Vassar College Is Founded (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The first college for women to offer a full liberal arts curriculum.
Summary of Event
When Vassar College opened its doors, a new era began in the higher education of women in the United States. Although many schools for women existed in 1865 and some called themselves colleges, none offered a full college course. Few women’s schools offered more than a high school education, and the best existing institution, Mt. Holyoke Seminary, was approximately at the level of a junior college. Oberlin College, Antioch College, and some Western state universities permitted women to take courses, but few women succeeded in meeting the requirements of a bachelor of arts degree. Vassar was unique in offering women an education as rigorous and complete as that offered in the best men’s colleges. Its success set a new standard for women’s education that other institutions would endeavor to match.
Matthew Vassar, self-made, self-educated, and proud of what he had achieved without formal education, was an unlikely person to found a college for women. Born April 29, 1792, in England, he had come to the United States in 1796 with his parents, who settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, where they operated a brewery. In 1811, Matthew opened his own brewery; thrift and shrewd investments multiplied his wealth. He married in 1813 but had no children. During a trip to Europe in 1845, he was impressed by Thomas...
(The entire section is 1528 words.)
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