1833 Oberlin opens as coed college

   - first women degrees 1842


mid 1860s Iowa & Wisconsin, 1870s Michigan, Maine & Cornell.

1873 University of Chicago


Seven Sisters 

1837 Mary Lyon - Mount Holyoke (South Hadley, Mass.)

   - give female students "a new direction.”

   - 82.5% Holyoke graduates before 1850 taught school


1860 Matthew Vassar – Vassar (Poughkeepsie, NY)

"To build & endow a College for young women which shall be to them what Yale & Harvard are to young men."


Worry about education "unsexing" women

    "lest by too close an imitation of studies of ordinary colleges, we should impair womanliness in our students & encourage the formation of those mannish tastes & manners which are so disgusting to every right mind."

medical lecture room, geological collections, astronomical observatory.


1875 Henry Durant - Wellesley (outside Boston).

"What would Massachusetts be if our 9000 women teachers were all of them educated Christians?"

"we revolt against the slavery in which women are held by the customs of society - the broken health, the aimless lives, the subordinate position, the helpless dependence, and shams of so-called education.  The higher education of women is the cry of the oppressed slave, the assertion of absolute equality, the war of Christ." female faculty, second physics lab

1875 Sophia Smith  - Smith (Northampton, Mass)

"design to furnish for my own sex means & facilities for education equal to those which are afforded now to young men.  It is not my design to render my sex any the less feminine, but to develop as fully as may be the powers of womanhood & furnish women with means of usefulness, happiness & honor now withheld from them." 

"It is to preserve her womanliness that this College has been founded."  "More time will be devoted than in other colleges to aesthetical study, to the arts of drawing and the acquisition of musical skill." 

"Is it mere prejudice which causes so general a feeling of aversion to some women whose energy, heroism & ability we cannot but admire?  Has not their training repressed their amiable qualities & made them very frequently excessively conceited?"  Don’t want "the gentlewoman to be lost in the strongminded." 


   Said coeducation bad because of"animal passions":

"Would prudent parents who have large families of sons or daughters introduce into their homes large numbers of the opposite sex and go away for four years." 

"What if the same forces which develop all that is most manly in one sex repress & dwarf all that is most womanly in the other?" 


Treated student as "sensible, honorable woman", college "neither a nursery nor a nunnery."


1885 M. Carey Thomas - Bryn Mawr (PA).

   MCT Cornell, Univ. of Zurich;

Smith "a chance wasted - I dislike to think about it - those 250 girls getting husks - so clever, enthusiastic & so little chance.  Their education is in the hands of men who do not care.  There is not one strong woman in the place.  I am conscious of a strong impulse to wring the necks of most of the professors & teachers in Smith college."

   German innovations in education, graduate degrees


1878 Arthur Gilman – Radcliffe (Cambridge, MA)

Harvard Annex,"The Society for the Collegiate Instruction of women". 

"to afford to women opportunities for carrying their studies systematically forward further than it is possible for them now to do in this country, except possibly at Smith College."

"a number of professors & other instructors in Harvard College have consented to give private tuition to properly qualified young women who desire to pursue advanced studies in Cambridge.  No instruction will be provided of a lower grade than that given in Harvard College.”

"Our students quietly pursue their occupations as unnoticed as the daughters of any Cambridge residents.”


1889 Barnard (NY)

annex to Columbia


1891 over 10,000 women in colleges - over 33% all students.


1881 Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA)

"few ways outside the home in which such equipment of knowledge might be utilized to advantage.”


1907, 100 women's colleges,

1870: "as if the Almighty, in creating the female sex, had taken the uterus and built up a woman around it."

1900 president American Gynecology Society: "Many a young life is battered & forever crippled on the breakers of puberty; if it crosses these unharmed & is not dashed to pieces on the rock of childbirth, it may still ground on the ever-recurring shallows of menstruation, & lastly upon the final bar of the menopause ere protection is found in the unruffled waters of the harbor beyond reach of sexual storms."


"We cannot too emphatically urge the importance of regarding these monthly returns [menstruation] as period of ill health, when ordinary occupations are to be suspended or modified.  Long walks, dancing, shopping, riding & parties should be avoided at this time of month under all circumstances."


 Harvard doctor Edward Clarke

"A woman may be highly cultured & accomplished, but her future husband will discover too late that he has married a large outfit of headaches & backaches instead of a woman fitted to take up the duties of life."

"Women beware, you are on the brink of destruction.  You have hitherto been engaged in crushing your waists; now you are attempting to cultivate your mind.  You have been merely dancing all night in the foul air of the ballroom; now you are beginning to spend your mornings in study.  Beware - science pronounces that the woman who studies is lost."


1895 study only 28% women college grads married, compared to 80% total women.

"Colleges may come to be training stations for the sterile woman - aunt, maiden, nun, schoolteacher or unmarried woman."

Concern – eugenics (“good in birth”)


1886 study showed 78% college women good or excellent health

1900 study showing college women had healthier kids.


Wellesley prove college makes women "stronger in body as well as in mind." 

"large gymnasium where students are instructed in calisthenics." "Few of us who were put through our course in the little old cramped & battered College Hall gymnasium have ever worn unnatural shoes, gone deliberately without sleep, or grown round-shouldered without a guilty sense of having fallen below Miss Hill's standard of intelligent living."


"women who will make the next generation strong, who are strong themselves & able to cope with the struggles of the workaday world."  

team sports "develop a young girls' character while she develops her muscles."

"Overstraining might defeat the goal of skill & grace in sports.  What we aim at is to keep the girls physical beings on a par with their intellectual beings.”


Dudley Sargent - data on over 10,000 men & women

- charts of "normal" body proportions.


Catherine Beecher: a "perfectly healthy woman" was one "who can through the whole day be actively employed on her feet in all kinds of domestic duties without injury, & constantly & habitually has a feeling of perfect health & perfect freedom from pain."


Ladies' Physiological Institute of Boston 1848, over 450 members


"to promote among women a knowledge of the human system, the laws of life & health, & the means of relieving sickness & suffering."

speakers from Boston Female Medical College

criticism – women’s study of body was an "abomination, inasmuch as they excite a vulgar curiosity to see & hear things that only belong to professional eyes & ears."

"specimens appertaining to the delicate subjects of conception, gestation, manual & instrumental labor, deformed genitals have been demoralizing & mischievous."


"able-bodied womanhood". 

Dio Lewis: 1874 "Beauty in woman is, in considerable part, a matter of health."

"the noblest women I have personally known were 'regular tom-boys' in their girlhood." shouldn't be upset if a girl "breaks through the trammels of propriety, rides the saddle astride, climbs fences & trees, joins a baseball club, or acquires distinction in any roistering game."

A "quiet & staid, prim & nice & proper" girl" is not "likely to accomplish anything very grand in this world"; it was the tomboys more likely to grow into "strong womanhood". 


Dress reform  - Bloomer dress

"Imagine her in a full black satin frock cut off at the knees, with Turkish trousers of the same material.  I have seen scarecrows that did credit to farmer boys’ ingenuity, but never one better calculated to scare all birds, beasts & human beings." 

Stanton: "we put on the new style for greater freedom, but what is physical freedom compared with mental bondage?  By all means have my new dress made long."

 Dio Lewis: "the real but unconscious pleasure with which men regard women with little feet, little waists & little figures, is that these fix her dependence.  A woman with contracted feet, waist & size may fret a man by her nervousness, but she can never seriously challenge his authority.  Many a man would prefer to sit up half the night to support a helpless wife than to hear from a strong helpful one a demand for a fair division of the family treasury."


- Maria Mitchell – Vassar (1818-1889)

     1847 new comet

first woman member American Academy     of Arts & Sciences, 1848 

first woman American Association for the Advancement of Science

Vassar "best educated women in the world." 

"the perceptive faculties of women are more acute than those of men.  Women would perceive the size, form & color of an object more readily & would catch an impression more quickly.  The training of girls (bad as it is) leads them to develop these faculties.  The fine needlework & the embroidery teach them to measure small spaces.  The same delicacy of eye & touch is needed to bisect the image of a star as to piece delicate muslin.  The small fingers too come into play with a better adaptation to delicate micrometer screws."