The Entretiens (symposiums) de Pontigny at Mount Holyoke were a series of three summer gatherings held at the College from 1942-1944. The gatherings were modeled on the Decades, ten day discussion meetings, founded in 1910 and held in Pontigny, France until the German occupation during World War II. In 1942 a committee began exploring the possibility of continuing the conference in the United States. Members of this committee were Jacques Maritain, Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes President; Gustave Cohen, Dean of Humanities at the Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes; Helen Elizabeth Patch, chair of the French Language and Literature Department at Mount Holyoke College; Jean Andre Wahl, professor at the Sorbonne; Mrs. Raymond de Saussure, and Pierre Guedenet, a French professor at Mount Holyoke. With the support of the Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes and Mount Holyoke College President Roswell Ham, the first conference was held at Mount Holyoke in the summer of 1942. For three consecutive summers European and American intellectuals, musicians, artists, and writers attended these conferences. Discussions concerned poetry, literature, anthropology, diplomacy, music, science, and cinema. Topics included "Literature and the Idea of Crisis," "Problems of American music," "Liberty and Authority," "The Responsibility of Literature in the World Crisis," and "The Place of the Spiritual in a World of Property." The conferences also featured performances of classical and modern music by many notable musicians. After the liberation of France in 1944, the Entretiens do Pontigny resumed in that country.
From the guide to the Entretiens de Pontigny records MS 0768., 1942-1945., (Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections)