Bentley Archives Exhibit: The Bentley Student Experience

Now on view in the RSM Art Gallery is The Bentley Student Experience, an exhibit of archival photographs and documents showcasing 100 years of student life at Bentley University.

The Bentley Student Experience
from the Bentley University Archives
June 24 – August 2, 2019

Students cheer on Bentley in the stands at a school sporting event.

Student Affairs at Bentley evolved as they did at colleges and universities across the country, though perhaps a bit more slowly as a result of Bentley’s status as an urban, “street-car school” that offered the basics to students. Once Bentley relocated to its spacious Waltham campus, the student experience steadily began to resemble that of a traditional residential college.

The Bentley Student Experience exhibit is not limited to student life narrowly defined as activities and clubs; but is intended to showcase all aspects of what has contributed to being a student at Bentley for the past century – in the classroom, in the residence halls, commuting by streetcar or on Route 128, playing a sport, serving the community, meeting someone with a drastically different background, and more.

Also available for online viewing is a companion online exhibit and a selection of videos from the Bentley archives dating back to the 1950s.

Special Hours & Activities for Bentley Reunion, Saturday June 2

Looking Back with Nostalgia
Join us for a trip down memory lane, courtesy of the Bentley Archives!
Bentley University Reunion Weekend
Saturday, June 2  |  9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Welcome back to campus, Bentley alumni, family, and friends!

We invite you to stop in to the library to view two Bentley Archives exhibits that celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bentley’s arrival in Waltham and talk with the University’s archivist, Jaimie Fritz. The exhibits—“Waltham Campus” and “Bentley Milestones”—will be on display in study rooms 102 and 103. Perhaps you can help Jaimie identify documents and photographs! If you’d like to bring your own Bentley memorabilia, we will scan or photograph your items for the Archives. You’ll also have the opportunity to make your own souvenir button.

While you’re here, take a stroll around the library to view our spaces and collections. (If you graduated before 2006 the building will look quite different!) We’re happy to answer any questions you have. Enjoy your visit and have a great Reunion Weekend!

Art Gallery Exhibit – Leading & Learning: A Century of Women at Bentley

archival photo of women in the classroom
Now on display in the RSM Gallery is “Leading & Learning: A Century of Women at Bentley.” This exhibit, curated by the Bentley University Archives, explores over one hundred years of women’s achievements at our institution. It is on view in the library from 3/14/2018 – 4/22/2018.

Please also join us for an exhibit reception on Wednesday, March 21st from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Enjoy snacks and refreshments, make a commemorative button, and discuss women’s history at Bentley.  No RSVP needed, drop in as you are able.

About the Exhibit

In 1918, women were first offered admission to Bentley as a response to the large number of college-aged men drafted to fight in WWI. After the war ended Bentley again became a single-sex institution, although many women were still working diligently in Bentley’s administration. Prompted by another war, admission of women resumed in 1942. Since then, women have been learning, working and teaching at Bentley and have made an immeasurable impact on our campus.

This exhibit presents a chronological narrative of some of the activities and achievements of women over the course of Bentley’s history. As you view the exhibit either in person or online, we encourage you to think critically about the context in which these events occurred. What opportunities did women of various backgrounds have in our country over the last century? How was this the same or different at Bentley?

We hope this exhibit will be the beginning of a campus-wide conversation about historical narratives and recorded memory. Traditionally, the accomplishments and opinions of women and members of other underrepresented groups have often gone unrecorded. It is partly because of this fact that any exhibit discussing women at Bentley cannot be all-encompassing. We have done our best to provide a broad overview of women’s progress at Bentley, but we acknowledge many archival silences as well.

To help us create a richer picture of Bentley history – and to ensure that records from our current time are similarly robust – please consider donating photographs, documents, and items of memorabilia to the Bentley Archives. Tell us about your unique experiences in the Bentley community, and suggest ideas for other groups whose histories you would like to explore further.

If you have comments, questions, or suggestions please email Jaimie Fritz, University Archivist, at

To view the online version of this exhibit and additional multimedia content, please visit

October 4th is #AskAnArchivist Day!

#AskAnArchivistIt’s that time of year again – October 4th is #AskAnArchivist Day! This is the day when archivists across the country (and the globe) tell everyone more about what kind of work they do, and the types of interesting material you can find in archives. Below are some FAQ’s with information about the Bentley Archives. If you want to know more about any of these topics, find us on social media and ask your question using #AskAnArchivist. You can also email your question to  Want to see photos of campus or students in a certain time period? Curious to find out more about Bentley’s early days in Boston? Ask us to find out!

What is an archive? What’s in the Bentley Archives?

There are lots of ways to describe archives but essentially they are repositories for items of historical value that relate to a common topic. The Bentley Archives preserves the historic records of (you guessed it) Bentley University! We have historical papers and objects documenting all 100 years of life and learning at Bentley. These items are preserved and organized so that people can use them for research – although archives material cannot be checked out like library books. You can find out more on our Archives LibGuide.

Can I use the collections in the Bentley Archives?

Yes! If you have a specific idea or project in mind, or if you know what kind of historical items you’d like to see, please email If you’d like to get a better sense of the types of material you can access, a good place to start is our Archives Subject Guide. We are always happy to help identify photos, documents, or objects that might be helpful in your work. You’ll need an appointment to view material in the Archives, so try to send in requests early and we can work with you to get history into your hands!

Where can I look at material from the Bentley Archives online?

You can view all of our online exhibits on the archives website! If you’d like to see a collection of historic photographs from the Bentley Archives, you can view them online at Digital Commonwealth. If you need help searching through images, or if you have any other questions about our online material, please let us know.

Where else can I explore & interact with archival material online?

There are lots of great places to explore and contribute to archival research online. Many are linked in our Online Volunteering LibGuide, and a few highlihts are included below.

  • NYPL Labs is the homepage for digital projects from the New York Public Library. You can view and search through digitized material, or participate in research and information-gathering projects like “Building Inspector” – where you help to update and correct historic maps.
  • Online Exhibits from the U.S. National Archives can be a good place to start browsing through such a vast collection. You can also help transcribe and ID documents on their Citizen Archivist
  • The World Digital Library lets you search collections from over 190 different countries, and to browse featured items related to world history.
  • Beyond Words from the Library of Congress digital collections lets you explore historic newspapers while helping to identify and caption illustrations.
  • Lastly, the Knitting Reference Library from the University of Southampton. This quirky collection contains Victorian texts about knitting, historic knitting patterns, and more. This collection is hosted via the Internet Archive – where you can explore many other archival collections as well!

Can I donate material to the Bentley Archives?

Yes! Read our FAQs about donation. We’ll also be reaching out to faculty, staff, and students this year to identify and collect material for the Archives. If you have personal or family records (non-Bentley related) that you want to preserve, you may be interested in our page about Caring for Archival Material.

Don’t forget to send us your questions on Wednesday, October 4th, and of course you can always contact us year-round at!

Birthday Celebration! Time Capsule Viewing & Letter-Writing: Tues. 2/28, 12-4

By now you probably know that Bentley is celebrating its historic centennial year. But you may not know that we have some important milestones coming up– this week marks the official founding of Bentley University, and the birthday our founder Harry C. Bentley!

Harry C. Bentley was born on February 28th, 1877 in Connecticut. He discovered a passion for business in his youth, and by the time he reached his 30’s he was a successful teacher, writer, and businessman. On February 26th, 1917 he held the first class at what would soon be called the “Bentley School of Accounting and Finance.” Turning 40 and starting your own school in the same week – quite an accomplishment!

To honor both of these historic dates, we’re planning an all-day birthday celebration across campus on Tuesday, February 28th.  At the library, we’ll be using the day to honor and explore Bentley’s past. From 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday you can visit Room 101 on the main level to see the contents of the 1992 time capsule, and the video that students produced to go along with it. There are letters from student organizations, t-shirts, memorabilia, photos, and more to browse through. While you’re here, you can also write a letter to your future self that will be stored in the Archives and given to you at a future Bentley Reunion!

If you’d like to learn more about the early history of Bentley, and even get to hear Mr. Bentley’s voice, see our new Archives Birthday Wishes web exhibit.

In this video, you can hear remarks delivered by Harry Bentley at Commencement in 1950.

You’re Invited! Reception for Centennial Exhibit, Wed. 1/18 at 12:30pm

Please join us at the opening reception for the second Bentley centennial exhibit – The Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham – on Wednesday, January 18, at 12:30 p.m. Trustee emeritus and Centennial Committee chairman, George Fantini ‘64, will offer brief remarks.  Light refreshments will be served. We hope to see you there!

Library clock tower arrives
“The Growth of the Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham”
On view in the RSM Art Gallery, January 17 – March 5, 2017

About the exhibit:

The Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham traces the university’s history from a small room in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood to the sprawling suburban campus we know today. Find out what life was like for Bentley students in the early decades of the 20th century, discover how Bentley’s leaders made the bold decision to move to Waltham, and get a glimpse of “Cedar Hill” before our now iconic buildings were constructed.  A wealth of new video content from the Bentley Archives will premiere with this exhibit. Gallery visitors can use the new interactive viewing tablet to watch founder Harry C. Bentley give a speech, see construction workers lay foundation for the Waltham campus, and view what the dormitories looked like in the 1980’s.

Now Showing: “The Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham”

The Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham
Bentley University Centennial Exhibit
January 17 – March 5,  March 2, 2017 [Note new closing date]

Opening Reception
Wednesday, January 18 at 12:30 p.m.
Remarks by trustee emeritus and Centennial Committee chairman George Fantini ‘64

The Historical Subcommittee is proud to present the second in a series of three Centennial exhibits in the RSM Art Gallery. The Bentley Campus: From Boston to Waltham traces the university’s history from a small room in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood to the sprawling suburban campus we know today.

Find out more about what life was like for Bentley students in the early decades of the 20th century – the classrooms on Boylston Street, early dormitories on Commonwealth Avenue, and the ever-present sound of the Prudential Center being built! Discover how Bentley’s leaders made the bold decision to move to Waltham, and get a glimpse of “Cedar Hill” before our now iconic buildings were constructed.

This exhibit is now interactive, thanks to the addition of a video viewing tablet located in the gallery. Come see historic footage of our founder Harry C. Bentley and hear him give a speech! Watch as construction workers lay foundation for the Waltham campus, or see what dormitories looked like in the 1980’s. A wealth of new footage from the Bentley Archives will premiere with this exhibit.

George Fantini ’64, trustee emeritus and chairman of the Centennial Celebration, will offer brief remarks at an opening reception for the exhibit on Wednesday, January 18 at 12:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. We hope you can join us!

To view an online version of this exhibit, please visit the Bentley Archives website.

You’re Invited! “Bentley Leaders” Reception with Gloria Larson, 9/14 @ 4pm

Please join President Gloria Cordes Larson for the opening reception of Bentley Leaders, the first of three centennial year exhibits chronicling the history of Bentley University. The reception will begin at 4:00 p.m. in The RSM Art Gallery. Light refreshments will be served.

Bentley Leaders exhibit case
The Bentley Leaders exhibit is on view in the RSM Art Gallery through October 26, 2016.

While this exhibit offers an introduction to many important individuals, there are countless more that are worthy of note. An additional group of Bentley Leaders have been profiled in a companion exhibit that is available online through the Bentley Archives website. Please visit the two online exhibits, Bentley Leaders and Bentley Leaders: Firsts