By Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
Alma Mater: layout and adventure within the Women's schools from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the Thirties ASIN: 0870238698
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Extra resources for Alma mater: design and experience in the women's colleges from their nineteenth-century beginnings to the 1930s
As a historian I wrote about the past. Many of these readers took up Alma Mater to learn about the present. As I began to travel and speak about the book to alumnae groups and to students and teachers interested in higher education, those in my audience asked questions that at first threw me: Should women's colleges exist? What is or ought to be the role that women's colleges play in today's world? Should my daughter go to Mount Holyoke? Should I? I was stumped, but from the outset I knew that these questions were thoroughly appropriate.
Working to open the resources of Harvard College to young women, the creators of the Annex conceived of a plan to gather women in Cambridge where Harvard professors could offer them instruction. Boston's Unitarian world perceived colleges other than Harvard as hopelessly provincial. Radcliffe's promoters wanted nothing that suggested the women's colleges, with their evangelistic overtones. In addition, because of Harvard's reluctance to recognize its annex in any official way, the women's institution sought to appear as inconspicuous as possible.
Yet more than education is at stake. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women gathered in separate organizations that gave them a power base for social, economic, and political action. Women's clubs, women's professional organizations, reform groups, settlement houses, and women's colleges coexisted. These were not inward-looking bodies designed to satisfy individual women's private needs. These were groups that looked out to the society of women and men. To some degree they created and sustained a Page xix dynamic agenda that linked women's enfranchisement to social justice and peace.
Alma mater: design and experience in the women's colleges from their nineteenth-century beginnings to the 1930s by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz