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Elizabeth Stoffregen May Papers

Identifier: MC-063

Scope and Contents

The manuscript collection is very specific relating to the years that Mrs. May was involved with Wheaton College in either capacity as Economics Professor, Academic Dean of Wheaton College, Dean of the College and as Acting President. Her later associations with the school, by serving on committees or in a fund raising capacity are also covered in detail. The documents cover Mrs. May’s association with Wheaton College from 1949 to 2001 in professional and personal correspondence, administrative materials, Wheaton publications, speeches, newspapers clippings, Christmas cards and letters and postcards.

The bulk of the collection covers the years between 1949 and 1964. The strength of the collection is the detailing of the day-to-day operations of Wheaton College in her various administrative and academic positions. Of particular importance are the documents and surveys related to Wheaton‘s expansion planned by Mrs. May during her tenure as Acting President in 1955 and as Dean of the College until 1964. Her later involvement with AAUW, Wolf Trap Center, and the Export-Import Bank, are only superficially mentioned.

The collection is divided into eight series: Academic Dean,Dean of the College,Acting President,Course/Academic Material and Lecture Notes,Speeches,Committees,Personal Correspondence,and Photographs and Objects.


  • 1949-2001


Access Restrictions

No restrictions. Open for research.


Elizabeth Stoffregen May retains copyright and scholars wishing to publish excerpts from material must obtain written permission from either Mrs. May, her designee, or the Archivist.


Early Life and Marriage

Elizabeth Stoffregen May was born in St Louis, Missouri, on April 25, 1907, the daughter of Carl H. Stoffregen, and Caroline (Stumpf) Stoffregen. Carl H. Stoffregen was a businessman involved in the coffee roasting business, which on May 26, 1911 formed the forerunner of today’s National Coffee Association.

She graduated from Smith College, MA in 1928 with honors in Economics. She did her postgraduate work at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1930-31. In 1931 she received her Ph.D., from the London School of Economics and Political Science. That same year she married Geoffrey May on September 22, 1931.

Upon returning to the United States Mrs. May taught at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was an economics professor from 1931 to 1939. During World War II, she left Goucher College to work for the federal government in Washington, D.C. She was an economic analyst at the Treasury Department from 1939-41, and a principal fiscal analyst at the Bureau of the Budget from 1941-47.

When Geoffrey May was appointed to the post-war aid mission to Greece, Elizabeth May accompanied him and worked as a contractor for the United States Mission for Aid to Greece, from 1947-48.

Wheaton College

In August 18, 1949 she was hired as Academic Dean at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts. She and Geoffrey May resided during the academic year at Wheaton’s Hollyhock House, and they spent the rest of the year at their home on West Bare Hill Road in Harvard, Massachusetts.

In addition to her administrative duties as Academic Dean, Mrs. May also taught two upper level economics classes, International Trade and Public Finance.

Elizabeth May served as Acting President for a 6-month period in 1956, while President A. Howard Meneely took a sabbatical. The Trustees formally designated a title change from Academic Dean to Dean of the College on November 10, 1956. The Trustees voted that in the absence or incapacity of the President, the Dean of the College would fulfill the duties of the President under the direction of the Board of Trustees.

In 1960-61 Mrs. May was appointed Wheaton’s Acting President following the death of President Meneely. She filled the post until the search for a new president concluded with the hiring of William C.H. Prentice. Wheaton College awarded Mrs. May an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1962.

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

In 1963, May was elected first vice-president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a post she filled from 1961- 69. She had been a member of AAUW since the 1930’s.

Retirement and Legacy

Geoffrey May died suddenly in February 1964. That same year, Elizabeth May left Wheaton College when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as the first female member of the board of directors of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. She remained at the board from 1964-69.

During this period she remained connected to Wheaton College by participating in the President’s Committee, an advisory group established by President Prentice. Although she retired from the committee in 1973, Mrs. May remained very active in the Wheaton community by participating in other committees, frequently visiting the campus, and making donations to the college including land in Wyoming. In 1983, the faculty lounge in Mary Lyon Hall was renamed The Elizabeth May Faculty Club additionally a portrait of Mrs. May also hangs in the faculty club in recognition of her contribution to the growth of Wheaton College.

Mrs. May formed strong lifelong associations at Wheaton, particularly with Jane Chidsey, Wheaton professor of Biology, who shared her home after Geoffrey May’s death. She worked closely with Leota Colpitts, the Dean of Students at Wheaton.

In 1977, May became a founding member of the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia, in association with Catherine Filene Shouse, Wheaton Class of 1918. She served as President of the International Federation of University Women from 1974-77. She is also a member of the Trustee Consortium of Universities, Washington.

She belonged to a number of clubs such as the Cosmopolitan in New York City, the Chilton in Boston, and University Women in London.

May also authored two books, Government, Business and the Individual in 1936 and International Control in the Nonferrous Metals in 1937 along with W.Y. Elliot.

In 1999, she was among the thirty alumnae honored by Smith College in celebration of its 125th year. In 2001, she was named ‘Citizen of Note’ for the town of Harvard, MA.

Mrs. May died in her home in West Bare Hill Road in Harvard, MA. of natural causes on March 27, 2011.



Graduated with A.B. from Smith College
Postgraduate work at Radcliffe College
Married Geoffrey May
Received Ph.D. from London School of Economics and Political Science
Economics Professor at Goucher College
Economic analyst for the Treasury Department
Principal fiscal analyst for the Bureau of the Budget
Private contractor with the American Mission for Aid to Greece
Consultant for the Committee for Economic Development
Hired at Wheaton College as Academic Dean
Appointed Dean of the College
Appointed Acting President
Elected vice-president of the AAUW
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Wheaton College
Geoffrey May dies
Board of Directors member for the U.S. Export-Import Bank
Founding member of Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia
Honored at Smith College as notable alumnae
Honored as ‘Citizen of Note’ in Harvard, MA.
Died in Harvard, MA.


3.6 Cubic Feet (9 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



The majority of the Elizabeth Stoffregen May papers focus on her interaction with Wheaton College. The documents are very specific relating to May’s various positions while at Wheaton College. The documents illustrate the different roles that Mrs. May filled while at Wheaton College as Academic Dean 1949-56, Dean of the College 1957-60, Acting President 1960-62 and as Professor of Economics. The documents span the years 1949 until 2001 but the bulk of the collection is in the years from 1949 to 1964. The collection concentrates on the daily administrative responsibilities of running a college. The documents consist mainly of administrative materials and correspondence. Additionally found within the collection are newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches and lecture notes from the courses she taught on International Trade and Public Finance.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Stoffregen May.

Related Materials

May chose to divide her papers between the Marion B. Gebbie Archives & Special Collections at Wheaton College, the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA.

Mrs. May also took part in an oral history project titled “Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project,” having been interviewed in 1981-1983. This archival material in the form of tapes and transcripts is found at the Schlesinger Library. A copy of the transcript is available in the Elizabeth Stoffregen May papers.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been physically removed from the collection and placed with the photograph collection.

Printing block and plaque have been physically removed from the collection and placed with the object collection.

Processing Information

Processed by: Teresa E. Maceira, Simmons College GSLIS Intern, May 2009

Encoded using Archivist Toolkit by: Teresa E. Maceira, Simmons College GSLIS Intern, May 2009

Inventory of the Elizabeth Stoffregen May Papers
Teresa E. Maceira, Simmons College GSLIS Intern
May 2009
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Marion B. Gebbie Archives and Special Collections Repository

Wheaton College
26 East Main Street
Norton Massachusetts 02766