From 1933-1992, Barnard College owned a campsite in Westchester County, 36 miles from Manhattan. The camp provided weekend retreats to Barnard students and alumnae. Visitors stayed in a rustic cabin (which became formally known as “Holly House” in 1964), and participated in hiking, skiing, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
History of the Barnard Camp/Holly House
In the early 1920s, students began spending weekends at various campsites, hoping for some time away from the pressures of New York City. With the success of these weekends, many people began petitioning for a permanent camp that the college could call its own. Barnard alumnae eventually raised enough money to purchase ten acres of land in Westchester County, only 36 miles from the college itself.
Barnard Camp’s formal opening took place on October 15, 1933, quickly becoming a popular weekend destination for students and alumnae alike. Visitors stayed in a cabin where they cooked their own meals, pumped their own water, and slept in bunk beds in stove-heated rooms. During its early years, students could take part in the annual June Camp Training Course, where six students each from the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes could learn various leadership skills. Some June Course participants would then be chosen to become members of Barnard’s camp committee, helping plan camp weekends. The camp grew to 20 acres of land in 1938 after an additional alumnae purchase. In 1964, honoring the retirement of Physical Education Department chairman Margaret Holland, Barnard Camp’s cabin was officially named “Holly House”.
Camp popularity began to fade by the mid 1950s, with the 1961-1962 camp report stating that “apparently few are interested in spending a weekend of group living with girls, especially when there are chores and some discomfort”. In response, the camp committee attempted to modernize its facilities; however, the college’s budget meant that the plan was not feasible for the time being. Other difficulties also may have detracted students in following years, such as a problem with stray dogs on a neighboring property in 1974. Barnard Camp was sold in 1992, though the reason why is not entirely clear. Barnard Archive’s collection contains materials from the camp’s initial planning and fundraising through 1980, twelve years before the camp was sold.
Boxes 1-3 contain various documents, brochures, and maps related to Barnard Camp. This includes (but is not limited to) annual camp reports, board minutes, fund raising records, correspondence, inventories, policies, precedence reports, and schedules. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Boxes 4-6 contain scrapbooks of photos from Barnard Camp weekends. The earliest photos were taken in 1928, before Barnard acquired a permanent camp. The photos continue through to the late 1940s/early 1950s.
Boxes 7-10 contain logs of Barnard Camp’s June Leadership Courses from 1934-1940, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, and 1953. These annual logs served as journals of the June Course experiences, providing camper names, lighthearted (and often illustrated) daily diaries, songs, photographs, meal lists, and humorous anecdotes about the campers.
Box 10 also contains license plates used by the Barnard Athletics Department van.
Box 11 contains guest books from 1934-1980. In these books, Barnard Camp visitors would record their names, addresses, dates stayed at camp, graduating classes, and remarks on their stays. This box also contains a blank leather booklet with a picture of a bear on the cover.
This collection is partially processed. A preliminary inventory is available in the archives; contact the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located on-site.
Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Barnard College Archives. The Barnard College Archives approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Barnard College Archives
Lehman Hall, Room 19
New York, NY 10027