Barnard College: An Early Timeline, To 1939

                                                             Barnard College Timeline, 1754 -1939




I. Before Barnard (1754-1864)


1754 King’s College founded in New York  by the City’s leading Anglicans and  with public funding.  No provision for women students Columbia history
women’ higher education
1784 King’s College renamed and rechartered as Columbia College. Anglican aspects of the earlier college officially eliminated by new charter, though continued in practice. Columbia history
1810 Last substantial revision of Columbia charter. Remains in force. Contains no provision for  enrolling women but no specific provision precluding doing so. Columbia history
 1837  Mount Holyoke Seminary opens in western Mass.; early focus on training women for missionary service
1837 Newly opened Oberlin College admits women as well as men Women’s higher education
1839 Georgia Female Academy in Macon, Georgia, the first women’s college in the US Women’s higher education
II. Run-Up to Barnard (1864- 1889)
1864 Frederick A. P. Barnard (1809-1889) becomes Columbia College’s 12th president;  served until  1889
1865 Vassar College opens in Poughkeepsie, NY. The oldest of what in the 1920s become “The Seven Sisters.” Women’s higher education
1869 Cornell University opens; officially coeducational Women’s higher education
1873 New York mother of daughters and feminist Lillie Devereux Blake calls upon Columbia trustees to open Columbia to women. School of Mines faculty Ogden Rood, Charles A. Joy and John S. Newberry allowing women at their lectures. Columbia women
1875 Wellesley College opens on vast campus in Boston suburb of  Wellesley,  Massachusetts,  with financial backing of the evangelical Presbyterians Henry Durant and his wife; 2nd of the later designated “Seven Sisters.”

Smith College opens in Northampton.  3rd  of Seven Sisters. Underwritten by the substantial estate of Sophia Smith.

Women’s higher education
1876 Columbia College Trustees receive a memorial  from a New York-based Sorosis women’s  group calling upon Columbia to open admission to its three schools (the College, the law school, the School of Mines) and to its then  affiliated medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Trustees decline to do so. Columbia women
1879 Columbia trustees prohibit women from attending classes in School of Mines. Columbia women



Columbia president Frederick A. P. Barnard uses the first of three successive annual President Reports to argue for the admission of women to Columbia’s schools.

Harvard opens an “Annex” (later, Radcliffe), where Harvard instructors provide separate and segregated instruction to young women enrolled in a non-degree certificate program. Radcliffe the 4th of the Seven Sisters.

Columbia administration
Columbia women
1881 Upon receipt of Barnard’s third report calling for the admission of women, the trustees restricted  use of his annual reports and rejected his arguments. Faculty and College undergraduates also opposed to Barnard’s call for coeducation. Columbia administration
Columbia women
1882 A public meeting  and petition drive of the newly formed “Association for Promotion of Higher Education of Women” secures support from  1400 signatories of the so-called “monster petition.”. Not all signatories favored  coeducation. Women’s Higher education
1884 Columbia trustees allowed Wellesley graduate, Winifred Edgerton, to receive graduate instruction in astronomy under “special circumstances.”  She receives a PhD from the School of Mines in 1886. The first woman to do so. Columbia women



Columbia College opens a trustee-authorized “Collegiate Course for Women,” where women are provided separate instruction in subjects open to male undergraduates.

Among the women accepted to the second year of the Collegiate Course,  the 18-year-old  Annie Nathan. The Nathans were multi-generational New Yorkers  and Sephardic Jews. She withdrew after one semester upon marrying her older cousin, Dr. Alfred Meyer, becoming therafter  Annie Nathan Meyer.

Columbia women
1885 Bryn Mawr College opens in suburban Philadelphia, with  the financial backing of wealthy Quaker merchant Joseph Taylor. College had aspirations to becoming “a female Johns Hopkins.” The 5th of the Seven Sisters. Women’s Higher education
1887 Mount Holyoke Seminary (1837) rechartered as Mount Holyoke College. Makes it the 6th of the “Seven Sisters.” Women’s Higher education
1888 January 21 — Annie Nathan Meyer letter published  column in The Nation calling upon the Columbia trustees to open an affiliated  school for undergraduate women,  along the lines of Harvard’s  “Annex” in  1879. Women’s Higher education
1888 May 7 – At the same trustee meeting that the ailing President Barnard submitted his resignation, the Columbia board approved in principle  a separate women’s  “annex,” as long as it was financially self-sufficient. The trustees preferred this to countenancing continued pressure for coeducation. Women’s higher education
Barnard-Columbia  relations
1889 April 1 —  Columbia trustees approve resolution for the establishment of an affiliated college for women. Barnard College. Named  “Barnard College” in honor of the recently deceased Frederick A.P. Barnard. A 22-member Barnard Board of Trustees organized as per preliminary state charter.
Ella Weed, a Vassar graduate and headmistress of Miss Brown’s School for Girls,   one of the board’s 22 trsutees, designated the college’s paid administrative head, although not dean.
Barnard-Columbia relations


III. Early Barnard (1889-1911)
1889 October 7 – Barnard College  opens in a leased  4-story brownstone on 343 Madison Avenue between  East 44th and  45th Street, four blocks south of the Columbia College campus at Madison and 49th. Campus
1889-90 Fourteen students registered as  first-year  regular degree  students, another 22 as non-degree-pursuing “Specials,” doing special work in science. Five males hired from  Columbia teaching staff as instructors. Enrollments
1889 Financier and charter trustee, Jacob Schiff, becomes the College’s  first treasurer. He a leading merchant banker, East Side resident,  and head of City’s German Jewish community.  One of two Jewish members  on the original board. The other, Annie Nathan Meyer. Trustees
1889 Tuition set at $150.00 per year. Remains so to 1915. Tuition
1890 Barnard hires its first full-time faculty member, Emily L. Gregory, Cornell AB and Zurich PhD, when no one on Columbia faculty available to teach botany.  Appointed lecturer by Columbia. Gregory  to teach at Barnard until her death in 1897. Faculty
1890 Columbia reorganization into three graduate faculties (Philosophy; Pure Science; Political Science) with Faculty of Philosophy  prepared to  admit women for graduate study. Columbia professional schools
1891 Heir to a Brooklyn mairtime merchant’s fortune,  Seth Low becomes 11th president of Columbia; earlier as trustee had supported establishment of Barnard College. Wife joins Barnard board n 1890. Columbia relations
1891 November – Columbia trustees announce plan to move campus from East Side to Morningside Heights. Campus
1891 Barnard students establish chapter of a national fraternity, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Remains the only sorority until 1898.  Student Life
1892 Mary E. (Mrs. Van Wyck) Brinckerhoff , widow of prominent NYC merchant, offers Barnard  a matching gift of $100,000 to construct a building within 1000 feet of Columbia’s planned campus on Morningside Heights. Gift  through the solicitation of benefactor’s estate attorney,  and subsequent Barnard trustee, Frederick Wait. Finances


Students organize Undergraduate Association to provide a modicum of student self-governance.

March — Ella Weed successfully secures a gift of $5000 from merchant banker J.P. Morgan, declaring him a “founder” of Barnard College and offering same designation to any benefactor giving $5000 and up.

April — Jacob Schiff resigns as Treasurer, citing College’s financial difficulties.

June — Barnard College graduates its first class of 8 women.

Student Life
1894  July — Following  death of  Ella Weed in January 1894,  Emily James Smith,  a 29-year-old ryn Mawr graduate and PhD from the University of Chicago in Greek,  becomes Barnard’s first dean (1894-1900). Administration
1894 Publisher and original trustee  George A. Plimpton (1855-1936) succeeds Jacob Schiff as Barnard treasurer; holds position until death in 1936; the College’s principal fundraiser for four decades.

Plimpton launches site fund campaign to raise $140,000 to provide Morningside site for Brinckerhoff building

1895 Barnard trustees use site fund to buy  one city block of land at Broadway between  119th  and 120th Street, adjacent to the northwest corner of  planned Columbia campus and southwest of the planned Teachers College campus,  for $160,000.

Gift of $100,000 from newly appointed trustee Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, co-heir to the $32 million Jeremiah Milbank estate,  provides  permits the construction of  a second building, Milbank Hall. Anderson’s interest in Barnard stimulated by her minister, the Rev.  Arthur Brooks, an original Barnard trustee and first board chairman (1889-1894).

1895 Columbia president Seth Low anonymously donated $37,500 of  his own personal wealth to establish three endowed professorships at Barnard College, which would be held by senior outside appointees  who would provide instruction at both Columbia and Barnard. Gifts Faculty
1895 Chairs financed by Low filled by outside appointments of  John Bates Clark (political economy), James H. Robinson (history) and Frank N. Cole (mathematics). Faculty
Political Economy
1895 Graduates of classes of 1893 and 1894 organize Associate Alumnae of Barnard College Alumnae
 July — Rev. Arthur Brooks, first chairman of Barnard board of trustees, dies aboard ship returning from Europe. Abram Hewitt, civic leader, manufacturer and benefactor of Cooper Institute, becomes Board’s second chairman in 1897.
1897 May — Martha (Mrs. Josiah ) Fiske gives Barnard $140,000 to fund the third wing of the new building. Gifts
1897 October — Columbia College officially moves from its second campus in mid-town to its new campus on  Morningside Heights.
Barnard moves from Madison and 45th into its new U-shaped building named “Milbank Hall,” in honor of Anderson’s parents.  “Brinckerhoff Hall”  its east  wing housing science labs and a theatre, with under construction “Fiske Hall” its west wing.
1897 The yearbook, Mortarboard, begun by class of 1898. Earlier version called The Annual Student life
1897 Columbia’s Faculty of Pure Science opens some of its graduate courses to Barnard seniors. Columbia professional schools
 1898 Refusal of Kappa Kappa Gamma  sorority to admit a popular Jewish student leads to chartering of two additional  sororities.

Upon opening of Fiske Hall in fall 1989, its 3rd floor serves as temporary dormitory for 22 residential students. In 1901 space reverts to its original plan as  science laboratory.

1898 December – Barnard  with  debt of almost $130,000. A fund to eliminate the debt is launched by 2nd  board chairman Abram S. Hewitt, with his $10,000 gift. Over the next year the remaining $120,000 is secured, most of it given by Elizabeth Milbank Anderson ($34,000), John D. Rockefeller ($10,000; his wife briefly on the Barnard  board) and  J. P.   Morgan ($10,000). Finances
1898 Barnard trustees agree to have an alumnae trustee on the board; to be elected by the Associate Alumnae Association to four-year term. [Columbia does not similarly assure alumni representation  on its board  for another decade.] Trustees
1900 January 19  – Dean Emily James Smith (now Emily James Smith Putnam following her marriage ion 1899) and President Low reached  intercorporate  agreement by which Barnard becomes the “the undergraduate institution for women of Columbia University,” with its own board of trustees and faculty, some of whom also holding Columbia appointments. Barnard-Columbia relations
1900 February –Dean Smith/Putnam resigned upon announcing that she was pregnant.  History professor James Harvey Robinson became acting dean. Administration
1900 Barnard, along with Columbia College,  drops Greek as an entrance requirement; those for Latin, English and Math remain in place. Unintended consequence was to make more NYC public high school graduates qualified for admission. Entrance requirements
1900 March 15 — Barnard faculty holds its first faculty meeting,  comprised of professors  “whose office is at Barnard College and whose interests  are centered there.”  Includes 15 original members, all men, with 2 of the 14 “other officers of instruction” being women. Faculty  organized a “Committee on Curriculum and Scheme of Attendance,” later designated “Committee on Instruction.”” Faculty
1900 Estate of Daniel B. Fayerweather gives $100,000 to Barnard College as part of a wider multi- New York  college benefaction. Gifts
1901 May — Laura Drake Gill, Smith College and Sorbonne graduate (in mathematics),  becomes Barnard’s 2nd  dean. Her deanship a bumpy one, especially in her dealings withincoming  Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler and Teachers College. Administration
1901 November — John D. Rockefeller conditioned  a gift of $200,000, if Barnard  trustees could match it within 18 months. Match made with great effort by treasurer Plimpton  from  77 separate donors. Gift
1902 Barnard Bulletin commences publication as a weekly student newspaper. Student Life
1903 Barnard trustees purchase two blocks immediately south of original campus, between 116th and 118th Street, from New York Hospital,   with Elizabeth Milbank Anderson providing $1,000,000 to do so. The trustees later designated the property  “Milbank Quadrangle.” Campus now measures 200’ east/west and  725’ north/south, or 145,000 square feet (3.33 acres). Campus
1905 Barnard modified its curriculum in conformity with that of Columbia College. Requirements include 2 years of science, a half-year of logic and courses from 16 departments. Curriculum
1905 First building on southern part of the campus, the dormitory Brooks Hall, under construction. $500,000 cost covered  by Mrs. Anderson and named for her minister and original Barnard trustee, the Rev. Arthur Brooks. Building backed onto 116th Street with west side fronting Claremont Avenue, which had yet to be built upon. Brooks Hall opens in 1907.

Barnard Burasr N.W. Liggett complains to Traesure Plimpton about too many  NYC public high school graduates((aka Jews from immigrant families)  applying to Barnard, too few wealthy Protestant private schoolers.

1907 Gill resigns as dean after dispute with Columbia’s president Nicholas Murray Butler; Barnard English professor William T. Brewster becomes acting dean (1907-10) Administration
1907 Barnard now has eight Greek sororities, all but one with restrictions against Jews. Student  life
1908 Brewster and Barnard faculty produce a “Tentative Report” on College’s mission; establish a Committee of Instruction. Curriculum
1909 Barnard admissions procedures now to administered in conjunction with Columbia College and Engineering School under the direction of a University committee chaired by Adam Leroy Jones.
1910 Barnard College endowment $1,000,000. Operating budget of $160,000. Enrollments of 500

November — Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler offers Barnard trustees a merger proposal, in which Columbia would assume Barnard’s debt and take responsibility for its future. Some Barnard trustees favor plan, including its 3rd board chairman, Silas Brown Brownell, but Anderson and Milbank successfully oppose it.
Butler’s  fallback is to nominate Barnard graduate (Class of 1899) and Columbia English assistant professor  Virginia C. Gildersleeve, BC 1899

Last edit to here: 12/16/2018

IV. Dean Gildersleeve’s Barnard (1911 -1946)
1911 February — Virginia C. Gildersleeve, a 34-year old lecturer in the Columbia and Barnard English Departments , graduate of Barnard College (1899, majored in history) and Columbia PhD (1908), becomes Barnard’s 3rd dean. Had Butler’s backing. Administration
1911 Dean Gildersleeve inherits a Barnard with a $200,000 budget, a $33,000 deficit, and 514 students. Finances
1911 John S. Kennedy estate gives Barnard $150,000 at start of College’s “Quarter Century Fund,” which was seeking to raise $2,000,000 in endowment by 1914. Did not do so until 1920. Gifts
1912 Student Freda Kirchwey (BC 1913) launches campaign against sororities at Barnard.  All closed by 1915. Student life
1914 Heretofore twice-a-week required Chapel eliminated Student Life
1915 Barnard treasurer George A. Plimpton persuaded retiring Barnard trustee Horace W. Carpentier to give Barnard a $100,000 gift  for scholarships, ostensibly for Chinese students, but with the unused interest reverting to the general fund of The College for a general scholarship program. Gifts
1915 Tuition raised from $ 150 to $200. Finances
1916 Jacob Schiff gives $500,000, in celebration of his 50 years in America,  to cover  the construction costs of a new “Students’ Hall,” which  faced the Columbia campus and was open to Columbia women. Gifts
1917 February – Barnard Undergraduate Association voted against University’s recently revised position favoring intervention in the war in Europe. Student life
1917 October – University decisions about what constitutes support for war prompts resignations of Charles A. Beard and Henry D. Mussey, both of whom gave instruction at Barnard. Public service
Barnard geologist Ida Ogilvie heads up wartime Women’s Agricultural Camp in Bedford, NY,  where Barnard students engaged in farm work. Public service
1917 November — Presence of a gymnasium in new building led to creation of Department of Physical Education. Departments
Physical Education
1917 Columbia medical school admits its first Barnard applicant, Galli Lindh, ’17. Columbia professional schools
1917 Upon Horace Carpentier’s death,  Barnard received from his residual estate a second gift of $1,500,000, which   provided most of Barnard’s financial aid funding  into the 1950s. Gifts
1917 One year of Latin no longer required upon admission Students must earn 120 points to graduate. 52 points of requirements; 24 points in major; 12 points in minor Curriculum
1920s Enrollments stabilized at 1000; upwards of 40% of students started college elsewhere and then transferred to Barnard. Enrollments
1920 Tuition raised from $200 to $250; full professor salary range from $6000 to $8000 Tuition
Faculty compensation
1922 Columbia and Barnard switch arrangements from swapping hours of instruction to swapping tuition fees to cover cross registrations CU-BC relations
1922 Columbia and Barnard charged in the press with discriminating against Jewish applicants
1923 William T. Brewster steps down as provost; the office eliminated. Administration
1924 A second dormitory, Hewitt Hall, named for trustee chair  Abram Hewitt (1895-1900), under construction linked on its southern side  to Brooks Hall and extending along Claremont Avenue.  At opening of Hewitt only one in five Barnard students lived on campus. Campus
1924 Department of Anthropology organized; overseen by Columbia professor Franz Boas but directed by Gladys Reichard. Academic departments
1924 Department of Government organized upon appointment of Raymond Moley. Academic departments
Political Science
1925 Tuition charge changed to $8.00 per point to increase income by $30,000. Tuition
1926 Students’ Hall renamed “Barnard Hall.” Annie Nathan Meyer protests the implied snub of its deceased underwriter, Jacob Schiff. Buildings
1926 Department of Fine Arts organized with appointment of Norman Haring Academic departments
Art History Department
1926 Barnard revised its curriculum to emphasize its discipline-specific character, in contrast with Columbia College’s increased emphasis on general education and the “Core.” Curriculum
1927 Columbia law school admitted its first Barnard graduates. It did so at Gildersleeve’s urging. Columbia professional schools
1927 Summer School for Women Workers in Industry opened; continued until 1933 when closed because of expense Public service
1927 “Seven Women’s College of the East” organized for ostensible purpose of collective fundraising; later dubbed “the Seven Sisters.” Dean Gildersleeve a prime mover. Women’s higher education
Barnard admits its first black student, the 29-year-old Zora Neale Hurston, at trustee Annie Nathan Meyer’s urging and with her financial backing. Graduates with Class of 1928.  Students
1928 Music Department organized with the appointment of Douglas Moore as Associate Professor under the Joline Foundation. Academic Departments
1930 Tuition raised from $8.00 a point to $10.00. Full professor salaries in $7,500 to $12,000 range. Tuition
1933 Depression left Barnard dorms under-occupied;  financial aid needs up substantially Finances
1934 Federal Emergency Relief Administration funds used to employ students assisting faculty and staff Financial aid
1934 Alumnae launch first Annual Fund Fundraising
1934 Effort by trustee Annie Nathan Meyer to rename Barnard Hall after its donor, Jacob Schiff, rejected by Barnard trustees amidst charges of anti-Semitism  directed at trustees and administrators. Trustees
1935 Barnard acquired lot across from Milbank Hall on northeast corner of Claremont and 120th Street with Rosckefeller funding  for future expansion. “50th Anniversary Fund” undertaken to raise the needed $1 million by 1939. Campus
Fund raising
1935 Trustee Annie Nathan Meyer publishes Barnard Beginnings; criticized in review in Barnard Alumnae Monthly for being too self-referencing. Trustees
 1936  Treasure George Plimpton died; College assets then at $9.25 million  Trustees
1939 50th Anniversary Fund struggles to meet its goal of raising $1 million. Fundraising
1939 Barnard celebrates its 50th anniversary; marked by publication of Barnard College: the First Fifty Years, by Alice Duer Miller and Susan Myers. Intended as a counter to Annie Nathan Meyer’s Barnard Beginnings (1935). Celebration
1939 Barnard faculty pioneers in establishing interdepartmental majors in Medieval Studies and American Studies. Curriculum
American Studies
Medieval Studies

Last updated: April 24, 2017
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