December 5, 2011 - Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz

Boston, Massachusetts, is a lovely city, and the nearby town of Cambridge is the home of one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., Harvard. Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (born Elizabeth Cary on this date in 1822) lived in Boston, and when her sister married a Harvard professor, Elizabeth began to hang out with a group of professors and other intellectuals in Cambridge. That's where she met her husband, a Swiss scientist named Louis Agassiz.

Elizabeth Agassiz worked with her husband at his scientific research and accompanied him on his expeditions. She also started a school for girls, and her husband and other Harvard professors taught classes there. After her husband died, Agassiz published several books on natural history and, in 1894, helped start Radcliffe College for girls and women. She was the college's first president.

Helen Keller was one of
Radcliffe's most famous
In the first half of the 19th century, women were not allowed to attend colleges or universities, although there were a few all-female academies. After the Civil War, some colleges began to be coed—which means men and women together on the same college campus. Some women thought that “separate but equal colleges” were never really equal. For many years, most universities remained all-male, and starting a nearby “sister” college was the best option to help women get a university education. Radcliffe, the “sister” college to Harvard, was one of the “Seven Sisters colleges.”

These days, most colleges are coed, but there are still about 60 women's colleges and three non-religious men's colleges. (There are many religious schools that are all-male.) Radcliffe became a part of Harvard University, starting in 1977, with full integration achieved by 1999.

What do you think? What are the advantages and disadvantages to having single-sex colleges, as opposed to coed colleges? Can separate but equal work?

Also on this Date:

No comments:

Post a Comment