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Coordinate Colleges for American Women

A Convergence of Interests, 1947-78


Linda C. Morice

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.

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Appendix A: A Note on Sources


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In writing Coordinate Colleges for American Women, I consulted many primary sources, including three of special note. Each describes the author’s role in admitting women to an all-male, liberal arts college. The earliest, published in 1909, is A Human Life: An Autobiography with Excursuses. Its author, Daniel Webster Fisher, was president of Hanover College during the school’s transition from single-sex to coeducational status. The other two sources were published nearly a century later, in 2006. Bruce Haywood, author of The Essential College, was dean and provost of Kenyon when female students entered a coordinate college there. Limited Engagement, by Samuel Fisher Babbitt, depicts his service as the first-and-only president of Kirkland College, Hamilton’s coordinate institution for women.

While Daniel Fisher presented his entire life in an autobiography, Haywood and Babbitt chose a different genre. Each composed a memoir, described by Nigel Hamilton as a literary form that came into vogue during the second half of the twentieth century. In How To Do Biography: A Primer, Hamilton explains that the memoir emerged after World War II “with the approaching end of censorship and with battles raging over civil rights, gay rights, decolonization and feminism.”1 He adds: ← 201 | 202 →

World War II—which affected civilians as well as soldiers—had opened the floodgates to reminiscences of war in all theatres and in all dimensions … [I]n the Western democratic nations … there had been a...

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