Mary Caroline Crawford.

The college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is online

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The College Girl of America

Works of

Mary Caroline Crawford

The Romance of Old New Eng-
land Roof trees . ♦ . . $1.50

The Romance of Old New Eng-
land Churches ♦ • . ♦ J.50

The College Girl of America, net J. 60

postpaid J»75


New England Building

Boston, Mass.



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BOSTON i:? tib 'l:^ 1905

OCT 28 1904




-1 -'

Copyright^ igo4
By L. C. Page & Company


All rights reserved

Published October, 1904


Electroiyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds &* Co.

Boston, Mass., U.S.A.


SlUce jfrecman palmer


" Hers was a life in industry and energy marvellous
and undaunted, dedicated to large and ever larger
uses, and inspired from first to last by the loftiest
ideality." — Richard Watson Gilder,


The college girl is to-day a force second to none
in American life. She it is who will mould the
minds, modify the manners, and help raise the
moral tone of the men and women of the future.
And she will do this not merely through her school-
teacher function, — though there, of course, her in-
fluence must be tremendous, — not chiefly through
the relation of wife and mother, though that, too,
is of vast importance, but principally and above all,
I believe, through lier every-day intercourse with
those about her, as the friend of her chosen inti-
mates, the companion of her chance associates, and
the comrade of her fellow workers. The kind of
influence any college girl exerts is, of course, deter-
mined in great measure by the kind of woman that
she is. And the kind of woman that she is depends
very largely, in these days, upon the social and
intellectual atmosphere of the college from which
she has been graduated. All these colleges, it may

vi Introduction

at once be said, are religious in their conception
and tone. People outside the college gates have
worried a good deal latterly over this matter, but
their anxiety, it would appear, has been quite un-
necessary, for the college girl certainly finds relig-
ious training of some kind, and usually of a very
good kind, in college. But the sort of social and
intellectual training she receives depends vastly
upon the institution. For that reason it has seemed
to me worth while to study with some care here
life in the different women's colleges of first rank
in this country.

So far as has been possible, — depending as one
must upon the latest reports made to the Commis-
sioner of Education (two years back in many cases),
— the colleges have all been presented in the order
of their present student enrolment, — with the one
exception of Simmons College, which has been
placed at the end because it does not yet give the
degree, as do the others here chosen for representa-

I have taken for granted in this book the value
of a college training for girls. If that question has
not yet been settled, as I believe it has, it is not
the province of this particular work to settle it.
Into the debate as to the " unsexing " which may
come upon American womanhood as a result of

Introduction vii

college life, I have chosen, too, not to enter. The
world in general, I think, has come quite sufficiently
to the belief of Mr. George Herbert Palmer, pro-
fessor of philosophy in Harvard University, who
put himself on record some time ago to the effect
that if a woman cannot stand a college training it
speaks pretty badly for her womanly qualities. " I
have no use," he said, pithily, '' for womanhood that
won't wash."

The fact of the matter is that college, far from
hurting girls, helps them more than people in gen-
eral have any means of knowing. Old President
Quincy of Harvard once declared that a man got
a good deal out of college if he just nibbed his |
shoulders against the college building. A woman
may be said to get a good deal out of college even
if she never gets further than the entrance exam-
inations. For during those few hours, at least, she
has had the advantage of standing shoulder to
shoulder with representative young women of all
localities, bound together by a common interest, and
bent upon a common intellectual end. As to the
girl who has really entered college and lived its
varied life, all that she gets from her associates
could not be written in many books the size of this
one. From the Southern girl, beside whom she
trains in the gymnasium, she acquires without

viii Introduction

knowing it a hint of the angle of vision peculiar
to that part of our country; from the Westerner,
who sings next her in the Glee Club, she learns what
a small thing it is to judge people by their family,
instead of by character and attainment; from the
millionaire's daughter she discerns the futility of
wealth as a covering for vulgarity, and by knowing
the ambitious New England girl, whose poverty
makes her only more proud, she comes to regard
with proper reverence those families of austere life
and lofty thinking who have been poor country
ministers for generations, perhaps. In adjusting
herself to so many types, she grows, perforce, dem-
ocratic; and it is the most important thing, of all
important things, in this, our country, that women
should be democratic.

Again, the college woman is especially valuable
to the world as an exponent of culture. The future
of American culture depends on the women. They
alone have the leisure for it. And upon the college
woman who has been laying up stores of intel-
lectual wealth rests the duty of redeeming the over-
commercial tone Americans are in danger of ac-
quiring. The value of the discipline of college, too,
is a thing which should not be ignored. But more
important than anything else — perhaps because
up to the present its importance has been largely

Introduction ix

overlooked — is the training- in poise college may
and should give a girl. The daughter of a me-
chanic frequently becomes in this country the
mother of our most distinguished citizen, — not to
mention her possible relationship to the English
nobility. College, then, should turn her out '' fit "
for whatever life shall bring.

It is, however, to a figure used by Mr. Hamilton
Wright Mabie, in a graduation address which he
gave last year, that I must resort to define the par-
ticular object of this book. Mr. Mabie spoke of
sitting in a sheltered sunny shipyard, watching the
men at work upon a great schooner. In that quiet
spot there was no suggestion of the ocean that lay
not far beyond, only the sunshine and the blue sky
and the steady, rhythmic sound of the workmen's
tools. Yet this was a most important period in the
ship's life; every nail that was driven home true
would one day help her out there upon the stormy
sea to withstand wind and rain. The time would
come when every stroke deftly dealt now would tell
tremendously for better or for worse. For this was
the time of preparation. Because college, too, is a
time of preparation, conditions there during the
building of the girl are of importance. Different
temperaments, different needs, require, of course,
different things. It is my hope that this volume

X Introduction

may, in some cases, at least, assist the fitting of
the particular temperament to the institution which
can best help it to sane, sound womanhood.

It but remains to acknowledge, with gratitude,
the kindly help generously given me by friends all
over the country; and particularly to express my
indebtedness to the publishers of the Century Mag-
azine, — by whose gracious permission I have been
enabled to reproduce here portions from their " Fes-
tivals in Women's Colleges," — to the New England
Magazine for credited extracts, and to the editors
of the Outlook, for allowing me here to reprint the
substance of an article on " New Occupations for
Educated Women," which I contributed to their

publication last year. M. c. C

Charlestown, Massachusetts, /««^, igo4.



Introduction • • v

Smith College i

Wellesley College 31

Vassar College 54

Mt. Holyoke College 71

Radcliffe College 96

Bryn Mawr College 118

Barnard College 130

The Woman's College of Baltimore . . . 144

The Randolph - Macon Woman's College . . 1 54

The Woman's College in Brown University . 163

Elmira College 170

Wells College . . 183

RocKFORD College 194

Mills College 206

Simmons College 217

Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South . 225

Coeducational Colleges of the West . . 242

Coeducational Colleges of the East . , . 279

After College — What 291

Conclusion 309

Index 315

xiv List of Illustrations


Centre Pavilion, Main Building . . . .148

A Randolph - Macon Girl 154

The College Building. — The Gymnasium . .156

A Brown Girl 163

Class - day Procession. — Basket - ball Team. —

The " Komians " 168

An Elmira Girl 170

The First Class to Graduate from a Woman's
College in America. — The First College

Degree Ever Given a Woman in America . 172

Basket-ball Team 187

A Rockford Girl 194

A Group of Mills Seniors 206

Basket-ball Team. — A Ride With "Michael,

THE Faithful" 210

Simmons College Building 219

Main Entrance to Newcomb College. — New-
comb College Chapel 228

The Pottery Department, Newcomb College. —

A Painting Class, Newcomb College . . 230

Golf Links, University of Missouri . . . 232
A Basket-ball Contest, Hollins Institute. —

A Coasting Party, Hollins Institute . .235
Parlour at Mary Baldwin Seminary. — Golf

Links at Mary Baldwin Seminary . . 236

A Coeducated Girl of the West .... 242

Basket-ball Team, University of Nebraska . 254

A Cooking Class, University of Illinois . . 262

A Group of Seniors, Kansas State University 268
Inaugural Procession, Oberlin. — Severance

Laboratory, Oberlin 274

A Coeducated Girl of the East . • • . 279

A Chafing-dish Party, Cornell . • . . 282

A Wesleyan Girl 289


College Girl of America


Few acts possible to humanity are more noble
than to provide for generations to come privileges
and rich opportunities for which one has oneself
longed all through life in vain. The men who have
founded colleges have usually lacked the culture a
college course gives, and, from the nature of things,
no college-bred woman has yet started an institu-
tion for the higher education of girls. But of the
women of limited education who have thus served
young womanhood, no other has left so plain a
record of her own keen sense of what she missed
as Sophia Smith, founder of Smith College. To
her clergyman, the Rev. John M. Greene, D. D.,
who had proposed to her that she bequeath her
generous fortune to found this woman's college,

2 The College' Girl of America

she replied, as she accepted his suggestion : " I
wish I could have enjoyed the advantages of such
a college when I was a girl; it would have made
my life far richer and happier than it has been."

Yet Sophia Smith was born and reared under
a fortunate star, and had a satisfactory life — as
life used to be regarded. Her paternal ancestor in
the sixth generation was Lieutenant Samuel Smith,
one of the most prominent of the original settlers
in Hadley, from whom, it is very interesting to
know, Mary Lyon, the founder of Mt. Holyoke
Seminary, now Mt. Holyoke College, also traced
descent. Hatfield, Miss Smith's lifelong home, was
noted for its scholars. That it did not itself be-
come a college town is rather curious, inasmuch as
all its ambitions tended in that direction. Back
in Colonial days the citizens of the place even went
so far as to erect a building which they called
" Queen's College," and for which the governor,
Sir Francis Bernard, issued a charter in King
George's name. But, yielding to the opposition
strongly brought to bear upon him, Sir Francis
later cancelled his permission — and Hatfield lost
its college. Yet when Sophia Smith was born, four
years before the birth of the wonderful nineteenth
century, the aspiration for a college had by no means
died out of the town.

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Smith College 3

It was not until this woman had reached the age
of sixty-five, however, that she really took the first
decisive step in the matter concerning which she,
and those about her, had so long been earnestly
thinking. Her brother Austin had just died, and
left her a large sum of money, which she neither
wanted nor knew how to use wisely. She had no
objects in mind to which she desired to give her
fortune, but she knew that her own method of life
would never make great inroads upon it, and that
a very good sum would, therefore, be available for
some use when she should die. All this she con-
fided, on a beautiful May day in 1861, to her pastor,
whom she had sought out for advice about the
matter of a will. For hours the two talked in the
quaint, book-lined parsonage study, and she would
not go away until Doctor Greene had promised to
help her carefully to the choice of a proper bene-

Accordingly, after several weeks of study and
research, the good minister matured two plans for
the disposition of Miss Smith's property. The prin-
cipal item in one was the founding of a woman's
college; the chief provision of the other was for
a deaf-mute institution. There was then no
woman's college in New England, and not many
of the leading educators were ready to give young

4 The College Girl of America

women educational advantages equal to those pro-
vided for young men. Yet, when the two plans
were presented to Miss Smith, after very little de-
lay, she decided to accept the one which provided
for the college. The idea pleased her. " She had
faith in it," Doctor Greene records, " as desirable
and feasible."

That she was, however, " but yet a woman " is
very plain from what followed. Because the out-
side discouragement was so great, the will of 1861,
when eventually made, provided for the deaf-mute
institution instead of for the college. None the
less, it would appear that Sophia Smith was Heaven-
ordained to start the project toward which her
heart yearned. For, six years later, a rich man
of Northampton having liberally provided for the
deaf mutes. Miss Smith felt quite at liberty to fol-
low her own desires. Accordingly, the will was
changed ; an able body of trustees was chosen, and,
on July II, 1868, the quiet Hatfield gentlewoman
became the founder of what is now the largest girls'
college in the country.

From the very first Miss Smith understood that
her college would embody four cardinal principles :
(i) The educational advantages provided by it
would be equal to those afforded young men in
their colleges; (2) Biblical study and Christian

Smith College 5

religious culture would be given prominence; (3)
The cottage system of buildings, or homes for the
students, instead of one mammoth central building,
would prevail; (4) Men would have a part in the
government and instruction in it as well as women,
" for it is a misfortune for young women or young
men to be educated wholly by their own kind."
These four ideas were in Miss Smith's mind, and
were clearly expressed in the documents connected
with the founding of the college.

Of course a scheme so large and broad as this
one was of small growth. At one time the plan
even was to have the college in Hatfield, — so long
kept waiting for such distinction, — but afterward,
at the suggestion of Mr. Greene, Miss Smith's ever-
trusted helper in the matter, the site was changed
to Northampton. To people generally, no word
was dropped concerning the plan. But in Hatfield,
as in all small New England towns, curiosity is a
master passion, and, during the last years of Miss
Smith's life, the most interesting of all questions
among the village folk was, " Who will get her
money?" A silence like that of the sphinx, how-
ever, brooded over the mystery. Occasionally a
stranger would come, by stage or carriage, to the
old tavern near the Smith home, go to the house
for a few hours, and then steal away as silently

6 The College Girl of America

as he came, leaving no name behind. The few vil-
lage folk who saw these visitors said they looked
like preachers or lawyers. Nobody thought of them
as suitors. For, though Miss Smith was not an
unattractive woman, all felt that her strong and
reticent life would never be shared by another in

The life led in Hatfield by this New England
gentlewoman has been interestingly sketched for us
by one who knew her well.^ For years Austin
Smith and a sister Harriet lived with Sophia in the
substantial old home their father had left them.
Austin was a shrewd man of business, honest, keen,
and upright in his dealings. Harriet was kind and
intelligent. Both sisters, however, were economical
in their habits, and quiet and reticent, though neigh-
bourly. They gave for charity and for such relig-
ious purposes as came within the scope of the Hat-
field church, where they were constant attendants,
but they never made large gifts or revealed any
especial interest in the higher education of women.
That was Sophia's secret. The sisters were quite
deaf, and this naturally led them to lives of thought
and retirement. The village library, not large, but
of choice books, offered a wide range of study, by

* Giles B. Stebbins in New England Magazine.

Smith College 7

which means their somewhat Hmited education was

'' About twice a year, however, the Smith sisters
made a party, inviting some fifty of the young and
middle-aged. The tall wax candles, the great brass
andirons, the bright open fires, the solid mahogany
furniture, the silver tea-service, the old china, the
fragrant tea, the delicate and perfect home-made
biscuit and cake of these occasions all gave the
fortunate visitors a gracious glimpse of old-time
gentility. Then, once a year, for a long while, the
three occupants of the house went to Saratoga for
a few weeks. While there they came so near the
fashionable world, in equipage and dress, as to say
by their acts : ' We have a good right to be as
brave and fine as you are; we can if we choose.'
Thus they had views of life in these aspects, and
then dropped back in quiet content to their plain
village ways."

Sophia lived longer than either her brother or her
sister, and it was not until she passed away in 1870,
at the age of seventy- four, that the secret of her life
became known. Her estate, appraised at $500,000,
went almost entirely to the college for which she had
designed it, and in September, 1871, the first build-
ing acquired by Smith was purchased at a cost of
$26,000, and at the same time a committee was

8 The College Girl of America

appointed to select a president. The building in
question was the homestead of Judge Dewey, and
it is still on the grounds of Smith College. The
president chosen was Rev. Lauremus Clark Seelye,
LL. D., and he still holds this office. It was not
until June 17, 1873, however, that Professor Seelye
really became the president. He declined the first
offer, because of the inadequate funds then at the
disposal of the trustees.

Very carefully, in the beginning, as ever since,
Mr. Seelye consulted the best good of the college
he was to organize. After a survey of existing
institutions for the higher education of women in
this country and abroad, and consultation with the
leading educators of the time, he determined that
the college should have no preparatory department
connected with it, and should be on a par intellectu-
ally with the standard colleges for men. He further
decided that it should be distinctively a college for
women, a place where girls should have superior op-
portunities for developing and perfecting womanly
characteristics. Hitherto no college for women had
been started without a preparatory department;
none had required Greek for entrance ; and in the
majority of them,, both the quantity and quality of
the work demanded was little more, and often less,
than that accomplished in the best secondary schools.













Smith College 9

Even Vassal", the only existing college for women
worthy of the name, was encumbered with a large
preparatory department, and had not ordained such
entrance requirements as obtained in the best col-
leges for men.

Probably there could not have been found in the
length and breadth of the country a man better fitted
for the development of this college than President
Seelye. Born in Bethel, Connecticut, September
20, 1837, he was graduated from Union College
when scarcely twenty. A period of study at
Andover and in the universities of Berlin and
Heidelberg followed; and then he settled down
— having married Henrietta Sheldon Chapin, of
Albany, New York — as pastor of the North Con-
gregational Church, in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Two years later, however, Mr. Seelye proceeded to
a chair at Amherst College, where, from 1865 until
his coming to Smith, he presided over the depart-
ments of rhetoric and English literature. Birth,
education, and experience had all combined, it will
be observed, to make this head of Smith College
exactly the kind of man the founder would have
chosen for the place. College Hall, the first aca-
demic building, was finished and dedicated July 14,
1875 ; and the president was then formally inaugu-
rated into the office which he had practically filled

10 The College Girl of America

for two years. At a quarter before nine, September
9, 1875, the college opened at morning prayers with
four residing teachers and fourteen students.

It required some strength of purpose for a woman
to go to college in those days, and the girls who
went to Smith at its opening were of extraordinary
mental calibre, as well as the daughters of refined
homes, where good breeding and high social ideals
had been dominant. The same thing may be said
about the girls who go to this college to-day. For
the trustees have adhered with unwavering fidelity
to the ideal they set at the beginning, and the high
standard of scholarship and womanliness with which
Smith began its life has never been lowered.

The first thing that impresses the visitor to
Northampton is the remarkable good looks of the
Smith College girls, who practically own the town
from September till the last of June. No particular
type of beauty can be said to prevail, for the girls
come, and always have come, from Maine to Cali-
fornia and Oregon. But one reads on their fine open
faces that the majority of them are here, not to
follow a fashion nor to win a livelihood, but
" to become intelligent women — better qualified for
whatever time or eternity may bring." The rich and
the poor are alike welcome, and while it is true that
many wealthy girls go each year to Smith College,

Smith College li

it is likewise true that there are always dozens, not
to say scores, of girls here who are earning their
way, and exercising great self-denial for the sake
of their education. No discrimination has ever been
made at Smith socially or academically on account
of money or its lack. There are, of course, expen-
sive as well as moderate and meagre modes of liv-

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 1 of 18)