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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 8. Conclusions


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When Hanover, Kenyon, and Hamilton officials established women’s coordinate colleges, they drew on a tradition that began with the 1869 founding of Girton College at the University of Cambridge in England. The tradition continued in the United States into the early twentieth century as many men’s colleges admitted women to separate (but connected) schools, thereby avoiding full coeducation. Some of the early coordinate colleges were founded to expand women’s educational opportunities; others were established to curtail their educational opportunities, previously granted. During the post-World War II era, officials at the three liberal arts schools examined here created coordinate colleges to serve their institutional interests. In Hanover’s founding of Long College, Kenyon’s establishment of its Coordinate College, and Hamilton’s creation of Kirkland College, the primary purpose was not to improve women’s education. Albert Parker wanted a coordinate college to access an untapped bequest to secure Hanover’s future. Bruce Haywood hoped coordination would bring “salvation in old ideas,” resulting in greater enrollment and revenue for Kenyon.1 Robert McEwen thought a coordinate college could jar Hamilton out of curricular stagnation, moving it into the modern age. These and other interests converged to create three coordinate colleges for women that largely achieved the institutional objectives of their male founders. ← 191 | 192 →


The admission of women to a previously-all-male college or university is often viewed as a reform. However, Kirkland was the only coordinate college among the three to pursue a...

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