Coordinate Colleges for American Women

A Convergence of Interests, 1947-78

by Linda C. Morice (Author)
©2019 Textbook XVI, 262 Pages


Coordinate Colleges for American Women: A Convergence of Interests, 1947–78 explores the history of the coordinate college—a separate school of higher learning for women connected to an older, all-male institution. This book places special emphasis on three (previously all-male) liberal arts colleges located in the Midwest and upstate New York. They established women’s coordinate colleges in the years following World War II, but ended them by 1980, becoming fully coeducational. The author draws on new primary sources to show that, in each case, a coordinate college was created to meet the converging interests of the founding institution—not to improve the education of women. The work is set in the context of four major social movements during the mid-to-late twentieth century involving civil rights, student rights, antiwar protest, and women’s liberation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • Introduction
  • Notes
  • Part I: Engendering Change
  • Chapter 1. A Hybrid
  • Two Pathways
  • Mixed Education
  • Pioneering Coordinate Colleges
  • Coordination in the South and Midwest
  • An Evolving Experiment in the Twentieth Century
  • Establishing Coordinate Colleges in the Depression and War Years
  • Notes
  • Chapter 2. The World Turned Upside Down
  • War Clouds Over Campus
  • Women as a National Asset
  • Feeling the War’s Impact
  • The War’s Enduring Effects on Higher Education
  • A Hinge
  • Notes
  • Part II: Three Colleges
  • Chapter 3. A Bequest in Search of a Home
  • The Journey to Hanover
  • “Mixing” It Up
  • An Act of Will
  • All in the Family
  • Coming to Terms
  • A Greater Hanover
  • A Long Time Coming
  • A New Leader
  • The End of Long College for Women
  • Notes
  • Chapter 4. Unintended Consequences
  • Old Kenyon
  • Breaking with the Past
  • “Would You Want Your Sister to Attend This College?”
  • The End of the Coordinate College
  • Notes
  • Chapter 5. A Fine Cause
  • The Beginnings
  • Not for the Faint of Heart
  • The Home Front in Wartime and Beyond
  • Breaking the Mold
  • A Coordinate College is Born
  • Coordination Unravels
  • Notes
  • Part III: Getting to a New Place
  • Chapter 6. Joining the Parade
  • Princeton’s Choice
  • A Clear Trend
  • A Parallel Path
  • Many Pathways
  • The Protests
  • The Survivors
  • Notes
  • Chapter 7. Three Campuses Revisited
  • Hanover
  • Kenyon
  • Hamilton
  • Notes
  • Chapter 8. Conclusions
  • Contrasts
  • Commonalities
  • Final Thoughts
  • Notes
  • Appendix A: A Note on Sources
  • Daniel Fisher
  • Bruce Haywood
  • Samuel Babbitt
  • Notes
  • Appendix B: The Numbers
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

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Table 1. U. S. Higher Education Enrollment (in thousands), Fall 1869-Fall 1991

Table 2. Hanover and Long College Enrollments, 1930 through Present

Table 3. Kenyon and Coordinate College Enrollments, 1969 through Present

Table 4. Hamilton and Kirkland College Enrollments, 1968 through Present

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As the author of Coordinate Colleges for American Women, I am indebted to many people who made this book possible. First, I want to thank the staff of the Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. They helped me locate primary and secondary sources and enrollment data—as did several individuals at the three liberal arts colleges in my study. Included in this group are Jennifer Duplaga, Hanover College Archivist; Miranda Maxwell, Senior Director of Development at Hanover College; Abigail Miller, College and Digital Collections Archivist at Kenyon; Ellen Harbourt, Kenyon College Registrar; and Katherine Collett, Hamilton College Archivist.

As I gathered data, five alumnae of Long College for Women of Hanover College shared their recollections and/or assisted me in document retrieval. They are Betty Bernardoni McDowell, Sally Snowden Downey, Barbara Barnett Sheffield, Marcia Knox Ritter, and Susan R. Thompson. Some were able to locate diplomas of women graduates that differed from those awarded to men. In addition, Hanover alumnus George Durnell found a 1960s handbook that spelled out campus restrictions for female (but not male) students. Princeton alumnus Frank Hamsher furnished a 1968 report from his alma mater that compared the merits of coordination and full coeducation. ← xiii | xiv →

In writing my book, I was fortunate to benefit from my ongoing participation in a group of professors from universities in the St. Louis metropolitan region. We meet regularly to critique each other’s work. Within this group, Laurel Puchner (Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) deserves special recognition for generously giving her time at each stage of my book project. In this instance, and over the years, she has aided my growth as a writer and scholar. Other helpful colleagues are Louis M. Smith, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Education at Washington University in St. Louis; Ann Taylor, Dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Owen van den Berg, former Professor of Education at both the University of the Western Cape (South Africa) and National Louis University; and Jane Zeni, Professor Emerita of English and Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Professor Zeni had a unique perspective on my book project, since she attended Radcliffe when it was a coordinate college of Harvard.

As my manuscript was assessed, revised, and readied for publication, I benefited from the helpful suggestions of scholars who gave my work a blind review. Additionally, I received excellent support from Peter Lang Publishing through the work of Sarah Bode (Acquisitions Editor for Education), Michelle Smith (Assistant Editor), Megan Madden (Editorial Assistant), and Jennifer Beszley (Production Editor). I was also fortunate for the book’s inclusion in Peter Lang’s History of Schools and Schooling series. It gave me the opportunity to work with Alan R. Sadovnik and Susan F. Semel, two distinguished scholars who are Series Editors. I have long admired their work!

Lastly, and most importantly, I extend heartfelt thanks to my husband Jim for providing historical insights on World War II and its aftermath—and also editing copy and offering words of encouragement over an extended period.

It is my hope that all who contributed to Coordinate Colleges for American Women will have learned something new, and will derive satisfaction from the finished product.

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Linda C. Morice is Professor Emerita of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her research focuses on educational history, women’s history, and educational biography. She is the author of Flora White: In the Vanguard of Gender Equity (2017) and is co-editor, with Laurel Puchner, of Life Stories: Exploring Issues in Educational History through Biography (2014). Morice has also published articles in a number of academic journals including (among others) Gender and Education, History of Education, History of Education Review, and Educational Studies.

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This book began when I discovered a claim that the college I attended never existed. In trying to square that assertion with my experience, I uncovered a compelling (and under-researched) narrative on the history of women in U.S. higher education that became the focus of this book.

For four years I was an undergraduate at Long College for Women, a coordinate institution of Hanover—the first private college in Indiana. Although Hanover opened its doors to male students in 1827, Long began in 1947 and lasted a mere 31 years. During its brief life, the college graduated Carol Shields, who at age 59 won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her award-winning novel, The Stone Diaries, contained several autobiographical references—including the heroine’s attendance at, and graduation from, Long College for Women.1 Since Long women and Hanover men actually lived on the same campus and attended the same classes, one scholar studying Shields’ work suggested in 2003 that the Long College in The Stone Diaries was “a fictional construct.”2

In 2016 the State of Indiana cast doubt on the veracity of Long College for Women by noting in an official bicentennial publication that it “was a fiction set up to admit women to Hanover,” a liberal arts college.3 The facts suggest otherwise. Although Hanover was founded as a men’s college, women ← 1 | 2 → officially attended there from 1881 to 1947, the year Long College began. After Long merged with Hanover in 1978, women students attended Hanover College in a coeducational arrangement that continues up to the present.

I found more misinformation in a Wikipedia article linking the establishment of Long College to a lengthy dispute among Hanover trustees. The article reported that for several decades the trustees could not come to terms on the issue of coeducation—and in 1947 finally admitted women through a coordinate college, supported by the Henry C. Long estate. The article further alleged that before the founding of Long College, women “had only been allowed to take a limited number of courses” at Hanover.4 In fact, women continuously earned bachelor’s degrees from Hanover College between 1883 and 1947.

Grateful for my undergraduate grounding in the liberal arts, and invested in my work as a historian of education, I wanted to correct the printed inaccuracies about Long College. I was certain the coordinate college had existed, having been periodically reminded of that fact in speeches by the then-dean of women (who was also dean of Long College). My baccalaureate diploma gave further, tangible proof that Long College for Women was real. Still, I recognized some peculiarities about my matriculation as a Long student. I have no memory of ever applying to, or receiving an acceptance letter from, Long College; rather, I learned of my enrollment there when I arrived on the Hanover campus as a freshman. Upon beginning my research, I identified two other liberal arts colleges (one in the Midwest and the other in upstate New York) that, like Hanover, were established for men but created coordinate colleges for women after World War II. At one of the institutions, many entering women students were unaware (as I had been) that they were enrolled in a coordinate college.

In further exploring my connection to Long College, I discovered that it was part of a history of higher education where—in Kelly C. Sartorius’ words—“institutions, administered by white men for white male students, hollowed out a small space for women to attend college.”5 Like its peers, Long College bore witness to officials’ ongoing attempts to advance institutional interests in a society that marginalized women. As I gained more information about Long and other coordinate colleges, my initial inquiry evolved into a larger research project, culminating in this book.

Early in my research, I was struck by Long’s variance from widely-held beliefs about coordinate colleges for women in U.S. educational history. According to the dominant narrative, separate, all-female institutions ← 2 | 3 → connected to older, all-male colleges and universities were established largely in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They gained traction in the East where there were many single-sex institutions; however, the idea of coordinate colleges did not transfer to the nation’s heartland where coeducation was already thriving, having been introduced before the Civil War at numerous small colleges in the Midwest and rural New York. Interest in coordinate education was also tempered by the Morrill Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890, which furthered coeducation by facilitating the creation of large state universities that enrolled both female and male students. Eventually—in the late 1960s through the 1970s—most single-sex institutions in the East chose to adopt coeducation over coordinate education, in part because separating the sexes seemed impractical and somewhat anachronistic.

This description holds true for many coordinate colleges and the all-male institutions with which they were associated—for example, Radcliffe and Harvard, Barnard and Columbia, Pembroke and Brown, Jackson College for Women and Tufts, and New Jersey College for Women (later Douglass) and Rutgers. However, Long College differs from this paradigm, as do two other coordinates created by historically-male liberal arts colleges. Kenyon’s Coordinate College for Women in Ohio, and Kirkland College of Hamilton College in New York, were—like Long College—envisioned and established after World War II, a period that greatly differed from the time when the first coordinate colleges began. Both Kirkland and Kenyon’s Coordinate College were founded in the 1960s and—like Long—were defunct before 1980, having been incorporated into their institutions of origin. In each case the merger resulted in a larger, new entity that U.S. News and World Report today characterizes as a “National Liberal Arts College.”6 Currently Hanover, Kenyon, and Hamilton are among the 562 schools that the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education classifies as a Baccalaureate College. Schools in this category comprise 12.3 percent of postsecondary institutions and enroll 4.7 percent of degree-seeking students in the United States. Within the group of Baccalaureate Colleges, 246 schools (including Hanover, Kenyon, and Hamilton) have an Arts and Science Focus, according to the Carnegie Commission.7

While short-lived, the coordinate colleges founded by these three liberal arts institutions should not be dismissed as mere outliers in educational history. They provide a lens for understanding attitudes that college officials, alumni, and students at historically male schools had toward women—as well as the women’s own experiences in attending these schools. The fact that Yale and Princeton seriously considered establishing women’s coordinate ← 3 | 4 → colleges in the mid-to-late 1960s further demonstrates the significance of the model to historians of education. As Barbara Finkelstein once observed, “No matter how grand or elegant or how evocative or compelling their schemes, grand historical interpretations never become complex enough to integrate the whole of history.”8 With this sentiment in mind—and recognizing that decentralization is a defining characteristic of U.S. higher education—this book seeks to make a scholarly contribution through a study of three individual institutions of higher education.9

My work draws on a theory Derrick A. Bell, Jr. articulated after analyzing the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. Bell found that parties to the case briefly had a convergence of interests, making it inevitable that the Supreme Court would find segregated schools to be unconstitutional. During the Cold War, Brown enhanced U.S. credibility in its global competition with Communist countries to gain the support of people of color. Brown also gave black Americans needed assurance that the struggle for freedom in World War II could find meaning at home. Furthermore, the Brown decision was affirmed by whites who realized that segregation was impeding further (and potentially profitable) industrialization of the South and development of the Sun Belt. Bell concluded his analysis by noting that a dominant group will support justice when its members see there is something in it for them—and conversely, will not support justice if it is counter to their interests.10 As will be shown, decisions on whether a college was single-sex, coeducational, or in a coordinate relationship with another institution was primarily determined by the interests of the dominant institution and its constituents.

In conducting my research, I consulted archival material that included statements from alumnae of Kirkland College and Kenyon’s Coordinate College. I also read the recollections of women who were Hanover students during World War II, just before Long College’s founding. Additionally, I reviewed speeches, correspondence, board minutes, court records, reports, alumni bulletins, yearbooks, student handbooks, newspapers, and student publications. My research included institutional histories of Hanover, Kenyon, and Hamilton Colleges, as well as the autobiographies/memoirs of key administrators—including Samuel Babbitt, the first-and-only president of Kirkland College; Bruce Haywood, provost of Kenyon College; and Daniel Fisher, president of Hanover College. Finally, I reviewed numerous secondary sources to contextualize my research findings. Among the most important are Leslie Miller-Bernal’s writings on coordinate colleges, single-sex education, and coeducation.11 I also ← 4 | 5 → utilized Elizabeth A. Duffy and Idana Goldberg, Crafting A Class, which offers valuable insights on college admissions.12

Several books provided important historical context, including Linda Eisenmann, Higher Education for Women in Postwar America, 1945–1965,13 Nancy Weiss Malkiel, “Keep the Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation,14 Barbara Miller Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women,15 Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s,16 and Kelly C. Sartorius, Deans of Women and the Feminist Movement: Emily Taylor’s Activism. Finally, the histories of early U.S. coordinate colleges were very beneficial in my research. In each case I read the source carefully, looked for corroborations and differences, and identified themes that served as the basis for organizing the book and its chapters.

Coordinate Colleges for American Women is divided into three parts: “Engendering Change,” “Three Colleges,” and “Getting to a New Place.” Individual chapters are further delineated within those major divisions, as noted below.

Chapter One, “A Hybrid,” discusses the antecedents and structure of coordinate colleges for women, which proliferated in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The coordinate college was a compromise between single-sex and co-education, viewed by some as a means of allowing women to attend college without taking the perceived drastic step of mixing them with men. The chapter details the obstacles women faced in gaining admission to higher education, including hostility from male students and alumni; a widespread belief that women were intellectually and physically inferior to men; fears that higher education would undermine women’s role in society; and concerns that women students would diminish the quality and prestige of all-male institutions. While the founding of the early coordinate colleges was largely prompted by women’s rights advocates, additional influences emerged over time. They included a desire to corral women within an institution that was already coeducational; and an effort to cut costs by absorbing an independent women’s college into a larger institution. Aside from discussing broad historical developments, the chapter details the founding of specific coordinate colleges, which differed in goals, organizational structure, curricular programs, and geographical regions. (They also differed on the extent to which female students attended classes with—or remained separate from—male students.) Finally, the chapter explores the desire of some early coordinate colleges to remain obscure, to avoid alienating the all-male institutions on which they depended. The marginality of women in higher education remains a recurring theme throughout the book. ← 5 | 6 →


XVI, 262
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XVI, 262 pp. 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Linda C. Morice (Author)

Linda C. Morice is Professor Emerita in the Department of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She earned her Ph.D. from Saint Louis University.


Title: Coordinate Colleges for American Women