Vassar College is celebrating 150 years today. The Poughkeepsie Journal noted that Matthew Vassar, a brewer, established Vassar Female College in 1861. The name was changed in 1867 to Vassar College after Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Ladies Book, corresponded with Matthew Vassar about changing the name.
In Vassar’s infancy, there was a variety of public perceptions about an education institution dedicated to educating women. Dr. Edward Clarke of Harvard Medical School wrote in his book titled Sex in Education; Or a Fair Chance for Girls: “Women who choose to do so can master the humanities and the mathematics, encounter the labor of the law and the pulpit, endure the hardness of physic and the conflicts of politics; but they must do it all in woman’s way, not in man’s way. In all their work they must respect their own organization, and remain women, not strive to be men, or they will ignominiously fail.”
Though Vassar College became a co-educational institution, the mission: to furnish “the means of a thorough, well-proportioned, and liberal education” remains the same.
Is there still a place for all-women colleges today? What do women gain or lose by choosing to attend women’s colleges? Share your thoughts in the comments below.