Education of Women
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
Attitude of different sections of the United States toward coeducation and separate education of men and women
EDUCATION OF WOMEN
EDUCATION OF WOMEN
The higher education of women in America is taking placebefore our eyes on a vast scale and in a variety of ways.Every phase of this great experiment, if experiment we chooseto call it, may be studied almost simultaneously. Womenare taking advantage of all the various kinds of educationoffered them in great and ever-increasing numbers, and theperiod of thirty years, or thereabouts, that has elapsed sincethe beginning of the movement is sufficient to authorize usin drawing certain definite conclusions. The higher educationof women naturally divides itself into college educationdesigned primarily to train the mental faculties bymeans of a liberal education, and only secondarily, to equip thestudent for self-support, and professional or special education,directed primarily toward one of the money-makingoccupations.
Women’s college education is carried on in three differentclasses of institutions: coeducational colleges, independentwomen’s colleges and women’s colleges connected more orless closely with some one of the colleges for men.
1. Coeducation—Coeducation is the prevailing system ofcollege education in the United States for both men andwomen. In the western states and territories it is almostthe only system of education, and it is rapidly becoming theprevailing system in the south, where the influence of thestate universities is predominant. On the other hand, in theNew England and middle states the great majority of theyouth of both sexes are still receiving a separate collegeeducation. Coeducation was introduced into colleges inthe west as a logical consequence of the so-called Americansystem of free elementary and secondary schools.During the great school revival of 1830–45 and the ensuingyears until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, free4elementary and secondary schools were established throughoutNew England and the middle states and such westernstates as existed in those days. It was a fortunate circumstancefor girls that the country was at that time sparselysettled; in most neighborhoods it was so difficult to establishand secure pupils for even one grammar school and onehigh school that girls were admitted from the first to both.In the reorganization of lower and higher education that tookplace between 1865 and 1870 this same system, bringing withit the complete coeducation of the sexes, was introducedthroughout the south both for whites and negroes, and wasextended to every part of the west. In no part of thecountry, except in a few large eastern cities, was any distinctionmade in elementary or secondary education betweenboys and girls. The second fortunate and in like manneralmost accidental factor in the education of American5women was the occurrence of the civil war at the formativeperiod of the public schools, with the result of placingthe elementary and secondary education of both boys andgirls overwhelmingly in the hands of women teachers.In no other country of the world has this ever been thecase, and its influence upon women’s education hasbeen very great. The five years of the civil war, whichdrained all the northern and western states of men,caused women teachers to be employed in the publicand private schools in large numbers, and in the firstreports of the national bureau of education, organizedafter the war, we see that there were already fewer menthan women teaching in the public schools of the UnitedStates. This result proved not to be temporary, but permanent,and from 1865 until the present time not only theelementary teaching of boys and girls but the secondaryeducation of both has been increasingly in the hands ofwomen. When most of the state universities of the westwere founded they were in reality scarcely more than secondaryschools supplemented, in most cases, by large preparatorydepartments. Girls were already being educated withboys in all the high schools of the west, and not to admitthem to the state universities would have been to break with6tradition. Women were also firmly established as teachersin the secondary schools and it was patent to all thoughtfulmen that they must be given opportunities for higher education,if only for the sake of the secondary education ofthe boys of the country. The development of women’seducation in the east has followed a different course becausethere were in the east no state universities, and the privatecolleges for men had been founded before women were sufferedto become either pupils or teachers in schools. Theadmission of women to the existing eastern colleges was,therefore, as much an innovation as it would have been inEurope. The coeducation of men and women in colleges,and at the same time the college education of women, beganin Ohio, the earliest settled of the western states. In 1833Oberlin collegiate institute (not chartered as a college until1850) was opened, admitting from the first both men andwomen. Oberlin was at that time, and is now, hamperedby maintaining a secondary school as large as its collegedepartment, but it was the first institution for collegiateinstruction in the United States where large numbers ofmen and women were educated together, and the uniformlyfavorable testimony of its faculty had great influence onthe side of coeducation. In 1853 Antioch college, also inOhio, was opened, and admitted from the beginning menand women on equal terms. Its first president, HoraceMann, was one of the most brilliant and energetic educationalleaders in the United States, and his ardent advocacyof coeducation, based on his own practical experience, hadgreat weight with the public. From this time on it becamea custom, as state universities were opened in the far west,to admit women. Utah, opened in 1850, Iowa, opened in1856, Washington, opened in 1862, Kansas, opened in 1866,7Minnesota, opened in 1868, and Nebraska, opened in 1871,were coeducational from the outset. Indiana, opened asearly as 1820, admitted women in 1868. The state Universityof Michigan was, at this time, the most important westernuniversity, and the only western university well knownin the east before the war. When, in 1870, it opened itsdoors to women, they were for the first time in Americaadmitted to instruction of true college grade. The stepwas taken in response to public sentiment, as shown bytwo requests of the state legislature, against the will ofthe faculty as a whole. The example of the Universityof Michigan was quickly followed by all the other state universitiesof the west. In the same year women were allowedto enter the state universities of Illinois and California; in1873 the only remaining state university closed to women,that of Ohio, admitted them. Wisconsin which, since 1860,had given some instruction to women, became in 1874 unreservedlycoeducational. All the state universities of thewest, organized since 1871, have admitted women from thefirst. In the twenty states which, for convenience, I shallclassify as western, there are now twenty state universitiesopen to women, and, in four territories, Arizona, Oklahoma,Indiana and New Mexico, the one university of each territoryis open to women. Of the eleven state universities of thesouthern states the two most western admitted women first,as was to be expected. Missouri became coeducational asearly as 1870, and the University of Texas was opened in1883 as a coeducational institution. Mississippi admittedwomen in 1882, Kentucky in 1889, Alabama in 1893, SouthCarolina in 1894, North Carolina in 1897, but only towomen prepared to enter the junior and senior years, WestVirginia in 1897. The state universities of Virginia,Georgia and Louisiana are still closed. The one stateuniversity existing outside the west and south, that ofMaine, admitted women in 1872.
8The greater part of the college education of the UnitedStates, however, is carried on in private, not in state universities.In 1897 over 70 per cent of all the college students inthe United States were studying in private colleges, so thatfor women’s higher education their admission to privatecolleges is really a matter of much greater importance.The part taken by Cornell university in New York statein opening private colleges to women was as significantas the part taken by Michigan in opening state universities.Cornell is in a restricted sense a state university, inasmuchas part of its endowment, like that of the stateuniversities, is derived from state and national funds. Nevertheless,there is little reason to suppose that Cornellwould have admitted women had it not been for thegenerosity of Henry W. Sage, who offered to build andendow a large hall of residence for women at Cornelluniversity. After carefully investigating coeducation inall the institutions where it then existed, and especiallyin Michigan, the trustees of the university admittedwomen in 1872. The example set by Cornell was followedvery slowly by the other private colleges of the NewEngland and middle states. For the next twenty years thecolleges in this section of the United States admittingwomen might be counted on the fingers of one hand. InMassachusetts Boston university opened its department ofarts in 1873, and admitted women to it from the first;but no college for men followed the example of Boston until1883, when the Massachusetts institute of technology, themost important technical and scientific school in the state,and one