library is one of America's largest repositories of manuscripts and archives relating to the history of women.
Several undergraduate student organizations in Harvard College still refer to Radcliffe in their names, (for example the Radcliffe Union of Students, Harvard's feminist organization; the Radcliffe Choral Society, Harvard's female choir (now one of the Holden Choirs), which has alumnae from both Radcliffe and Harvard and maintains a repertoire of Radcliffiana; the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra; the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players; the Radcliffe Pitches, a female a cappella singing group; and the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club). Two athletic teams still compete under the Radcliffe name: varsity crew, which still rows with Radcliffe's black-and-white oarblades and uniforms instead of Harvard's crimson-and-white (in 1973 the team had been the only varsity team which voted not to adopt the Harvard name); and club rugby union. In addition, the Harvard University Band still plays a Radcliffe fight song.
A number of Radcliffe alumnae have gone on to become notable in their respective fields, such as:
- Alice Adams, novelist
- Margaret Atwood, author
- Susan Berresford, Ford Foundation president
- Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Stockard Channing, actress
- Leda Cosmides, psychologist and co-founder of the field of evolutionary psychology
- Lindsay Crouse, actress
- Eva Beatrice Dykes, Ph.D., the first black American woman to fulfill the requirements for a doctoral degree
- Elizabeth Eisenstein, historian
- Barbara Epstein, founder of The New York Review of Books
- Amy Goodman, journalist and host of Democracy Now!
- Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe columnist
- Jamie Gorelick, Deputy U.S. Attorney General
- Jessie Eccles Quinney
- Mary Tucker Greeley, calligrapher and former director of the Oregon College of Art and Craft
- Lani Guinier, Harvard Law professor and civil rights activist
- Amy Gutmann, University Of Pennsylvania president
- Virginia Hall, American spy with the Special Operations Executive during WWII
- Elizabeth Holtzman, member of U.S. Congress
- Rona Jaffe, popular novelist
- Helen Keller, deafblind author and activist
- Henrietta Swan Leavitt, early Harvard College Observatory astronomer
- Ursula Le Guin, science fiction author
- Kate Levin, Commissioner of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
- Crown Princess Masako of Japan
- Mary Abigail McCarthy, daughter of Eugene McCarthy and Yale Law School professor; political activist
- Ruth Messinger, former member of New York City Council and former Borough President of Manhattan, currently CEO of American Jewish World Service.
- Ursula Oppens, classical pianist
- Mary White Ovington, co-founder of the NAACP and women's rights activist
- Maud Wood Park, suffragette and women's rights activist
- Carol Potter, television actress
- Eve Troutt Powell, historian at the University of Pennsylvania and winner of MacArthur Foundation "genius award"
- Bonnie Raitt, American blues musician
- Adrienne Rich, American poet and feminist
- Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's superstar of 1965
- Adele Simmons, former president of Hampshire College and the MacArthur Foundation
- Anna Deavere Smith, performance artist
- Muriel S. Snowden, social worker, founder of Freedom House in Roxbury, MA and recipient of MacArthur Foundation "genius award"
- Gertrude Stein, author
- Alice-Mary Talbot, Director Emerita of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC
- Barbara Tuchman, historian
- Marina von Neumann Whitman, economist serving on Council of Economic Advisors in Nixon and Ford Administrations
- All About Eve is a film whose script references Radcliffe three times.
- Addison (George Sanders) says during Karen's introduction, "(voice-over) Nothing in her background or breeding should have brought her any closer to the stage than row E, center... however, during her senior year in Radcliffe, Lloyd Richards lectured on drama. The following year Karen became Mrs. Lloyd Richards."
- Margo (Bette Davis) says to Karen (Celeste Holm), "Please don't play governess, Karen. I haven't your unyielding good taste. I wish I could have gone to Radcliffe too, but father wouldn't hear of it. He needed help behind the notions counter. I'm being rude now, aren't I? Or should I say, ain't I?".
- Lloyd (Hugh Marlowe) tells Karen, "That bitter cynicism of yours is something you've acquired since you left Radcliffe!" Karen replies, "The cynicism you refer to, I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys!"
- In Electra Glide in Blue, the intellectual hippie girl is arrested at one point for knowing a murder investigation suspect referred to as a "Radcliffe hippie".
- Rona Jaffe's novel Class Reunion and Alice Adams' novel Superior Women both deal with the lives of Radcliffe women in their college years and afterwards.
- Anton Meyer's novel "The Last Convertible" has several Radcliffe characters.
- The 1970 movie Love Story, and the Erich Segal novel it was based on, feature Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw) as a Radcliffe music student with whom wealthy Harvard student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) falls in love.
- Brenda Patimkin of Philip Roth's Goodbye, Columbus attends Radcliffe.
- The Woody Allen movie Manhattan includes a pedantic character played by Diane Keaton who attended Radcliffe. Additionally, Judy Davis's character in Allen's film Husbands and Wives claims she wrote her senior thesis at Radcliffe on Bauhaus architecture.
- The dating website OkCupid coined the adjective "Radcliffy" to describe characteristics stereotypically associated with women who go to Harvard University.
- In The Simpsons television episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love," Homer says the Loch Ness monster has eluded everyone, including Peter Graves. Mr. Burns (a Yale University graduate) retorts: "Peter Graves couldn't find ugly at a Radcliffe mixer".
- One of the two main characters in the 80s Beauty and the Beast—Catherine Chandler played by Linda Hamilton—is a Radcliffe graduate. Throughout the series, "Radcliffe" is her boss's nickname for her.
- The main character in Valley of the Dolls, Anne Welles, is a Radcliffe graduate.
- Howells, Dorothy Elia. A Century to Celebrate: Radcliffe College, 1879-1979 (1978)
- Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993 (2nd edition).
- Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. "The Passion of M. Carey Thomas", University of Illinois Press, 1999
- McCord, David. "An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College," Radclife College, 1958.
- Salie, Robert Douglas. "The Harvard Annex Experiment in the Higher Education of Women: Separate but Equal?" PhD dissertation Emory U. 1976. 399 pp.
- Schwager, Sally. "Harvard Women": A History of the Founding of Radcliffe College. Ed.D. diss., Harvard University, 1982.
- Sollors, Werner; Titcomb, Caldwell; and Underwood, Thomas A., eds. Blacks at Harvard: A Documentary History of African-American Experience at Harvard and Radcliffe (1993). 548 pp.
- Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher, ed. Yards and Gates: Gender in Harvard and Radcliffe History (2004). 337 pp.
- Horn, Miriam, quoting The Boston Globe, in "Rebels in White Gloves: Coming of Age with Hillary Clinton's Class—Wellesley '68," p. 8, co. 2000, Anchor. See also McCarthy, Mary, "How I Grew," pp. 119-120, co. 1987, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. See Berman, Susan "The Underground Guide to the College of Your Choice," pp. 234, 242, 246 and 404, co. 1971, Signet. See also Yale Daily News, "The Insiders Guide to the Colleges," 1975-76, co. 1975, G.P. Putnam and Sons.
- Obituary of Arthur Gilman, founder of Radcliffe College, The New York Times, Dec. 29, 1909
- Howells, Dorothy Elias, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p.1, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College," 1879-1979,p.6, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Sally Schwager, "Taking up the Challenge: The Origins of Radcliffe," in Yards and Gates: Gender in Harvard and Radcliffe History, ed. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 92-103
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p.viii, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Radcliffe College
- "Christened 'Radcliffe;' Annex Girls May Receive A College Degree. Overseers Vote to Carry Out Plans of the Friends of Fay House. President of Harvard To Sign Parchments of the Fair Graduates." The Boston Daily Globe, Dec. 7, 1893, p. 6
- "Sweet Girls. They Graduate in Shoals at Radcliffe. Commencement Exercises at Sanders Theatre. Galleries Filled with Fair Friends and Students. Handsome Mrs. Agassiz Made Fine address. Pres Eliot Commends the Work of the New Institution." The Boston Daily Globe, June 24, 1896, p. 4
- Crawford, Mary Caroline (1904). The College Girl of America. Boston: L. C. Page., p. 99-100
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p.22, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- David McCord,"An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College, p. 7-8, co. 1958
- see Horowitz, Helen, "The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas," co. 1999, University of Illinois Press.
- Howell, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 62, co. 1978, Radcliffe College
- McCord, David, "An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College," p. 63, co. Radcliffe College.
- McCord, David, "An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College, P. 51, co. 1958, Radcliffe College.
- McCord, David, "An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College," p.87, co. 1958, Radcliffe College.
- Howell, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 99, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Howell, Dorothy Elia, " A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 99, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- "Radcliffe College, 1879-1929," p.10, co. 1929, Harvard University Press.
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 44, co. 1978, Radcliffe College
- Hubbard, Ruth, "Memories of Life at Radcliffe, 1941-1944, from remarks presented at the April 29, 2000 'History and Memory:Gender at Harvard and Radclffe" conference, as reprinted in "The Women's Guide to Harvard," p.45, co. 2002, The Harvard-Radcliffe Women's Leadership Project.
- McCord, David, "An Acre for Education: Being Notes on the History of Radcliffe College, p.57-58, co.1958, Radcliffe College.
- Karabel, Jerome, "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton," p. 439, co.2005, Houghton, Mifflin Company.
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979," p.21, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Howells, Dorothy Elia, A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p.29-33,co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Bunting, Mary I., "Address to Alumnae," Radcliffe Quarterly, August 1968, p. 7, as reprinted in Dorothy Elia Howell's "A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 65, c0. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- Bradley, Jane "How to Have a Cake and Eat it, Too," from "College in a Yard II," edited by David Aloian, p. 141, co. 1985, President and Fellows of Harvard College.
- Delreal, Jose (September 13. 2012), "Past Tense: Radcliffe, Cheating, and the Honor Code", The Harvard Crimson, retrieved March 29, 2013
- Rich, Adrienne, "Issues of Feminine Survival," adapted from The Radcliffe Quarterly, March 1979, as reprinted in "The Women's Guide to Harvard," p.49, co. 2002, Harvard-Radcliffe Women's Leadership Project.
- Karabel, Jerome, "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, p. 442, co. 2005, Houghton Mifflin Co.
- Karabel, Jerome, "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, p. 511, co. 2005, Houghton Mifflin Co.
- Karabel, Jerome, "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, p. 442, co.2005, Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Howell, Dorothy Elia, A Century to Celebrate Radcliffe College, 1879-1979, p. 34, co. 1978, Radcliffe College.
- "Radcliffe: Merged and Ready". Harvard Magazine, Nov/Dec 1999
Books about Radcliffe
- Dowst, Henry Payson; John Albert Seaford (1913). Radcliffe College. H. B. Humphrey Company.. Brief text; content is mostly illustrations by John Albert Seaford Online page images and PDF at Google Books
- Radcliffe Institute For Advanced Study—Harvard University
- Her Two Lives The biography of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study's Founder by author Elaine Yaffe
- Radcliffe Crew