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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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Chapter 4. Unintended Consequences


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If Long College had little institutional name recognition, Kenyon’s Coordinate College for Women had no name at all—only a descriptor. Two years after its founding, Kenyon Provost Bruce Haywood wrote the board of trustees, stating, “It was never our intention that there should come into being here something called ‘The Coordinate College for Women.’” Haywood noted that the title “bespeaks the anonymous, the newly arrived, the unusual.”1 A current Kenyon website links the lack of a proper name to confusion surrounding the 1969 opening of a women’s college on Kenyon’s all-male campus.2 However, Perry Lentz, the Charles McIlvaine Professor of English (and Kenyon alumnus), contends that withholding the name was intentional. Kenyon hoped the new women’s college would provide a naming opportunity for a major donor like Henry C. Long—a wish that never materialized. Regardless, Lentz contends the decision to admit women was “of incalculable significance” in developing the character of Kenyon College.3

Old Kenyon

Like Hanover, Kenyon College was established to provide young men with a foundation for study and service in the Protestant clergy. Both colleges were founded in the early nineteenth century at remote locations, in states carved ← 99 | 100 → out of the Old Northwest Territory. However, women attended Hanover for 66 years before their 1947 transfer en masse to the new Long College, while Kenyon remained all-male until the first class of women arrived in 1969. The similarities and...

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