THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
On the Expediency of receiving Young Women as Students in Columbia ·College.
FROM THE REPORT OF. I879·
The condition of the College is now such as to justify the suggestion of the question whether its advantages should not be opened to young women as well as to young men. This question has been brought to the attention of the Trustees heretofore by outside parties, and the re· ception which it met has been such as to indicate that the minds of the Board are not favorably prepossessed in re· gard to it. There has been hitherto, however, no room for considering it upon its merits ; for, whether regarded favorably or not, so long as the College was confined within its recent narrow accommodations, the measure has been impracticable. Not that the admission of young women requires any considerable. provision of space great er than that which is necessary for young men only; but that, in arriving at and leaving the building, they need their separate retiring-rooms and cloak-rooms, and no apartments could be found in the old building suitable for this purpose. That difficulty no longer exists. The measure has become practicable. There can be no ·harm in inquiring whether it is not also expedient.
Many considerations suggest themselves which make in its favor. In: the first place, there can be no doubt that, among many of our most judicious thinkers, and possibly with even a majority, there exists at this time a profound conviction that, in the interests of society, the mental culture of women should be not inferior in char acter to that of men. The condemnation of that kind of female education which in past years has been too prev alent-in which the useful has been made subordinate to the ornamental, and what are called accomplishments have taken the place of solid acquisitions-is all but uni versal. The demand has been made, and its reasonable ness has been generally conceded, that the· same educa tional advantages should be offered to young women which young men enjoy. But when the question is raised as to how that demand shall be met, there is no longer found to prevail the same unanimity.
One obvious method is to improve the female schools. Of such institutions there are, and have always been, a sufficient number; but the fault of most of these is that they furnish the merely superficial and ornamental educa tion of which complaint is made. Such cannot be im proved except by reconstruction, for their instructors can not rise above their own level, and their proper level is indicated by the teaching they have been accustomed we give.
Another method is to create colleges for young women identical in form with the existing colleges for young men, embracing in the scheme of instruction the same subjects in the same order, and· conferring ‘at the end of the course the same academic degrees. Examples of this kind of institution are seen at Vassar College, in this State, and at Rutgers Female College, in this city. The objection to these is that they cannot, or at least in gen eral will not, give instruction of equal value, though it may be the same in name, with that furnished to young men in the long-established and well-endowed colleges of highest repute in the country; and that it is unjust to young women, when admitting their right to liberal education, to deny them access to the best.
In England the reasonableness of this objection has been tacitly admitted by the creation of a college for women in the vicinity of Cambridge, in which the studies are the studies of the Cambridge colleges, and the teachers are the teachers of the same colleges. Girton College has now been for a number of years in existence, and of its success the most glowing accounts have been made public. So encouraging have been the results of the experiment that, more recently, the University of Oxford has been enlisted in a similar undertaking, funds having been raised for the endowment of a college for young women in the town of Oxford itself. In our own coun try, Harvard University commenced, six years ago, a system of examinations for women, held periodically “in Cambridge, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, by committees of the Faculty (the candidates . pursuing their studies at .home), in twelve different sub jects, viz. : English, French, German, Latin, Greek, arith metic, algebra, geometry, physics, botany, physical geography, and history. More recently the same University has instituted a regular course of college instruc tion for women, to be carried on at Cambridge by the officers of the University on the same plan as at Girton College, or at the Oxforcl College for Women, in Eng land. . I
. These several modes of solving the problem are founded on the idea that, while it· is just that equal educational advantages should be accorded to young persons of both sexes, it is not expedient that the two classes should receive instruction in common. In our country, however, this idea is not by any means universally prevalent. On the other hand, in more than half the colleges of the United States young women are admitted on the same terms as young men, and attend the same instructors in the same lecture-halls at the same hours. The usage is more general in the Western than in the Eastern States. But we have two conspicuous examples, the Cornell and the Syracuse Universities, in our own State ; and there is in Massachusetts, the Boston University; and one in Connecticut, the Wesleyan. Yale College admits young women to her School of the Fine Arts. n the Michigan University, which, in numbers and in standing, ranks among the leading educational institutions of the coun try, out of a total of more than four hundred in the School of Letters and Science, between seventy and eighty are young women. The colleges of the country, excluding. those under the control of the Roman Catholic Church, are, according to the latest enumeration, three hundred and fifty-five in number. Of these, one hundred and eighty-three are open to students of both sexes.
In many of these colleges the students are permanently resident, separate buildings being provided for the female students. The SAGE College at the Cornell University, founded by the liberal friend of education whose nap1e it bears, is a splendid edifice erected for this purpose. In others, as at Syracuse, the students of both sexes, with few exceptions, attend at the college only; during the day, and out of class hours reside at home or in private families. This arrangement relieves the instructors of responsibility for general supervision, and leaves no room for the occurrence of troublesome questions of discipline.
As to the practicability of adopting this plan in our college, no question will be raised; but doubts may be entertained as to its expediency. It would be difficult, nevertheless, to suggest any reason which will bear very close examination why it should not be adopted. The admission of young women into the classes would not in any manner interfere with or embarrass the processes of instruction as they are now conducted. No modification of the arrangements of the class-rooms would be necessary. So many more units would simply be added to the number, and so many more names to the class-roll. In every scholastic exercise the young women would be regarded as the young men are regarded-merely as students.
It cannot be denied that there is, in some minds, a feeling of aversion to this proposition which does not seek to defend itself by reasons, but inclines those who entertain it to dismiss the subject without argument. This is probably owing principally to the fact that the admission of young women into colleges is an innovation upon immemorial usage. The spirit of conservatism never fails to rise up against novelties, no matter how cogent I the arguments by which they may be recom mended. That it is this spirit mainly which opposes the opening of colleges to women, rather than anything inherently objectionable in the proposition itself, is made quite evident by the fact that no such opposition manifests itself to the association of students of both sexes in the academies and high-schools with· .which the countty abounds, many of which profess to teach the same subjects as the colleges, to the same extent, and to pupils of similar ages, differing chiefly in the fact that they have not a determinate course of four years, and do not confer degrees in arts.
The opposition to the proposal which has its source in the feeling here referred to is no doubt the most serious of the difficulties in the way of its adoption, simply because feeling is not controlled by judgment, but remains often unchanged after the understanding is convinced.
- Objections are, however, sometimes made to the plan which appeal to the reason. Thus there are those who hold that the average female intellect is inferior in native capacity to that of the stronger sex, and hence infer that the association of the sexes in the same classes will have· a tendency to depress the standard of scholarship. It is unnecessary here to go into the general argument upon
this point ; for it is not in the effort to master those elementary facts of knowledge-or principles of science which form the material and the instrument of early mental training that the relative ultimate strength of different minds can be tested. There is in some intellects a quality of activity, of quickness of perception, and readiness of combination, which, within given limits of time, is more than a compensation for more slowly moving power. And this is a quality which observation has proved to be peculiarly characteristic of the female mind·. Similar observation, moreover, has pretty well established that, as a rule, girls are more diligent in study than boys-a fact which has an important influence on the record of their scholarship.
The experience of institutions where this point has been practically tested proves, moreover, that the presence of young women as members of college classes tends to a result directly the reverse of that which the objection supposes, and has the effect to raise rather than to depress the average scholarship of the classes to which they be long. In regard to this matter, the results derived· i’fom a comparison of the record made in Cornell University during the years preceding and the years following the opening at that institution of the SAGE College for Women, which have been kindly furnished to the under signed by Vice-President Russel, are exceedingly interesting as well as instructive.
In order to understand the significancy of these, it is necessary to bear in mind that in every college a larger or smaller proportion of the matriculates of a given year usually drop off before the close, for a variety of reasons, among which are failure of health, failure of means!the disciplinary acts of the Faculty, and loss of position in consequence of defective scholarship. All these causes, except the last, are pretty uniform in their operation, and, with the same exception, the effect of all of them united is never very considerable. The· variations, then, in the total magnitudes of the losses, when successive years are compared with each other, must be mainly due to the operation of the cause last mentioned, the varying numbers who fail from deficient scholarship.
Now it appears that, at Cornell University, during the years which preceded the admission of young women the losses during the year averaged twenty-six per cent, or more than a quarter of the entire number of the matriculates, per annum, while for the seven years that have passed since that date the losses have averaged only six teen per cent per annum. During this latter period the standard of attainment for admission has been twice raised, and the term examinations have been made stead ily more and more rigorous. Either of these causes might have been supposed likely to increase the proportion of losses, yet no such effect has followed from both of them together. It has been added, in a statement by an officer of the University recently printed, .that “these seven years have witnessed a marked improvement in the quality of the whole institution;” and further-a very noteworthy fact-that during the entire period “no young woman has been dropped from the rolls through failure at ex amination.” So far as the experience of this institution is concerned, the evidence is quite conclusive that the ad mission of young women as students into college classes has the effect to raise rather than to depress the standard of scholarship.
Another objection to the plan is found in the assumption that the course of study prescribed in colleges is too severe to be attempted without danger to the delicate constitutions of young women. This proposition has been elaborately maintained by an eminent authority, whose views have had a wide circulation, and have to ‘some ex tent impressed the public mind. So far as these views are founded on a prior£ considerations, they are mere opinions, to which the opinions of other authorities no less weighty may be opposed. So far as they are founded on observation of injurious results presumed to have fol lowed from overtasking the physical powers by excess of study, it would be easy to demonstrate, by similar ex amples, that the course of college study is too severe for young men as well.
But this argument, if it proves anything, proves too much,· It is not the kind of study which harms, if study harms at all, either young women or young men; it is the quantity. And certainly, valueless as the teaching in many young women’s “finishing schools” may be, it is usually heaped up upon its victims to an extent not in ferior to that which the college course requires. It is in conceivable that the exercise of the mind upon the solution of an algebraic problem, or the interpretation of a passage in Homer, can be more. exhausting than a similar exercise over the French irregular verbs; or even so much so as the confinement of hours daily in bending wearily over the drawing-table, or drumming on an ill-tuned piano. The argument of the objector, however, begs the whole question, by assuming that this is really the case, while his opponent might reply that if he has proved anything, he has simply proved that young women ought not to be educated at all.
Of course no one will contend that excess of study cannot but be injurious to the young of either sex. If young women in college commit this error they will suf fer for it, and so will young men. We see examples of this kind occasionally in the youth of our own college; but however we may regret these, we do not consider it advisable to discourage young men from entering college on that account. Could it be proved that the studies taught in college offer to young women a more danger ous temptation to excess than those which form the sub
stance of the more ornamental education they have been heretofore accustomed to receive, the fact might suggest the propriety of greater vigilance to arrest this tendency ; but it certainly could not justify us in cutting them off from these so fascinating studies altogether.
There is one consideration bearing on · the plan in question which is positively favorable, and is not without importance.’ The presence of young women in colleges is distinctly conducive to good order. Nothing is more certq.in than that the complete isolation of young men in masses from all society except their own tends to the formation of habits of rudeness, and to disregard of the ordinary proprieties of life. No degree of good breeding, no influence of social refinement in the family circle, can effectually secure a youth against this danger. It is this which explains the frequent participation of young men in college in acts which in other situations they could not be induced to countenance, and would even regard as reprehensible. Any circumstance, whatever it may be, which destroys this isolation, and subjects the youth to the wholesome influences which protect his moral tone in the ordinary environment of society, cannot but be bene ficial. Such .is the effect of the presence of women in college. On this point the undersigned is able to speak with the authority which belongs to knowledge experi mentally acquired. As an officer of the University of Alabama, it was his custom for years to invite the attend ance on his lectures of classes of young women from a neighboring female seminary, and others resident in the town of Tuscaloosa. The advantageous effect of this upon the manners of the young men was a subject of common observation, and the results were so satisfactory that the example was followed by other officers of the same institution ; so that scarcely a day passed without the presence of young women in one or another of the college classes. These were not matriculated students, it
is true, and they did not directly mingle with the young men; but this circumstance tended rather to diminish than to increase the influence which their presence ex erted, and yet this influence was very decided.
The elder Silliman, during the entire period of his distinguished career as a Professor of Chemistry, Geology, and Mineralogy in Yale College, was accustomed every year to admit to his lecture-courses classes of young women from the schools of New Haven. In that insti tution the undersigned had an opportunity to observe, as a student, the effect of this practice, similar to that which he afterward created for himself in Alabama, as a teacher. The results in both instances, so far as they went, were good; and they went far enough to make it evident that if the presence of young women in college, instead of be ing occasional, should bt: constant, they would be better.
But it is still objected that though the association of young women with young men in college may be bene ficial to the ruder sex, it is likely to be otherwise to the gentler. The delicacy and the reserve which constitute in so high a degree the charm of the female character are liable, it is said, to be worn off in the unceremonious intercourse of academic life; and the girl who enters col lege a modestly shrinking maiden is likely to come out a romping hoyden or a self-asserting dogmatist. Those who make this objection argue rather from assumed prem ises than from any facts of observation. It is sufficient to say that the experience of the high-schools of the country fails to furnish ·ground for this ·impression; and that no such results have been observed in any of the numerous colleges in which the experiment has for years been tried.
There is another and final objection, less frequently urged in these discussions than those above enumerated, yet probably often in the minds of those who do not urge it, which is founded on the supposed disturbing influence which sentimental causes may exercise over the spirit of study. If young people of both sexes are associated in the same institution, and thus permitted to meet frequently and familiarly, their thoughts, it is imagined, will be likely to be more constantly occupied with each other than with their books. An appeal might here again be made to experience to show that this danger is exaggerated. And it might be said with justice that the comparative freedom of school intercourse tends far less to excite the imaginations of impressible youth, and clothe for them the objects of their possible admiration with un real charms, than do the more constrained and less frequent opportunities of mutual converse afforded in general society.
But, however that may be, the argument is inappli cable to the circumstances of our particular case. Here no opportunities for intimate intercommunication exist at all. The students attend only during a limited number of hours daily, and during their attendance they are con stantly in class and occupied either in listening to instruc tion, or in the performance of their own scholastic duties. No common halls of assembly exist, in which they may’ gather, either .before the exercises of the day commence or after they are over. From their retiring-rooms, which will be entirely cut off from every other part of the build ing, the· young women will pass directly to the lecture rooms, and at the close of their daily tasks will retire in the same way. Throughout the entire duration of the college course they will be resident in their own homes, and surrounded by every protecting safeguard that pa. rental solicitude can provide. If it is really desirable that the educational advantages offered to young women should be equal to those which young men have been so long permitted to enjoy, it would seem to be neither rea sonable nor right that they should be excluded from the institutions where such advantages exist. If it is not desirable, of course the argument falls to the ground.
The measure here under consideration, should it meet with approval, would not probably be productive of any immediate visible effect. Few young women would be likely to present themselves as candidates for admission within the next few years, because there are few in this community who are likely to have given attention to the studies required as preparatory to the college course. But after that period, in a great city like this, a very considerable attendance might be anticipated, and thus our College would enter upon a new and important field of usefulness.
Whatever may be the fate of the present suggestion, the undersigned cannot permit himself to doubt that the time will yet come when the propriety and the wisdom of this measure will be ·fully recognized; and as he believes that Columbia College is destined in the coming centuries to become so comprehensive in the scope of her teaching as to be able to furnish to inquirers after truth the instruction they may desire in whatever branch of human knowledge, he believes also that she will become so catholic in her liberality as to open widely her doors to .all inquirers, without distinction either of class or sex.
The History of the Movement in England. FROM THE REPORT OF r88o.
In the last annual report of the undersigned the ques tion was presented whether, since the conditions no longer forbid, and a growing public opinion seems to
1 approve, the College would not do wisely and well to
offer its educational advantages to young women as well
. as to young men. The question failed to attract the·
serious . attention of the Trustees ; but it is believed that it did not’ altogether fail to excite interest. The object of the renewed mention of it here is to submit certain facts since gathered which show the rapid progress which in recent years the movement in favor of the university education of young women has made, and justify the con fidence heretofore expressed as to the future of this ques tion both at home and abroad. The movement in Eng land is more interesting than in our own country, not only because of the recency of its origin there and fhe rapidity with which it has gathered strength, but because of the extent to which it has enlisted the sympathies of the enlightened classes, and the slight resistance which it has· seemed to encounter in quarters where traditional prejudices are commonly presumed to be strongest.
The agitation in favor of the higher education of wo men in England was one of the concomitants and con sequences of the remarkable quickening of the public
20 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
conscience in regard to education in general which com menced about a quarter of a century ago, and has been among the most striking of the social and political phenomena of recent times in that country. It did not at
I first take the direction, and it is only now beginning to
,, take the direction, of a distinct demand for the admission
” of women to the universities on equal terms with men; it
I commenced merely in an outspoken revolt against the superficial and purely ornamental education given to girls in the so-called “finishing schools,” and which was at the
time the best education they could get. It was, therefore, a demand for the creation of schools or colleges for wo men in which the subjects of instruction should be as substantially valuable and as educationally profitable as those taught to men. The demand was resisted on several grounds : first, that the average female mind is not capable of grasping the more difficult subjects of the uni versity course; secondly, that the average female consti tution is not equal to the strain to which the severity of such a course subjects the physical powers; thirdly, that learning converts women into pedants-vulgarly called “blue-stockings “-so that its general prevalence among the sex would destroy the charm of social life ; and fourthly, that a woman is not a man, and therefore, ex vi terminz; she should not have a man’s education. The advocates of reform did not neglect to reply to these argu ments, but they correctly judged that the best refutation
, which could be given of them would be a refutation taking a practical shape. They therefore established in London, about twenty-five years ago, a school for girls called Queen’s College, having, like many of the American collegiate schools, a preparatory department and a collegi ate department, in both of which, in intention from the beginning and ultimately in fact, the course of study was made identically the same as that provided in King’s Col lege, an institution established more than twenty years
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 21
before, also in London, for boys. The practical test of the success of this experiment was to be the ability of the young women trained in it to pass the difficult examina tions required for graduation in London University; and it was the ambition and hope of the founders fo obtain for its proficients the same degrees which are awarded by that university, on similar evidences of proficiency, to young men. That ambition has been at length gratified, the London University having since r878 mad_e no distinction of sex in bestowing its degrees.
London University was founded by royal charter in
1837, to quiet a troublesome agitation on the part of Dis senters and Catholics for the abolition of religious tests at Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham. The first project for its charter was introduced into Parliament by Lord Brougham as· early as r825. University College, which is its immediate dependent, was opened in 1828. This university does not teach, but examines the candidates prepared for graduation by University College, King’s and Queen’s Colleges, London, the Independent College and New College, Manchester . (and also, till recently, Owens College of the same city, which, however, among the last acts of the Beaconsfield government, was erected into a university itself), Stoneyhurst Co!lege, Lancashire, St. Cuthbert’s College, Durham, and all other proprietary co!leges in the United Kingdom, to the number of thirty or forty. Its examination papers are annually sent under seal to the several dependent colleges, where they are simultaneously opened on the same day and at the same. hour ; and the answers of the candidates are returned similarly under seal to the examiners in London. ·These examiners are chosen from among the most distinguished scholars and men of science of the age in Great Britain, and have included such men as Dr. Carpenter, Dr. Hodg son, and Professor Huxley. The present list embraces
Professor J evons, Prof. Baynes, Prof. Balfour Stewart,
Prof. Fawcett, and Prof. Roscoe.
22 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
The advocates of the higher education of women were not quite contented with an experiment like that of Queen’s College. They were impressed with the feeling that the educational advantages offered to the sexes would never be equal until not only the subjects taught should be identical, but the teachers should be-and should be known and acknowledged to be-of equal abil ity ; which was another way of claiming that they should be the same. A step of progress toward this consumma tion was secured when, about fifteen years ago, what are called the university local examinations were opened at Cambridge to women. These are not examinations for degrees; but the examiners being university men, their experience in this work ·naturally predisposed them to look without disfavor on such further efforts to promote the higher education “Of women as might require their countenance and co-operation. Such an effort was made a year or two latter in the proposition to establish, at Girton, in the vicinity of Cambridge, a college for young women, ” designed to hold in relation to girls’ schools and home-teaching a position analogous to that occupied by the universities towards the public schools for boys ;” and further, “to take such steps as from time to time may be thought most expedient and effectual to obtain for the students of the college admission to the examina tions for degrees of the University of Cambridge, and generally to place the· college in connection with that university.” It was further understood, and was a part of the plan, that the immediate instruction should be given in great part by professors, lecturers, and fellows of the university and·its colleges, who should visit the new col lege daily for that purpose. The effort was promptly sus tained, no difficulty having been found in securing the assistance of a sufficient number of the gentlemen of the University, an·d the college went into operation in a building hired for the purpose in October,I 86g. Four
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 23
years later it occupied a building of its own, which it has been necessary since twice successively to enlarge. From the opening of the college, up to June, I 879, eighty-six students had been admitted, of whom forty-two remained in residence during the ensuing (present) year ; and of the rest nineteen obtained honors according to the uni versity standard-six in classics, five in mathematics, four in natural sciences, three in moral sciences, and one in history; and eleven passed the examinations which qualify for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In the examination for the more recent mathematical tripos o.f December, I879, it has be\!n announced that a Girton student ranked as eighth wrangler.
It is only a degree-standard or honor-standard, how ever, which is thus secured. The degrees are not granted nor the honors officially proclaimed, for the reason that the college has not as yet attained the recognized connec tion to which it aspires with the corporation of Cam bridge University. Instead of diplomas the college gives to its graduates what are called degree certificates. In the tripos examinations for I879, two students attained secon:d-class honors in natural history, one a third-class in mathematics, and one a third-class in h,istory. Of the r gular instructors and lecturers in Girton College, being at the same time university or college professors, lectur ers, tutors, or fellows in Cambridge, there are twelve, and in I879 fully thirty more gave occasional instruction or special courses in their respective departments.
The success of Girton produced a profound impres sion in England. It did not satisfy but rather stimulated the zeal of the advocates of the higher education of women. It was soon followed by the formation of a· “National Union for the Improvement of Women’s Education,” embracing among its members many men and women of high distinction which established an organ for the inculcation of its views, and stimulated the
24 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
erection of girls’ schools for superior instruction in differ ent parts of the kingdom under the direction and control of a corporation organized for that purpose.
‘ A more important movement having the same gen
eral end in view, but tending more directly to secure ulti mately to women not merely university education, but education in the university, was the formation, about ten years ago, in the town of Cambridge, of an “Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women.” In the articles of association of this body it is set forth as its primary object “to maintain and develop the system of lectures for women instituted in January, I87o, on the subjects of the Cambridge higher local examinations and in other branches of academic study.” The president of the association is the distinguished astronomer, Prof. John Couch Adams; nd in the list of its membership are enrolled most of the professors of the university. Practically under this association the same advantages were offered to young women at their homes in Cam bridge as were attainable at Girton with the disadvantage of residing away from home. In one respect it presently appeared that these advantages were really greater; inas much as the professors of the university began very soon and very generally to open their lecture-rooms to the young women engaging in study under the auspices of the association. In consequence of this, students began to. be attracted to Cam bridge from a distance ; and for these a modest hall was opened in I87I, but as the mem bers rapidly increased, a building was specially erected for the purpose, sufficiently spacious to accommodate up ward of thirty, which, under the name of Newnham Hall, was occupied in I87S· This building also was soon found to · be overflowing ; and accordingly, in the spring of
I 879, it was decided to erect another, in the immediate vici ity of the first, to be called N ewnham Hostel,*
* This name was proposed but abandoned, and the building was opened as
NewnhaNorth Hall, the· original building being called Newnham South Hall.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. .25
which will be ready for occupation in October of· the present year. Though N ewnham Hall was established for the accommodation of students coming to Cambridge to take advantage of the educational opportunities created
; by the Cambridge “association,” the council of the hall and the association were two separate and independent organizations. For the better accomplishment of their common object it was resolved, during the yearI 879, to unite the two into. one under the title of N ewnham College.
It is stated in the prospectus of N ewnham Hall that
“the public lectures of thirty of the university professors are now open to women, and the permission to attend the lectures of the professors of natural science includes the privilege of gaining access to some of the natural science museums and laboratories.” More particularly, a letter recently received from Miss Anne ]. Clough, the Principal of the college, states as follows : ” Our students are allowed to attend most of the university lectures in preparation Jor the natural-science tripos, and for the his torical tripos. They attend some of the moral-science lectures with the men; and some lectures are repeated for the benefit of the women at a different hour;
” The women are also allowed to attend some of the classical lectures, and others are·repeated.* The women. students have not been admitted to any mathematical lec tures. They study by means of private help. Some of the N ewnham Hall students have been allowed, by the kindness of university friends of the higher education of women, to have the papers on the honor examinations in the classics, mathematics, the moral sciences, history, and the natural sciences. Eighteen of our students have · come out in honor, and’there have been four first classes
* A gentleman residing in Cambridge writes, in a letter of recent date, that “most of the university professors have opened their lecture-rooms to women, and this has been done in a few cases with college lecturers.”
26 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
in this number and eight second classes. One was placed in the first class by two examiners and in the second by two.
“These examinations are informal as yet, and should always be so spoken of. But the papers are the same as those given to the men, and are looked over by the same exammers.
” No official certificates are granted for the tripos ex
aminations, as they are only done as a favor.”
Certificates are, however, given for the higher local examinations, which are held under the authority of the university by university examiners. It is plain that mat ters are converging fast enough toward the point where tripos certificates will be granted to women also, as well as degrees in arts.
Oxford was nearly ten years later than Cambridge in yieldingto the steadily growing demand for the university education of women. An association for the promotion of this object, formed on the plan of that of Cambridge, was organized in 1878 or r879. Its scheme of lectures has been as yet in operation only for a single year. Two
halls have been opened for the reception of women stu •’
dents, the Lady Margaret Hall, of which Miss E. Words
worth is principal, and Somerville Hall, under Miss
Madelein Shaw Lefevre. The first is governed by a supervisory board, of which the Rev. Edward Stuart Talbot, Warden of Keble College, is the chairman; and the other by a similar board, under the chairmanship of Samuel William Waite, B.D., President of Trinity Col lege.
As yet the women students in Oxford have not been
as freely admitted to the university lectures as in Cam bridge. Miss Shaw Lefevre writes that “the university professors have in some cases agreed to admit women to their lectures, but for the present lectures are provided expressly for the students of the association.” And Miss
– .- \
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 27
Wordsworth observes that ” the students attend lectures quite apart from the men, though in some cases the same professor instructs them.”
When the instructor is a university professor or lec turer, however, he does not receive the .women in his university or college lecture-room, but in a building tem porarily engaged for that purpose by the association ; the only exception to this being the lectures on chemistry, “which, requiring a somewhat elaborate apparatus, re given in the laboratory of Christ Church College, but at
. different hours from the university lectures.”
The two great and venerable universities of England
thus illustrate the modern remarkable movement toward the higher education of women in two distinct stages of its progress. In Oxford we see the movement just be ginning; in Cambridge it appears in a highly advanced state of transition. If from these we turn to the U ni versity of London, established half a century ago in vigorous and indignant protest against the ,exclusiveness and bigotry of the older institutions, which would deny to half the men of the United Kingdom, to say nothing of the women, the adv\lntages of a liberal education, we shall find the movement in its final stage of accomplished purpose. It is now several years since University Col lege, London, opened its doors freely for the admission of women students ; but though the instruction it gave them was identical with i:hat given to men,. it taught them altogether separately and at different hours. No very long experience was necessary to make it manifest that· an arrangement of this kind is exceedingly uneconomical in regard both to time and to labor ; or that the reasons which had been supposed to make it necessary or proper were without substantial foundation. By the spontaneous act of the professors· themselves, the classes were one after another combined, until at length there is no ‘longer any class in University College in which young women
I I II
28 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
and young men do not receive· instruction together.* The university has been as liberal as the college. It examines young women on precisely the saine terms as young men, and grants them the same degrees. In the
. first examination of women by this university for the degree of B.A., held two or three years ago, one of ·the alumna! of Newnham Hall of the year 1875, who had attained a second-class grade in the classical tripos of Cambridge, and a third-class in the mathematical tripos, secured the degree and gained along with it first-class honors in Latin and English.
This movement in Great Britain receives the approval and encouragement of men in the highest station. At a recent distribution of prizes at the Oxford higher local examinations, the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his great gratification that opportunities for instruction of the higl).est order were now opening to all young women who should choose to receive it.
From this cursory review of the extraordinary prog ress made in this movement in England during the brief period of the past ten years, the conclusion seems to be irresistible that the barriers which have so long closed the British universities against women are destined at no dis tant period to fall away, and that perhaps it may be given to the present rising generation to see the time when not university education only, but the universities themselves, will be freely open to all without distinction of sex.
Of what has taken place or is taking place in our own country it is not necessary to say .much. The facts of progress are too palpable to require· comment. One or two points may be mentioned briefly. The number of institutions professing to give university education, and possessing the strictly university power of conferring de-
*The number of students in University College is very large. Six years ago it embraced more than fifteen hundred, of whom nearly nine hundred were in the Collegiate Department.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 29
grees in arts, in the United States, is very great, and more than half of them admit students of both sexes impar tially. It is common to dispose of this fact summarily by remarking that these colleges are in the West. To a dweller upon Beacon Hill, very possibly the West is
. Breotia. But what shall we say when we see growing up, right under the shadow of Beacon Hill itself, a uni versity which admits young women as freely as Oberlin, or Antioch, or Berea? And yet this very thing has hap pened in Boston within the past ten years. The Boston University numbers for the present year in its College of the Liberal Arts one hundred and twenty-seven students, of whom one third are young women.
The University of Michigan is a Western university.
It was founded more than forty years ago. From the beginning it has been among the most prosperous of American educational institutions; and few have gained a higher or enjoyed a more well-deserved reputation. Michigan University receives women as students, but it had been thirty years in successful operation before it began to do so ; and when it began; it did it under the constraint of a public opinion expressed through the legislature and the public journals, which the trustees and the teaching body could not resist, and to which they unwillingly yielded. Ten years have passed since the change of system, and the university, with seventy five women in the department of Arts, and nearly fifty in its medical schools, is now more prosperous than before.
In May, I879, the Board of Overseers of Harvard
University adopted a resolution declaring that in the
opinion of that Board women ought to be instructed in medicine by Harvard University in ·its Medical School, the President concurring, though he has pronounced him self strongly against the admission of women into the col lege. Moreover, under the gentle urgency of some of
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
the ladies of Cambridge, several of whom are members of the families of the professors, a-N ewnham Hall has grown up within the heart of the university town itself, in
which all the instruction is given by university officers.
- It looks somewhat as if King Priam had allowed the
Trojan horse to be admitted within his walls. There are even some of the ·garrison who, if all things are true that are said, are already disposed to take part with the enemy.*
*There can be little doubt that the present arrangements at Harvard Univer sity for extending to young women the educational advantages of that institution are regarded by thoUghtful professors of the university as only temporary, Either the scheme will be abandoned, which is not probable, or sooner or later instruc tion will be given to the young women in the same class-rooms and at the same. hours as to the young men. This opinion has not been generally as publicly ex pressed as it is apparently entertained. Yet, in an address delivered at the semi centennial anniversary of the Andover Female Academy, in 1879, Dr. Andrew P. Peabody, the eminent professor o!Christian Morals in the University, is reported
to have used the !allowing language: “Every professor has assented to the arrangement with the determination to give to the young women the very best of their ability. Whether the young men and young women will meet. in the same class-room is a question yet to be answered. I cannot mysel! believe that the time is very !ar distant when they will. I can see no reason why young men and young women may not study and recite together as well as talk, sing, and dance together. The reason usually given why they should not is purely a relic of some tradition, the reason for which has been entirely lost to the memory of man. When we think that they a.re to be together in the building, the most innocent and fitting of all associations would seem to be an association in the very highest pur suits, next to their eternal well-being, in which they can be engaged. There is no reason wh-y association in this matter should be postponed.”
And Col. T. W. Higginson, a distinguished alumnus of the .;allege, who, though not a member of the Faculty, is a resident of Cambridge, testifies from personal observation to the state of feeling existing there, as follows: u Some of the Harvard teachers already express a preference for that method [bringing to gether the young men and young women in the same classes], at least where classes are small and far advanced; and practice will only strengthen this feeling. If a Greek professor has among his pupils three young men who can read Plato at sight, and two young women who can do the same, it will require some very strong resistance to prevent his hearing all five at the same hour and place. In short, the new plan at Harvard is another guaranty that the world moves. It has a sincere and generous origin-the honest conviction of the committee that the vast resources of Harvard should he made available for girls, supplemented by the desire of some who are parents that their own daughters should be taught. The sympathy of the professors is the result of the general tendency of the times, and ‘doubtless of the experiments made elsewhere, especially in Boston Uni Yersity,”
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 31
Upon this topic the undersigned desires to add but a single further word. The movement in England which it has been endeavored to describe was a movement de signed strictly and solely to promote the higher education of women ; not regarding the consequent possible presence of men and women in the same school as anything more than an incident which for its own .sake was neither to be sought nor avoided. In England, therefore, the term “co education” is scarcely known ;· for, considered as defining succinctly an object to be aimed at, there has been no need of it, since no such idea existed. The light in which the undersigned has always regarded this subject has been that in which it has been viewed in Great Britain. And therefore it is that, in order that there may not be in the future any such mistake as there appears to have been in the past in regard to what it is precisely that he has ad vocated and still advocates in reference to this matter, he ventures to quote here an explicit enunciation of his views concerning it, ·which has heretofore been made public elsewhere, in the following words:
“All terms used as party rallying-cries or watchwords
should be descriptive of the purposes of the parties em ploying them; or, if description cannot be compressed into a single word, should be significant of the idea which distinctly characterizes the object, purpose, or measure which the party have in view. If they do anything but this, they will probably be misleading; and such, no doubt, is to some extent the case in the present instance. The term “co-education” conveys to many minds the impression that those who advocate the measure it denotes are laboring for the specific object, and for nothing: higher, or better, or more worthy of attainment than the specific object, of bringing young men and young women together in the same schools. But this is so far from· being the specific object of this class of educational agitators, that it is not in fact an object with them at all. The thing which they
32 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
do actually propose to themselves is to secure for women opportunities for an educational culture as large and liberal as is provided for the opposite sex. Since the only insti tutions which afford this culture have hitherto been mono polized by men, and since it is not possible, either morally or economically, to create similar institutions for women exclusively, we make the reasonable demand that women shall be received into the existing institutions. Should this demand be successful, it will be, of course, an incidental consequence that women and men will receive their education in the same institutions; that is, that co education will exist as a resultant fact, though not as an object sought for its own sake. Whether this fact will be likely to be advantageous to those who may be affected by it is nothing to the purpose. Most probably it will several reasons suggest. themselves for supposing that it will-but, however that may be, that is not the thing which the advocates of the higher education of women are laboring to secure.”
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
Recent Progress o.f Opinion Favoring.
FROM THE REPORT OF 1881.
- From many quarters, during the last few years, the anxious inquiry has been coming in upon the undersigned, Will not Columbia College do something for the higher education of our girls ? Especially has this been the case since the subject was first brought to the attention of the Trustees in the annual report of the undersigned for 1879•
. Evidence continually presents itself that the interest felt
in this question in this community is deep, extensive, and
constantly growing. It is, in fact, so ·generally felt among people of the highest influence and culture in our city that nothing is more rare. than to meet an individual who does not avow it. That there has been a great change in popular opinion on this subject within a period compara tively brief admits of no question. The reasons for this are not very far to seek. .. ‘,..
In the first place, the logic of events has been operat ing upon many minds with a slowly wowing but ulti-. mately irresistible force. Most of the objections which the proposition· to extend to young women the advan tages of the highest academic culture encountered in the beginning· were speculative merely, and were founded upon hypotheses which the unanswerable results of ex periment have proved to be baseless. No one is any longer weak enough to argue that women should be de nied the educational advantages which universities offer
34 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
” on the ground of any natural incapacity in the sex to profit by them. Nor is it any longer contended that the physical organization of women is too delicate to permit them with safety to grapple with those difficult subjects
I which are commonly supposed to require for their mas tery a severe course nf study long protracted. The fal lacy of this line -of argument has been _a,bundantly ex posed by the signal success of Michigan, Cornell, and
Boston universities, and by the more conspicuously bril
liant, if not more conclusive, results of experiment at
Girton and N ewnham colleges in England. The results
i.n hese latter instances have been more conspicuous, be cause the young women at the colleges named have been subject to the same tests of attainment as .those presen te.d to the young men of .the University of Cambridge, and have sustained themselves with honor. Nor does it ap pear that their intellectual triumphs have been purchased at any expense to their physical vigor.
The entire abandonment, however, of the position that women ought to be denied the advantages of univer sity education on the ground of either mental or physical
- i.nferiorit’y is made manifest by the noticeable encourage ment given to the foundation of colleges or universities for women only. Quite a number of these have come into existence within the past ten or twenty years, some of them munificently endowed, and provided with build ings, equipine ts,· and surroundings which ·make them extremely attractive. The course of study in all of these is identical with that prescribed in the colieges for men: Such institutions, by the very fact of their existence, con cede all that the advocates. of the higher education of women have· ever demanded ; and the extent to which they are patronized shows how completely the objections so long and so persistently urged against the feasibility. of the proposed reform have lost their force.
But while we may regard the creation of these special
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 35
institutions as something gained to the cause of the high er education of women, in the respect that they are;in the first ·place,. a visible. and frank recognition of the de sirability and propriety-of the thing itself, and that they constitute, secondly, a provision, to a certain extent, of the means of practically accomplishing the object desired; yet, when we consider that our country has already some two or three hundred colleges more than are needed for the satisfactory education of all the young men, and young women too, for whom such provision is necessary, we cannot but regret the mistake of that liberality which pours out its treasures in adding so. unnecessarily to the number. Without intending the slightest disparagement of the teaching in any of the certainly excellent colleges for women m the country at this time, it is certainly”al lowable to say of it that it cannot possibly compare with that which is given iri those ancient seats of Ieaining where, through a long series of years, have been gradu ally brought together all . the appliances necessary to facilitate research or illustration iri every department of knowledge ; and where the teachers are men of celebrity universally recognized as authoriti”es in the wodd of sci ence or letters. The advantage to· the “learner of having his course of study directed by an instructor who· is thor oughly master of his subject is one which is not generally appreciated as it should be.. It was a sagacious remark of the’ illustrious Agassiz that a young man may gain more from coming into contact for a single month with a man of really profound knowledge of any subject than he can from many months spent under the tutelage of one who himself knows but very little more than that which he attempts to teach. But such is undeniably the very moderate degree of qualification possessed by many
. of the instructors in our minor colleges ; imd considering the small attraction which most of .those institutions are
- able to offer to draw to them superior talent, the prob-
36 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
ability is that the same thing is true of the larger num
It is unquestionably the case that a very large propor tion of the funds which have been so liberally devoted in our country to the foundation of new colleges, whether for men or for women, has been very unwisely bestowed. There can of course be no possible doubt of the _sincerity of the benevolence which has prompted such benefac tions ; but the instances are rare, at least in later years, in which the liberality which has taken this form has been productive of any real benefit to the public. .From care ful inquiries made in past years by the undersigned, and heretofore published, it has been demonstrated that the increase in the number of colleges in our country during the last half-century has largely outgrown the increase of the population, while the average number of the students attending on them has steadily fallen off.
It is further true that a benefaction designed to ad_
vance the interests of the higher education is vastly more effective for good when bestowed on an existing institu tion already financially strong than- when employed in establishing a new one. For in the latter case, such a
I benefaction, unless of very large amount, is chiefly or wholly· absorbed in the construction of buildings and the
purchase of furniture and other objects which contribute nothing directly to educational efficiency ; while the in stitution thus set on foot is afterward left, with very in adequate resources, to struggle on as best it can in the discharge of its proper work. A similar amount of en
,. dowment added, on the other hand, to the funds of an in
stitution already well established and strong would be immediately and wholly available for purposes of a strict ly educational character, such as endowing new chairs of instruction, or making valuable additions to libraries, or to collections in science, art, natural history, or arche
ology. To create a new institution equal in resources to
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 37
one already in existence could at best but double the educational advantages offered to the public ; while it. would be quite within bounds to say that the same means by which the second of the two is created, if applied to strengthen the first, would increase its usefulness fourfold.
The colleges for women recently established in the State .of Massachusetts are, probably, all things consid ered, the best examples of their kind in the United States; but no thoughtful man can doubt that, had the money expended in their erection been given to Harvard Univer sity, with the condition that that institution should do the work which they are doing, the result would have been far more advantageous to the people of the State. That there is nothing in the circumstances of Harvard Univer sity to prevent its doing this work is evident enough without discussion; but if there had ever been any doubt about it, such. is entirely removed by the fact that the Professors of Harvard University are, of their own volun tary motion, actually doing it upon a limited scale at the present time. .
The experiment of the so-called Harvard “Annex” has
been in fact one of the causes operating to produce the remarkable change in ·public opinion in regard to the university education of women which has been referred to above. It has shown how baseless were the apprehen sions of those who had been accustomed to regard the bringing together of young men and young women in the same institution and under the same educational tutelage as a measure fraught with a multitude of riameless evils. It has shown that nothing is more simple than to secure the realization of the advantages of such a measure, accompanied by the most absolute guaranty against all the evils with which the imaginations of doubters have alarmed themselves. The young women of the Harvard Annex do not mingle with the young men of the College, nor attend lectures with them at the same places and
I ‘ f
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
hours. Such a separation, while it may be for the present a necessary concession to a deeply seated but probably mistaken notion of the fitness of things, does not deprive female students of the benefit of receiving instruction from the same teachers as the others, or of availing them selves of those important auxiliaries to improvement, the libraries and the collections. There is, as this example shows, nothing impracticable in the idea of carrying on·a complete system of university instruction for young peopl of both sexes in the same institution, and at the same time keeping the two classes of students entirely separate. . It was upon this plan that University College, London, as mentioned in the last annual report of the undersigned, commenced its experiment; but the obvious disadvantages of imposing upon the Professors double work Jed to the ultimate union of the classes previously held separate, and
. more recent experience has shown the change;: to be· on
the whole advantageous to both teachers and students:
- University College is very largely attended.. It has a faculty of arts and laws, and a faculty of medicine and
- science, besides a preparatory school of more than eight
hundred· pupils.· The entire roll of its students for 1S8o-81 amounts to nineteen hundred and fifty-five, ‘of whom seven hundred and eighty-nine are under the faculties of arts, Jaws, and _science. Exactly one third of this latter number, cir two hundred and sixty-two, are women;. and
in the examinations for honors of which reports have appeared .during the year in the public prints, these have been successful in securing their fair proportion.
The example of University College has been undoubt edly one of the causes affecting public opinion in our country favorably to the proposition to open our own colleges to young women. Still more powerful has been the·influence in the same direction of the remarkable sue-
– cess of Girton and Newnham Colleges at Cambridge. In a notice of these institutions in the last annual report of
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 39
the undersigned, the prediction was hazarded that they could not long continue to be excluded from the en joy ment of all those university privileges which have hereto fore been monopolized ,by men; that is to say, that their students would be admitted to compete on an equal foot ing with those of the regular university colleges for. uni versity honors and university degrees. This prediction, in its most important particular, has been since verified even sooner than had been anticipated. Early in r 880, petitions numerously signed began to pour in upon the Senatus Academzi:us of the university, praying “for an en largement of the university privileges granted to women, and fifteen such petitions in all had bee,n received before the end of November: The first of these, which was re ceived on the·I th of May, was signed by no fewer than eighty-five hundred persons. The character of the signers of some of these papers was such as to entitle them to special weight, particularly in the case of one which was signed by one hundred and twenty-three resident members of the Senate, and of another which received the signa tures of five hundred and sixty-seven non-resident mem bers of the same·body. The prayers of these memorials were not all identical. Some of them confined themselves to asking that. the university would formally sanction the admission of women to the examinations which are open to members of the university; others prayed that women might be admitted to. the examinations, and to the degrees conferred according to the results .of the examinations; and·the remainder merely that women might be admitted to the B.A. degree. …
These memorials were referred to a syndicate of which
- the Deputy Vice-Chancellor was chairman, which on the third of December made a report to the Senate, recom mending that female students who shall have fulfilled the conditions respecting length of residence and standing which members of the university are required to fulfil
40 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
may be admitted to the Previous Examination and to the Tripos Examinations. Also, that the residence required may be kept at Girton College or at N ewnham College, or within the precincts of the university under the regula tions of either of these colleges, or of any similar institu tion within the precincts of the university which may be recognized hereafter by the University by Grace of the Senate. Further, that after each examination a class list of the female students who have satisfied the examiners shall be published by the examiners at the same time with the class list of members of the university, the standard in each class and the method of arrangement in each class being the same in the two class lists. And that in each class of female students in which the names are arranged in order of merit, the place which each of such students would have occupied in the corresponding class of mem
bers of the university should be indicated. It was also !
recommended that the successful candidates for honors
should receive certificates stating the examinations she had passed, and the class and place in class which she had attained in each of such examinations. And finally, that any student who should fail to secure honors should, if her performance should be ad judged sufficient to justify it, receive a certificate that such student has reached a standard equivalent to that required from members of the university for the ordinary B.A. degree.
The 24th of February, 1881, was the day appointed
for the consideration of this report, and as the day approached the friends of the measure were not with out solicitude. The event proved, however, that their anxieties were without foundation; for when the vote was taken the recommendations of the committee were
- adopted by a majority of more than ten to one.*
*While this report is passing through.the press the following paragraph has been noticed among the educational ;news items in the journals of the day. It furnishes additional evidence of the progress which the university education of women is making abroad:
THE HIGHER llDUCATION OF WOMEN. 41
This liberal action of the Senate has placed the wo· men students of Cambridge, for all practical purposes, upon an equal footing with the men. They have the uni versity teaching, the university examinations, the univer sity honors, and university certificates testifying to the proficiency required for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. The diploma is all which remains to be conceded; and after what has been secured, the diploma would have very little additional value. It will no doubt be granted in time; but the directors of the women’s colleges are so well satisfied with the results achieved that hey consider
“The Uni’versity of Durham, England, has adopted a rule admitti’ng women to the public examinations and the degree of Bachelor of Arts. The University of Adelaide, Australia, admitted women to the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts some time ago, and the Queen has now ordered that these awards shall be recognized throughout the kingdom as en titled to their full rank and precedence. Three ladies have just been admitted to the Bachelor of Arts degree of London University.”
England bas four universities of old date, Oxford, Cambridge, London, Durham;
and one recently established, Victoria, at Manchester. Two of these, London and Durham, confer upon women degrees in arts; a third, Cambridge, admits women to her Honor examinations; a:t the fourth, Oxford, some of the professors are beginning to admit women to their lectures; and of the fifth, Victoria, the attitude on this subject bas not yet been defined, but it can hardly be doubtful that this young institution will rank itself upon the liberal side.
At the same time with the foregoing, the. following paragraph relating to the
women’s colleges at Cambridge has been encountered, and is of interest as illus trating the present tone of the American press as to the question of admitting young women to the privileges of the existing universities:·
“Girton and Newnham, the young women’s colleges at Cambridge, England, are full of pupils, and the authorities have more applications !or admission than they can accept. The students go in carriages to the university lectures. There is not the slightest opposition to the colleges among the professors and students oi the university-which is a !act to be reflected upon by those connected with the comparatively youthful American universities which become so alarmed and irri tated over every suggestion of admitting women to their privileges. The majority of the ladies who have been educated at the Cambridge colleges have become suc cessful teachers.”
The following is found in a notice of the Commencement at OUJ;” neighboring Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, held on the x6th of this current June:
“The committee [of Faculty] recommend ‘with entire unanimity and great
earnestness of conviction that young women of the proper ag!! and fitness be admitted to pursue the studies of this course on the same terms and receive the same degree as young men.'”
42 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
what remains as hardly worth contending for. Miss: · Clough, the Principal of N ewnham College, writes, “For my own part I prefer this arrangement to the degrees. As students must reside in Cambridge, the act that they are not given degrees avoids many difficulties.”
Now this very substantial triumph of Newnham and Girton colleges has not been unattended with a very sen sible impression upon the public mind in our own coun try as well as in England. This was made very manifest by the comments of the American press upon the occur rence when the intelligence.was first received. One lead ing journal of our own city remarked: “It is pleasant. and novel to read the comments upon the recent action
. of Cambridge admitting women to fuller privileges. It
has already had a remarkable effect in liberalizing opinion. ‘>
In the past ten years there has been a marvellous advance
in popular ideas concerning woman’s education. Those
long supported her claims to intellectual growth
may well be permitted a little sarcasm over the blind prejudices of the past.” The same tone distinguishes all the notices of this important incident which have been encountered in the public journals. In no instance which has fallen under observation has there been an expression of disapproval, still less of what might ten years ago ]l.ave been very possible-contempt.
The press itself, indeed, which here records the grow ing liberalization of public opinion, has not been the least powerful of the influences contributing to promote this gratifying change. It is a noteworthy and very encour aging fact, that all the most widely Circulated public jour nals of the country, without a known exception, are in sympathy with the movement in favor of the higher edu· cation of women. Few of them, it is true, engage in a!). active propaganda on the subject, but all of .them .are ready, as occasion arises, with their words of cheer for those who are so engaged; and perhaps for that very rea-
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 43
son what they do say has all the more effect upon the public mind. By their attitude as thu.s displayed, if not by any labored argument, they powerfully impress, and lend to the cause the substantial support which attaches to their weight of character. A few dispassionate words occasionally dropped upon any widely mooted question, by a disinterested and respected authority, are often more effective in determining public opinion than volumes of eloquence from the· lips of the enthusiasts who are sup posed to see but one side. And it is by such words of favorable notice, coming not from here and there one, but from all the influential journals of the country, that the movement in favor of .opening the universities to women as well as to men has been so commended to the popular approbation that its propriety has almost ceased to be
questioned in any quarter, while it is’ continually finding
new and active advocates among those who had been pre
viously indifferent or hostile.
The Admission of Women to Columbia College Recom mended.-The time seems, therefore, to have fully come when Columbia College should feel herself urged by every motive of expediency or duty to do her part in carrying forward this noble and beneficent work. The public mind is prepared for it; a large number-it is be lieved a majority-of our most enlightened fellow-citizens eagerly demand it; the members of our Faculty without exception favor it ; our circumstances are such as to make it easily practicable. If in any minds there are still objec tions to the system which elsewhere exists, under which young women are withdrawn from their homes to be gath ered together in numbers in academic boarding-houses,
. such objections can have no application· here, since the
young women received as students at Columbia College will still reside, as the young men do now, under their parents’ roofs, and \Vill continue to be surrounded by all
44 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
the beneficial influences of domestic society. If there are any who except to the arrangement under which, as at University College, London, and at the Boston, Cornell,
.and Michigan universities in this country, young men and
young women assemble to receive instruction in the same class-rooms and at the same hours, their scruples may be re!lloved by adopting here the plan of the Harvard “An nex,” and holding the exercises for the two classes of stu
- dents separately. The Faculty of the College are ready 1
for either plan, although the second would impose upon
them a very unnecessary increase of labor. Indeed, they are more than ready, for there can be no doubt that they are prepared, and are quite disposed, if necessary, to or ganize a scheme for the instruction of women in all the subjects of the college course, independently altogether· of the Board of Trustees; and they would do so, could a committee of citizens be found here, as at Cambridge, willing to attend to the necessary business arrangements, and to provide rooms for the exercises near the College, should the use of the College class-rooms be denied them for the purpose. Such a scheme has been a subject of conversation among members of the Faculty on many occasions during the past year; and it may probably be
-carried into effect at no distant day, unless the occasion
for it shall cease to exist, in consequence of the admission of women as students to the College itself.*
When this subject was’ first brought to the notice of the Trustees, in 1879, it failed to be taken into serious consideration; yet it is known that the proposition was not unfavorably regar.ded by some members of the Board,
* This statement requires qualification. It was founded on impressions de rived from conversations, and from the actual practice of some of the professors,
<>f admitting to their lectures women in small numbers (of course not matriculates),
:some of whom hav:e occasionally continued in regular attendance throughout an
-entire session. It appears, however, that some professors who have done this ocannot be counted as favoring the practice, and that opinions among the members
<>f the Faculty are at present divided.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN. 45
and it is not believed that any were unalterably opposed to it on principle. Whatever objections may have been entertained in regard to it are believed to have related to matters of detail, such as the construction of ·our build ings and the capacity of our lecture-room, rather than to considerations of a more serious nature. It is believed, however, and it can be easily proved, that all such sup posed difficulties are imaginary, and that the proposed measure can be carried into effect without the slightest inconvenience.
In the first mention of the subject, in the report of the year above named, the opinion was expressed that, even in case of an immediately favorable action by the Trus tees, some years must elapse before any considerable number of young women would be prepared to take ad vantage of the opportunities thus opened to them. Such an opinion would not be justified by the state of things existing at the present time. The undersigned has reason to believe that within the past two years the number of young women who have turned their attention to classical studies has greatly increased ; and that there are now not a few of suitable age in our city who are so well up in their Latin and Greethat they could probably pass without difficulty the entrance examinations. It is believed, therefore, that the consequence of opening the College to the admission of women would be an early and very material increase in the number of our students; which would be attended with an augmentation of the revenue from tuition fees, amounting in the course of about four years to not less than ten and probably more than fifteen thousand dollars per annum.
The measure proposed is therefore recommended not
. only by the consideration that it is right in itself and that it will greatly increase the usefulness of the College, but also because it will be advantageous financially. And it has the further recommendation that, being in the direc-
46 THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
tion of manifest destiny, to accept it promptly would be a graceful act ; while to lag behind the spirit of the age in regard to it would be only to be coerced after all into accepting it at last, ungracefully.
– In conclusion on this subject the undersigned can only
repeat the conviction expressed in his former report, that the question here considered is in this institution only a question of time ; and that, whatever may happen this year or the next, Columbia College will yet open her
doors widely enough to receive all earnest and honest
seekers after knowledge, without any distinction of class or sex.