The First Students


Monday, October 2, 2017


10:00 am


College Center Palmer Gallery

The First Students

On September 23, 1865, along with four women from Canada and one from Hawaii, 348 women between the ages of 15 and 27 from across the United States became the first students at Vassar College, hailed by the editor of the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book, as “the first of the kind ever established in the wide world.” Barely one-third of the accepted students were eligible for collegiate standing, and only toward the end of the second year were these students assigned class years. Forty-five freshmen, 40 sophomores or almost sophomores, 27 juniors or almost juniors, and 4 graduating seniors were the 116 students in the “collegiate” rank. “But,” President John Raymond later observed, “it was not until the close of its third year that the institution fully attained a collegiate character.”

“The First Students” studies the 18 students among the original 353 who were graduates in that first “collegiate” year, providing where possible information about their backgrounds, their families, their preparation, their college activities and their lives after graduation. The project includes pictures of these students, facts and anecdotes about them, graphic material echoing questions and responses raised by Matthew Vassar’s bold experiment, along with the stories of these educational pioneers and their experiences.

Heather Kettlewell ’18
Geneva Toland ’15
D. B. Brown
Colton Johnson, Vassar College Historian

Jasmine Mitchell

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