University of Rochester History: Chapter 13, Enter the Ladies

ENTER THE LADIES

The University "offers to young women of Rochester and vicinity," reads an official announcement published in the 1914 Croceus, yearbook of the women undergraduates at the U. of R., "all the essential elements of the best college training at a comparatively Low cost.

"The instruction, library, and laboratories are open to women on the same conditions as to men, and the same thorough discipline and broad culture is furnished them in the studies of the curriculum.

"The young women of Rochester are developing a college life of their own which finds expression in the various social, literary, religious, musical and dramatic organizations, and is reflected in the pages of the Croceus."1

This statement crystallized the outcome of a lengthy struggle, a discouraging, resourceful, triumphant struggle against heavy odds to obtain equality in collegiate training beside the Genesee for the feminine half of society. A great deal had been written and said about the physical and intellectual inability of women to profit from collegiate training and the folly of diverting them from preparation for household responsibilities--woman's, proper sphere--to book-learning. Opponents of collegiate coeducation quoted approvingly a French proverb: "A chicken that crows, a priest who dances, and a woman, who speaks Latin are all headed for trouble." They reasoned that lady undergraduates would not only "feminize" the institution, but would lower academic standards, because "the weaker vessels" could not endure the physical strain of the rigorous study required of men. Advanced education, it was also argued, would somehow rob women of feminine charm and gentleness, coarsen or even destroy the finer sensibilities of the gentler sex. Like so much else in the texture of the American way of life, conventions inherited from Europe shaped attitudes on mature learning for women. Higher education had emerged and progressed when teachers were men in holy orders, when cloisters were the places of instruction, and when the philosophy prevailed that preservation of purity required separation of the sexes in the area of learning.

Nonetheless, in 1900, medieval traditions and rooted convictions along with deep-seated prejudices were surmounted in winning admission of women to the U. of R. It was a broadly--though not a universally--approved victory for the general cause of feminism, a bright and shining hallmark of western society in the last century. Sympathetic imagination and mutual understanding had brought about considerable adjustments, a mellower posture, little by little, in masculine mental habits.

British influences touched off a feminist commotion in the United States in the 1840's, awakened a few spirited ladies and sophisticated men to the inequity--yes, the absurdity--of withholding from women rights and advantages accorded to males. At the time, women were underprivileged in law and in fact unequal in a country that gloried in being the land of equal opportunity. Even in well-to-do families, education for girls, beyond dancing, the cultivation of the social graces, and inculcation of moral virtues, was regarded as superfluous. A modest impetus to reform was imparted by a Women's Rights Convention, the first of its kind in history, which met on July 19, 1848, at Seneca Falls, New York, only fifty miles away from Rochester. Crusading feminists drafted there a "Declaration of Sentiments," imitative of the celebrated document of 1776. Among the major grievances listed were the limitations upon higher educational opportunities for the gentler sex; and it was stridently demanded that the handicaps should be speedily removed.

Forward-looking American women educators, it is true, had established several superior schools or "seminaries" for girls. At Troy, New York, for instance, Emma Willard founded in 1821 a renowned female seminary, and in 1837 diminutive Mary Lyon started at South Hadley, Massachusetts, an institution that in the fullness of time grew into Mount Holyoke College. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, some three score American schools of this sort were offering instruction to girls.

On a more mature level, Oberlin College from its beginnings in the 1830's welcomed women on the basis of equality with males--in the preparatory department in 1833 and four years later in the college course. Several young ladies from the Rochester area who studied at Oberlin in its first decades developed into earnest advocates of feminine emancipation. Other Ohio institutions straightway copied the revolutionary Oberlin experiment in "joint education." Among the state universities, Iowa pioneered (1856) in authorizing the enrollment of "the neglected sex" alongside of men; first in the normal department and then in work for the baccalaureate. Coeducation there, it was presently announced, had proved an "incitement to every virtue." This disclosure helped to deflate a widely held calculation that the education of young men and women together would not only invite but would encourage immature behavior.

Before the Civil War, too, colleges exclusively for women had been organized, one at Elmira, New York, chartered in 1852 (originally for Auburn), claiming priority. At LeRoy, New York--thirty miles from Rochester--an interesting Ingham University evolved as a women's college in 1857 out of a regional seminary opened twenty years earlier. A full course of study in the 1880's lasted four years and degrees were granted, but the record of this first "university" for women only was chequered, and in 1892 it folded up. After 1861, Vassar (with which officers of the U. of R. had close connections), Wells, Smith, Wellesley, and Bryn Mawr Colleges appeared in rather rapid succession, and they recruited their faculties from both sexes. Curricula in the main slavishly paralleled the traditional classical offerings in colleges for men.

No doubt, the role that women played during the Civil War as farm workers and teachers on the home front, as cooks, laundresses, spies, couriers, would-be Joans of Arc, but especially as nurses, accelerated the progress of the feminist interest as a whole and of higher education for women in particular. Increasingly, though slowly, influential leaders of thought concerned with the promotion of the general welfare and with "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" took to heart an admonition of Abigail Adams. "It is fashionable to ridicule female learning," the wife of the second President of the United States told an unsympathetic audience, "but if we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers we should have learned women." It was the restless pen of Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame--and much else) which contended: "A woman well bred and well taught, furnished with the additional accomplishments of knowledge and behaviour, is a creature without comparison... and the man that has such a one to his portion has nothing to do but to rejoice in her and be thankful." Sanguine American reformers envisaged the coming of the millennium if and when women were afforded equal opportunities for collegiate education with men.

Scarcely had Cornell University opened its doors than Rochester's most determined feminist, Susan B. Anthony, in an address on the Ithaca campus prophesied that if and when women were allowed to enroll equally with men future generations would celebrate the event as fervently as they commemorated the Fourth of July or the birth of Christ. The Cornell authorities set up a college for women (1875), but male students for more than a quarter of a century frankly resented the presence of the fair sex and tended to hold aloof from them. As early as 1884 a woman matriculated in the Cornell school of engineering--Miss Kate Gleason, of Rochester, who subsequently shared in the operation of her family's industrial plant in the Flower City. In 1895, Martha Carey Thomas, an early graduate of Cornell and president of Bryn Mawr College, was named the first woman trustee of her Alma Mater.

At Syracuse University, too, which was coeducational from its beginning (1871), the "superior sex" responded with less than courtly gentility to their female counterparts. Although significant hostility persisted for years, by the mid-1880's "snuggling" and no little lovemaking become fashionable on the campus of the Salt City institution. 2

II

Two years after the founding of the U. of R., an adventure in mature education for women was started in the Flour City. Known as the Rochester Female College or the Barleywood Female University, the institution enlisted the backing of community leaders, several of whom--Professors Chester Dewey and John H. Raymond, John N. Wilder, Lewis Henry Morgan, and Azariah Boody--had intimate bonds with the U. of R. Morgan issued a prospectus appealing for subscriptions, now in our archives, containing the following statement: "The want of suitable endowments not only prevents the multiplication of female seminaries of the highest grade, but also precludes them from bearing any comparison with our colleges and universities. There is no good reason why female education should not be as thorough, as systematic, and also as cheap as it is in our colleges; or why female seminaries should not bear with them a favorable comparison. The only way to build up such institutions, and to make them instruments of widespread usefulness is to secure to them large, liberal, and permanent endowments." Boody, president of the Barleywood trustees, donated a site for college buildings with the stipulation that construction should be undertaken promptly. For a brief, a very brief period the bold venture flourished, yet it came to grief, apparently because of financial stringencies. However that may be, the Barleywood records end abruptly in 1853, and the Boody property was then given, it may be recalled, to the U. of R. The enlightened 1852 enterprise "Was neither too little nor too late, but too radical and too soon." 3

The earliest allusions in U. of R. literature to higher education for women appear in student publications of the early 1870's, just when Syracuse and Cornell Universities had admitted women. "A tidal wave of controversy" over coeducation was sweeping the United States, it was commented, and an undergraduate writer, who opposed the entry of women at the U. of R. recited standard arguments for the position he took. Coeducation would necessitate undesirable curricular changes, it was contended, impose limitations on professorial freedom of expression in the classroom, and distract males from serious academic work. The presence of women students, moreover, would not elevate the moral tone of the institution. Higher learning, finally, would "impair the grace and delicacy so essential... to womanhood" and would tend to foster masculine traits in the fair sex.

It would be quite wrong, however, to regard U. of R. men as misogynists. For instance, the editors of the 1878 Interpres dedicated the yearbook "to the editors' best girls with the earnest hope that these humble pages may inspire in them a more exalted conception of mankind in general, and especially of that kind of man which is represented by--The Editors."

The opinion of President Anderson on college training for women is obliquely suggested in a remark he made on returning from a visit to Vassar: "Just think of it, four hundred girls cackling all at once." After hearing a lecture on higher education for women, Anderson commented that the speaker had avoided "the real difficulties of the problem: the impropriety of giving instruction on women in 1871 remains a mystery the relations of the sexes and the difficulty of giving true feminine culture in connection with the average college recitation room whose tone and character will be determined by rough young men." How he reconciled that position with the decision of his own cherished Alma Mater to welcome women in 1871 remains a mystery.

A fresh effort in 1873 by Dr. Edward Mott Moore and Lewis Henry Morgan to raise money to establish a college for women in the Flower City failed dismally. It had been planned in a general way to locate the projected college near the University and to have the same professors teach in both institutions. Moore declared, presumably with substantial evidence, that Anderson was heartily in sympathy with the undertaking; yet, since the financial pledges were far smaller than needed, the scheme was quickly abandoned. Later, the executive board of the U. of R. trustees, on Moore's initiative, debated the admission of women students without reaching a verdict. 4

On the other hand, in the late 'seventies young women were permitted to attend Saturday morning lectures by Anderson on art, by Gilmore on English literature, and by Lattimore on chemistry. The popularity of this innovation, as witnessed by the attendance, prompted an undergraduate editor to write, "By opening its doors to ladies our University would secure what it most needs, more students and more money." Fifteen ladies, he reasoned, could easily be accommodated without causing congestion in classrooms. By 1881, four women, two of them from the Lattimore and Quinby faculty families, had registered as special students in chemistry. As already noted, in his will, probated in 1881, Lewis Henry Morgan, a lifelong advocate of higher learning for women in Rochester, bequeathed his residuary estate to that purpose; yet if the bequest (whose proceeds, due to legal complications, did not become available for more than a quarter century) stirred public discussion, no traces of it have been preserved. 5

III

In Rochester, as elsewhere, the crusade for women's rights was preponderantly an urban phenomenon of the better educated, more enlightened elements of society. In the mid 'eighties Rochester ladies belonging to the Fortnightly Ignorance Club, whose cherished goal, like that of other feminist societies in the community, was full equality with males, initiated agitation for coeducation at the U. of R. and began to raise money to pay for the training of women. Probably on financial grounds for the most part, President Anderson frowned upon the movement. Once started, however, the campaign was kept going until the University trustees agreed at last that the University should do its part in educating young women for their multiple roles in the ever-changing American society.

The feminist cause as a whole was given a boost in 1890 when Wyoming, the first state to grant full suffrage rights to women, was admitted to the Federal Union; neighboring states soon followed the Wyoming precedent. Yet foes of the principle of the equality of the sexes dismissed what had been done merely as confirmatory evidence of the wildness and woolliness of the West.

Hardly had David Jayne Hill assumed the presidential office than several societies of Rochester ladies--what became the Women's Political Equality Club, the Women's Ethical Club, the Y. W. C. A., and other groups--intensified the demand for coeducation and requested that the University trustees indicate how much money would be required. Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Mary T. L. Gannett, wife of the Unitarian minister, and Mrs. Max Landsberg, wife of the rabbi at B'rith Kodesh, marshalled the forces of embattled feminism. At that point, over 280 coeducational colleges existed in the United States, or approximately two out of every three institutions of higher learning in the country.

While the University faculty overwhelmingly favored the admission of women and the trustees were reportedly sympathetic, influential alumni voices loudly condemned the very idea of coeducation. Hill, who as president of the University of Lewisburg (later Bucknell) had witnessed the admission of women to collegiate status (1883), adopted a somewhat ambiguous posture in Rochester. He ascribed the clamor to parents who could not afford to send their daughters away to study and to the militant disciples of Miss Anthony, of whom he was not overly fond. While unwilling to commit himself on coeducation, the President expressed approval in principle of a coordinate college for women, similar to newly created institutions associated with Harvard (Radcliffe) and Columbia (Barnard). Yet the trustees would not be willing to embark on a venture of this character, Hill felt sure, unless indispensable funds were first made available. Undaunted, Miss Anthony, ever the optimist, countered that if women were permitted to matriculate, the money needed for a larger faculty and more academic facilities would assuredly flow in.

"Will the door be opened?" inquired a Rochester newspaper headline of June 13, 1890. That query was followed by a petition on coeducation, addressed to the University corporation, which might be signed by interested citizens at several city stores. The petition asked that the U. of R. should be opened to women without discrimination and it made the obvious point that coeducation prevailed in the learning process through the secondary school. Since one in six students at American colleges was a woman, "We believe that coeducation is no longer regarded as a doubtful experiment," the document asserted. "Harvard with its annex, Columbia with its Barnard College, Cornell, Syracuse, and other institutions--all report satisfactory results." There was no reason under the sun why the experience elsewhere should not be duplicated beside the Genesee. About 225 "prominent" Rochesterians, representing all walks of life, attached their names to the petition. 6

Nothing positive resulted from this gambit. The trustees, after examining the proposition, simply resolved to postpone a decision, but the drive by the energetic women's rights organizations went on; a second petition attracted about 500 signatures. Undergraduate opinion, as expressed in the Campus, was "hostile to the admission of females to this most sacred institution." In a satirical vein, one unsympathetic correspondent explained, "Women can't kick" and therefore they would be entirely out of place at the U. of R. "This is not a matrimonial agency. Think of a Professor of Stocking Darning... " Coeducation at Syracuse was lampooned as a "piteous wreck" and colleges for women exclusively it was contended, were plentiful enough to instruct all ladies who wished advanced training. Education of women alongside of men, protested a letter-writer, would tend "to make girls free and bold. What are you going to do with such classes as Juvenal if we have coeducation? Just get a copy of Juvenal and read it."

Another undergraduate inquired:

Do we want coeducation?
No, I reckon that we don't;
Girls may do in Life for partners--
On Parnassus' Mount they won't.


It required six more stanzas for this rhymster to unburden himself fully. Not to be outdone, a student friendly to the admission of women retorted with an eruption that ran into twenty-one verses, and was entitled "Women Haters."

Now I don't purtend to learnin',
But I know almighty sure
That the women is the people
That'll make the world endure.


In October, 1891, some 200 guests, leading University personalities and other influential citizens among them, attended a reception at the Anthony home in honor of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an earnest woman's rights champion of national repute. Barbed attacks were levelled against the U.of R. for denying admittance to women. "It was rather aggravating to contemplate those fine buildings and grounds," Mrs. Stanton later wrote, "while every girl in that city must go abroad for higher education. The wife of President Hill of the University had just presented him with twins, a girl and a boy, and he facetiously remarked 'that if the Creator could risk placing sexes in such near relations, he thought they might with safety walk on the same campus and pursue the same curriculum together.' " Learning of this episode, American comic papers gave it lavish publicity, to the unfeigned delight of the ladies in the case.

Certainly Hill had just become the father of twins and certainly at the Anthony party he gave his blessing to the entry of women, and Professor Lattimore echoed the President. Trustee Edward Mott Moore also endorsed that view, yet he reminded the guests that U. of R. graduates were strongly opposed to coeducation and that a minimum of $200,000 would be required for additional instructional facilities. Loud protests greeted his observation that it was more important to educate men, the breadwinners of families, than women.

On an earlier occasion, Moore had shrugged off a suggestion that if the University were opened to women, Rochesterians would contribute more liberally to its support. "I do not say what might not be done when the institution is in better financial condition," he observed, "but with defeat staring us in the face from year to year, and when from year to year we have to go begging to friends of the University who live at a distance to make up the deficit, you can easily see that we do not feel like at once complying" with the demand to admit women students. Responding to the implicit challenge, Rochester women active in the cause of higher education set about gathering subscriptions, but their vision of getting enough money to secure admission of women in the autumn of 1892 was frustrated. 7

IV

In January of 1892 Gilmore opened his lectures on American literature to women, 300 of whom attended, so that he was obliged to conduct the class in the chapel. At the annual alumni Commencement dinner, Hill expressed himself with uncommon bluntness on the matriculation of young women, calling it "an economical and fruitful measure." "Give us money, gentlemen, and we will take care of your daughters...I haven't commended coeducation 'as she is taught.' I have a plan [that is, a coordinate college for women] which I think solves the problem.... No discrimination will be shown. It is my greatest wish that we unite for the realization of this happy dream." 8

Between 1891 and 1893 several women sat in U. of R. classes as auditors and at least two enrolled in special courses. Then something startling happened. At the opening of college on September 21, 1893, Helen E. Wilkinson, with the tentative approval of the President, entered the freshman class as a regular student in the classics course. This twenty-two year old young woman had spent two years studying in preparation for college work. She was in fact "the instrument" with which Miss Anthony and her allies, who paid her expenses, intended to break down the barriers against women students. Hill told the press that Miss Wilkinson would attend classes "the same as the young gentlemen, only she will not be matriculated." Speaking for himself and the faculty; the President reiterated his commitment to the fundamental principle of collegiate education for women.

Concerning the presence of Miss Wilkinson at the first chapel session of the academic year, a Rochester newspaper had this to say: "The appearance of the 'co-ed'... shortly before chapel was called was the signal for an outburst of enthusiasm given vent in the old varsity yell, reworded to suit the occasion: 'Co-edgie, Co-edgie, Co-edgie, Whoa Up! Parabalou! Rochester!"

Unruffled, the pioneer coed walked through the noisy company of males and took a seat near the front of the chapel. Men clustered round her, yet she ignored them and concentrated on the exercises. Curiously, in his chapel talk, Hill adjured the undergraduates to "live like men and engage in all those exercises which will give you strength and muscle and steadiness of nerves... "

For weeks none of the professors called on Miss Wilkinson to recite, perhaps in order to avoid compromising the position of the University in the event that the coeducation controversy was taken to a court of law. On the whole, the attitude of the undergraduates was distinctly unfriendly; a novel, a menacing peril was discovered and circulated; a star football player might be ruined by idolization of female students--therefore, debar them!

By agreement with the President, Miss Wilkinson was listed in the college catalogue under "Persons Pursuing Special Courses;" she disavowed any intention of completing the work prerequisite for a baccalaureate degree. After attending classes for two years she was forced to withdraw for health reasons, and in 1897, the year she would have graduated, she died. The press remarked glowingly upon her bravery and her modesty. Her portrait adorned the Rochester home of Miss Anthony, subsequently converted into a shrine as the Susan B. Anthony House (13 Madison Street). Actually, Miss Wilkinson represented a turning point in the arduous struggle for coeducation at Rochester that did not turn, for the corporation ordered the faculty not to admit any more women unless and until they received specific instructions from the trustees. A request by Professor Forbes that his own daughter be permitted to study was turned down. The name of the "first coed" does not appear in the official records of the college. 9

Yet, whatever the fate of a wave, the tide kept rolling forward. Professor Truman J. Backus of Vassar College, a U. of R. graduate in 1864, addressed the alumni during the 1894 Commencement period on "Higher Education for Women." After tracing the evolution of education for women and their role in the common life, Backus ventured to "glance at the probabilities." Since girls made up a large majority of American high school pupils, he reasoned that the time was near at hand when young women would outnumber the men attending the colleges. And he delivered a powerful plea for coeducation at Rochester.

Education of women formed the main item on the agenda of the annual trustee meeting in 1894. Upon its conclusion a member of the board disclosed that sentiment leaned to the organization of three divisions in the University: the existing college, a new college of science, and a third college for women, which might be quartered in the presidential mansion. Essentially the same line of thought was vouchsafed by Hill in speaking to the alumni: "Go forth and justify our name," he pleaded, by getting funds to build a group of colleges, which might embrace schools of law and medicine, and so make the institution a university in fact as in title. 10

V

On June 14, 1898, after an unusually prolonged and animated debate, the trustees, voting ten to three, adopted a measure which if implemented would place the U. of R. on a coeducational foundation. It was prescribed, however, that the new era would not dawn until the friends of college training for women had collected $100,000--in the nature of a dowry, though only about half the sum really needed to teach a larger student body. Hearing of the trustee decision, Miss Anthony exclaimed triumphantly, "Glory, Hallelujah! This is better news to me than victory over Spain. It is a peace-victory, achieved only by the death of prejudice and precedents..." 11

Under the chairmanship of Mrs. Helen B. Montgomery, Wellesley alumna, an enthusiastic Committee on the Women's Educational Fund set about soliciting subscriptions. In a public appeal for money, the chairman summed up the principal reasons for contributing. Part of the fund would be applied to strengthening instruction in physics and biology and in developing a more distinguished scientific and technical department. Coeducation would mean "a great deal in the way of opportunity to teachers and those expecting to teach in our public schools." The record already written by the U. of R. amply justified generous investment in its future, and enlarged college opportunities would bring new residents to Rochester and so increase the population of the city.

For the financial solicitation, committees, embracing the several religious faiths, were organized in the various wards of Rochester and conducted a door-to-door canvass; hundreds of small gifts ranging from a quarter to five dollars were made and the proceeds of a dramatic production flowed into the hope chest. Yet, after a year of conscientious, sustained work only $29,000 had been collected, and the fund committee begged the University corporation to admit a minimum of ten women in the fall of 1899 on the understanding that the drive for money would go on until the prescribed $100,000 had been obtained. That request the trustees flatly vetoed.

Either because they thought $100,000 could not be raised or because they really preferred a separate college for women, certain Rochesterians recommended the abandonment of the coeducation project. A popular author in the city, Mrs. Jane Marsh Parker, spoke the mind of this element in verse form.

My dears, they don't want you. Why, why longer tease?
"Good sirs, let
us in!" with the pitiful "please."
Consider in time the long strain on your knees.


They don't mean to have you. Now that's very plain.
It isn't right out they tell you the same;
They credit you, dears, with reading the game.


Better far better get mad as a hatter;
Then, raising a million will be a light matter.
A College for Woman, evolved from this clatter;


A great Woman's College--fair halls of her own.
There! up from your knees. Now go it alone!
When boys ask a crust, don't toss 'em a stone.


In conformity with a fresh directive from the trustees, the college faculty declined to receive women as regular students under any circumstances. On the other hand, ladies might frequent classrooms or laboratories as "visitors" with the consent of a teacher. In giving such approval, the professor would act as an individual, and in no sense as a University official. If women "visited" laboratories, they should pay the established fees for materials they used; but they might not recite nor take class examinations. Their names would not be listed in the college register, and a certificate indicating the study that had been performed would bear only the signature of the teacher involved. More than a dozen "visitors" carried on work at the college in 1899-1900. 12

VI

To the trustee meeting on June 12, 1900, the Montgomery committee reported that about $40,000 were available to set coeducation in motion, and the ladies believed that a maximum of $10,000 more might be obtained. "We have done our best," it was explained. "We regret that it is no better. If the board of trustees can suggest to us any method by which we can secure the entire amount, we will gladly continue the work..." After another lively exchange of views on coeducation and a reassessment of the physical facilities of the college, the trustees resolved, three members dissenting, to admit women in September, 1900, "upon the same terms and conditions as men, provided $50,000 is secured in good subscriptions by that time."

Coming in the midst of the semi-centennial jubilee at the U. of R., the announcement that the "dowry" required had been cut in half elicited restrained joy among friends of higher education for women. "Co-education Assured," declared an editorial writer in the city--prematurely. And he thought, "There is no class of women more free from offensive masculinity of sentiment, deportment, and bearing than the graduates of our higher institutions of learning." By reason of their competition in the classroom, women would surely stimulate male students to greater intellectual exertions--all of which would be good for the men and good for the Rochester community.

Securing additional subscriptions of nearly $10,000 turned out to be an extremely difficult task. Another stirring appeal for support was addressed to Rochesterians through the press. Conventional arguments were rehearsed, and the point was stressed again that families wishing to educate their children would be attracted to the city, as had happened in Syracuse, where "whole streets had been built up" by parents desiring college training for their sons and daughters.

Nevertheless, only $2,000--a fifth of the sum needed--were acquired during the summer of 1900, and prospects for full success were exceedingly dim. But the determined Susan B. Anthony, eighty-one years of age, would not be denied; not defeat, but a keen sense of challenge dominated her spirit. From her sister Mary* she obtained $2,000, friends, including Minister Gannett and his wife, pledged $4,000 more, and another well-wisher guaranteed the remaining $2,000. When the trustees revealed that the "guarantee" was not acceptable, Miss Anthony pledged an insurance policy on her life, valued at $2,000. This dramatic gesture sealed the transaction--$50,000 were in sight for the U. of R. treasury. Additional money came in later, Miss Anthony's insurance policy was returned to her, and a sum in excess of $51,000 was handed over to the trustees.

In token of appreciation for her untiring and resourceful labors, young women of Rochester joyfully serenaded Miss Anthony in her home. Upon the formal opening of the college, women matriculants assured her, "...We feel a special debt of gratitude to you, since it was your generous aid at the last that made the [financial] effort successful." At the funeral of Miss Anthony in 1906, undergraduates formed part of the guard of honor and served as honorary pallbearers, gowned in black and wearing mortar boards. It was peculiarly appropriate that when a set of special buildings for women's education at the U. of R. was erected, one of them--the Gymnasium--should bear the name of Miss Anthony, saluted as the person who more than any other changed the American mind about the place of women in society. 13

 

VII

When the academic term began in September 1900, thirty-three young women registered. Six of them transferred from other institutions, fifteen (as compared with fifty-six men) enrolled in the first year class, and twelve as special students. Following a year of experience with co-education President Rhees described the ladies as "good students and sensible women." The distinction of being the first woman to obtain a degree--Ph.B.--at the U. of R. belongs to Ella S. Wilcoxen, 1901, who had attended Geneseo State Normal School; after graduation she became a high school teacher and a religious worker.

A dismal room on the southwest corner of the first floor of Anderson Hall, equipped with a few chairs and nondescript pictures, was allocated to the ladies as a place of study and rendezvous--there they ate their lunch and held meetings. It was a "dear spot where happy memories cling," one student recalled. Presently a section of the first floor corridor in Anderson was converted into a woman's cloakroom and a kitchen was provided. A Students Association for women was founded with Miss Wilcoxen as president.

Women students found attendance at compulsory chapel "a torturing ordeal," for they were segregated on benches along one side of the room. "Our position demanded modesty and unobtrusiveness," it was said. On the other hand, an anonymous coed disclosed to a newspaperman that the initial year of college life had proved pleasanter than she had anticipated and she ridiculed press stories of "barbarous" masculine behavior. "I have given a recitation, which I flattered myself was pretty good, and had the boys stamp their feet... in a way embarrassing, " she told the interviewer.

For the most part, the "superior sex" hotly resented the presence of the ladies. The Interpres of 1901 contained a piece of doggerel called "The Questioner: "

What's that thing yonder, Uncle Bill,* looks like a Christmas tree?
Why, that's a Co-Ed, silly child, a Co-Ed...can't you see?...
What's that thing squealin', Uncle Bill, a squealin' high and thin?
A Co-Ed, little questioner, a singin' of a hymn.
Who are these Co-Eds, Uncle Bill, who're making such a fuss?
They're studyiverous bipeds, boy, of genus hair-pinicus,


Into the mouth of an artisan of German antecedents was put a quaint explanation of the construction of a new fire escape on Anderson Hall: "It's der vimmens...ven der vimmens gomes in, den der drouble begins. Vy don't dey shtay ter home and do der gookin?..."

To the charge that male hostility arose because the men had to behave themselves with women around, a Campus editor tartly replied that the manners and habits of the men had not altered one whit. "They were gentlemen before and they are gentlemen still.... Many are bearing the presence of coeds 'as a necessary evil.' "

Time, the great healer, would eventually temper masculine susceptibilities; though many years elapsed before that came fully to pass. When the First World War impended, education for women at the U. of R. had reached the stage outlined in the initial paragraphs of this chapter. 14




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* $2,000 was pledged by Mary S. Anthony, $2,000 was pledged by the Gannetts, $2,000 was pledged by Sarah L. Willis and Susan B. Anthony pledged her life insurance policy for $2,000. See: Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, by Ida Husted Harper, Vol. III, p. 1223-1224.

*Professor William C. Morey.

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Footnotes to Chapter 13

  1. Croceus, V (1914), 14.
  2. Rose C. Engelman, 1939, "The History of Ingham University, 1837-1942." Unpublished master's thesis, U. of R., 1943. A careful study. Bishop, op. cit., pp. 144-151, 247, 335. Galpin, op. cit., I, 191-192; II, 326, fn. 5.
  3. Records of the Barleywood Female University. Rhees Library Archives. John R. Slater, "The Future of Women in the University," RAR, XV (1954), no. 2, 24-25.
  4. University Annual, III (1873), 14-15. University Record, March, 1874, 43. M. B. Anderson to his wife, December 19, 1874. Anderson Papers, Box VI. Rosenberger, Rochester, p. 240. Executive Committee Minutes, II, June 17, 1878.
  5. Campus, V, November, 1877, June, 1878, February, 1879. Ibid., XI, January 31, 1885.
  6. Parkman, op. cit., pp. 106-109. Rochester Post Express, January 27, 1890. R U&A, May 26, June 13, 30, 1890. Rochester History, XVII (1955), no. 4, 16-20.
  7. Trustee Records, II, 242. Campus, XVII, May 28, June 9, 1891. Ibid., XVIII, Oct. 27, 1891. Ibid., XXI, Feb. 1, 8, 1895. Ibid., XXIV, May 10, 1899. Elizabeth C. Stanton, Eighty Years and More (New York, 1898), p. 434. Theodore Stanton and Harriot S. Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton (2 vols., New York, 1922), II, 280. Rosenberger, Rochester, p. 240.
  8. Campus, XVIII, June 18, 1892. Rosenberger, Rochester, pp. 241-242.
  9. Campus, XX, Oct. 12, Nov. 11, 1893, March 22, 1894. Rochester Post Express, Sept. 21 (?) 1893. R T-U, Sept. 16, 1953. Patricia English Fisler, 1948, "Women at the University before 1900 , " Genesee Scrapbook, I (1950), 19-20. Rhees Library Archive Faculty Minutes, Dec. 13, 1893. Trustee Records, II, 350 (June 19, 1894). D.J. Hill to C. M. Williams, Dec. 5, 1895. Rhees Library Archives.
  10. R U&A, June 20, 1894. Oren Sage Scrapbook, June, 1894, undated press clippings.
  11. Pattison Scrapbook, June, 1898, undated press clippings. Trustee Records, III, June 14, 1898. Harper's Weekly, July 2, 1898, 639.
  12. Executive Committee Minutes, IV, November 25, 1899.
  13. Pattison Scrapbook, 1898 (?), undated press clippings. Trustee Records, III, June 20, 1899, June 12, 1900. Executive Committee Minutes, IV, Nov. 15, 1899, June 23, 1900. Ibid., V (no date), 266. R D& C, June 14, 23, 1900. President's Report (Report of Acting President Burton), May 25, 1900. Ida 1-1. Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (3 vols., Indianapolis, 1899-1908), III, 1222-1227, 1428-1432. Katharine Anthony, Susan B. Anthony (New York, 1954), pp. 458-459, 501.
  14. Mae Lawler Cole, 1904, "Memories of the First Graduating Class," Croceus, IV (1925), 1-2. R D&C, May 6, 1901. Interpres, XLIII (1901), 139. Campus, XXVI, January 28, March 15, 1901. Julia F. Seligman, 1903, "University's Pioneer Women Students Found Educational Path No Easy One," RAR, XXIII (1945), no. 3, 8-9. Dorothy Dennis, 1908, "Notes on Early Days of Women in the U. of R." Manuscript in Rhees Library Archives.