Light on the hill: A history of Tufts College, 1852-1952

Miller, Russell


In 1892, when Tufts had begun its coeducational experiment, it had been necessary to consider certain pressing problems: How


many women would enroll? How would they be housed? Could the project be adequately financed? And how would the Tufts community react? Two of these questions were much more easily answered in 1910 than in 1892, and the answers seemed to express affirmation rather than negation. There was, in the first place, a ready-made student body for Jackson. Beginning June 16, 1910, all women students in liberal arts were automatically registered in Jackson College. As a consequence, there were fifty-four women inherited from the days of coeducation, plus six transfers from other institutions and two special students. In addition, twenty-three women entered the first freshman class in Jackson, making a total of eighty-five. This was "most gratifying" in view of the last-minute announcement of the change of policy, and of the widespread fear that the change would be to the detriment of women. The enrollment in Jackson thereafter increased in a most satisfactory way. By the time the dean of Jackson made her second annual report she was already hinting that additional dormitory space would soon be necessary.

As to the reaction to the new regime, there seemed to be general agreement on all sides that segregation was a good thing. According to President Hamilton, when the policy was being considered in 909 and 1910, "the Alumni, almost unanimously, heartily endorsed it." The faculty could do little more than approve it in view of the opinions they had already expressed to the Trustees. The male student body, showing no marked enthusiasm for coeducation from the beginning and maintaining a rather equivocal attitude, finally made their feelings clear. They fully approved. Surprisingly little time, space, or attention was devoted to the subject of coeducation by the students in their undergraduate publications between 1892 and 1910. A large proportion of the early coeds chose English as their major field and appeared unobtrusively but effectively on the staff of the Tuftonian, the campus literary magazine. The Tufts Weekly continued to be dominated by male leadership, and much more attention was devoted to sports events, class rivalries, and fraternities than to the doings of the women. As one undergraduate (male) in the Tuftonian casually expressed it, there were three classes of reactions to the women: "co-ed haters, co-ed tolerators, and co-ed lovers. The co-ed tolerators were by far in the majority."

When segregation was announced in the spring of 1910, Tufts men were galvanized into action. The Tufts Weekly on April 21 reported that "great hilarity and celebration" were the order of the day when the news arrived on the campus. A huge bonfire was quickly arranged, and the students marched around the Hill to the accompaniment of the band. At chapel the next morning the juniors who were about to be segregated filed out from the service and were confronted with a double line of men extending from Goddard Chapel to Ballou Hall. The embarrassed young ladies marched to the accompaniment of loud cheering on the part of the masculine contingent. The undergraduate newspaper even devoted an editorial to the subject of segregation and commended the Trustees for their action. The experiment in coeducation had been a failure. The men were being "crowded out of the department of liberal arts" and had come to feel that the very traditions of the College were being lost, while the freedom of the entire institution was being "pushed into the background."

While all this was taking place, the Trustees and administration were engaged in solving the chronic problems of finance and housing. At the same meeting at which segregation had been voted, the president and secretary of the Corporation were constituted a committee to notify the alumni of the Trustees' decision and to make a plea for financial support. It was calculated that if each alumnus would make an annual pledge of $5.00 for a five-year period, at least $5,000 a year could be raised from that source alone. If coeducation had contributed to the slow growth of liberal arts enrollment, then segregation should bring about increased enrollment of both men and women. It was estimated that increased revenue from tuition might bring in as much as $2,500 a year, and possibly $10,000 annually by the fifth year. If this expectation seems overly conservative to later generations, it should be remembered that the tuition was $125 a year in 1910. The income from unrestricted funds (as of 1909) was $5,600. For the past several years, gratuities and scholarships paid out to both men and women had averaged over 25 per cent for each, and these funds were sorely in need of replenishing. In his annual report for 1910-11, President Hamilton called for "special endowments" for Jackson, with first priority to scholarships. If existing funds were assigned fairly


among the divisions of the College, Jackson would receive but fourteen. Fortunately, there were already several scholarship and loan funds intended exclusively for women, or which could be used for either men or women. For example, in addition to those cited earlier, the loan fund of the Women's Universalist Missionary Society of Massachusetts, which had been launched by a $5.00 donation in Roxbury in 1893, amounted in 1910 to some $6,000. Loans from this fund in units of $100 at 4 per cent were available to deserving women. A Jackson Building Fund of $18,500 had also been accumulated, and the Jackson Professorship Fund of $40,000 was paying an income of $1,300.

But the most pressing financial needs of all centered about the provision for separate classrooms, laboratories, and administrative headquarters, and the employment of a dean for the new college and an augmented faculty. The only immediate solution was to tighten the College belt, use existing facilities where possible, and hold all expenses to an absolute minimum. Constructing a new building for the specific use of Jackson was out of the question, for the Building Fund established for that purpose was completely inadequate, and Mrs. Jackson's estate was still in such turmoil that nothing could be counted on from that source. So the decision was made to renovate Middle Hall for the use of the theological school and to make Miner Hall the headquarters for Jackson. Middle Hall was vacant in 1910, for its use as the College library had come to an end after Andrew Carnegie had donated sufficient money to Tufts to build Eaton Library, opened in 1908. Middle Hall, although in need of extensive repairs, was easily adaptable for theological school purposes, and it was planned that the exchange of buildings would be only temporary. To that end, a mutual five-year lease arrangement was provided between the theological school for the use of Middle Hall and Jackson for the use of Miner Hall. Middle Hall underwent its scheduled renovation and was christened Packard Hall when the theological school took it over in 1910. All other facilities "necessary to the separate conduct of a College for Women," it was thought, could be arranged at minimal expense.

Miner Hall, which was to serve as the "temporary nucleus" of the Jackson administration while its own buildings were being financed and erected, required only minor alterations. It was


renovated, and a locker room was provided in the basement. The building housed not only the dean's office but also a branch of the bursar's office, part of the College bookstore, and a chapel, which was immediately found to be too small. There were also seven classrooms and a combination reception and study room for the special benefit of students who did not reside on the campus. During registration periods, representatives of each department migrated to Miner Hall to provide necessary services. In short, Miner Hall was destined to be a beehive of academic activity.

Dormitory facilities were another matter that needed immediate attention. Metcalf Hall and Start House still constituted the only college-operated housing for women, and they had long since been outgrown. The situation was not improved by a change of policy regarding residence on campus. When Jackson was established, it was decided that no regular student could be enrolled unless she resided either in a dormitory or with her family. Private homes in the vicinity of the campus were out of bounds, at least temporarily. Housing, in fact, had become so critical that two


women were living in Ballou Hall in 1910. It was hoped that additional dormitory space could eventually be provided in buildings already owned by the College, such as converted faculty houses. As it turned out, one of the oldest houses on the campus became the third women's dormitory. This structure, located at 28 Professors Row, had been built in 1857 as a boarding house for men while East Hall was being constructed. It stood on the site of West Hall and was moved in 1870, at which time it was serving as a two-family faculty residence. After extensive remodeling and enlargement by an addition on the east side, it was ready to house eighteen Jacksonites and a matron in October 1910 with the new name of Richardson House. The benefactor after whom the reconstructed building was named was Mrs. Mary A. Richardson, a long-time friend of the College and donor of library books, a scholarship fund, and money for a professorship.

Staffing the new college also required extra expenditure. At the meeting which created Jackson College, the Trustees authorized President Hamilton to nominate candidates for the faculty and administration, including a dean. By using the existing faculty to the maximum, it was anticipated that total extra expense for the new personnel would not exceed $10,000 annually. The Trustees voted to put a ceiling of $12,000 a year on additional expenses for Jackson for the next three years. Fifteen new faculty members were provided. Mrs. Caroline S. Davies was selected as the first dean of Jackson College and served fifteen years until her resignation because of ill health. She was a native of Massachusetts and a person of exceptional scholarly achievement and leadership ability. She was graduated from Wellesley College in 1887 and later attended Newnham College, Cambridge University, where she continued her studies in English literature and in Greek. She served several years as an instructor at Harcourt Place Academy, Gambier, Ohio. Her husband, Rev. Owen John Davies, was for a time the chaplain of Kenyon College. From 1904 through 1909 Mrs. Davies taught in various girls' schools in the Chicago area and served one year as headmistress of St. Peter's School, Bayswater, London. She was an active advocate of women's suffrage, was a member of numerous professional and scholarly organizations, and was included in Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-1915. At the time of her


appointment to Jackson College she was living in Boston, but she moved in 1911 to 72 Professors Row, which was then designated as the residence of the dean of Jackson College. Mrs. Davies came to Tufts as both an administrator and a teacher. She carried the title of Professor of Greek and also taught the Jackson freshmen their basic English course when she first arrived. She was both the first woman to hold an administrative post at Tufts and the first woman to teach at the institution. She was also the first and only faculty member to teach courses exclusively for women. Mrs. Davies filled a difficult assignment "quietly, efficiently, and with most remarkable tact, firmness, and patience."

There was still some doubt and a certain amount of confusion about how the new arrangement was intended to operate, and a multitude of administrative decisions still had to be made in 1910. Almost as soon as the Trustees' decision had been announced, President Hamilton was confronted with the sixty questions previously mentioned. In the fall of 1910 he undertook to explain (and to justify) Jackson and to answer some of the recurrent questions. First of all, he assured both men and women that with the separate college there was "no longer any need to sacrifice the interests of either sex to those of the other, or to make any compromise between methods which seem necessarily diverse." The women would be equally entitled with the men to the courses offered by the senior members of the faculty, and he foresaw no possibility that any faculty member, new or old, would refuse to teach women. Except for the courses taught by the dean of Jackson (English and Greek), which were open only to women, all courses on the Hill were to be open irrespective of sex. The requirements for admission, the curricula, and the degree requirements for men and women were identical. Special students who were not degree candidates were to be allowed to enroll, provided they chose a major department. With the exception of the basic course in chemistry, where insufficient laboratory facilities existed, all underclass students were to be segregated in their courses. All courses in which the minimum total enrollment was four would be offered. If upperclass course enrollment was so small as to result in wasteful duplication of facilities, such courses could be taught jointly at the discretion of the instructor, but they would be segregated as soon as the enrollment increased.

Ultimately, President Hamilton told the students, Jackson would have its own buildings, separated from the main group but still sufficiently close to use the library and Goddard Chapel jointly with the men. Until 1909 Goddard Gymnasium was used by both men and women, but on different days. By good fortune, the College had acquired in 1908 a small clubhouse south of the main campus built by the Somerville Golf Club on land leased from the College. This building was enlarged and remodeled and became a women's gymnasium which doubled also as a home for the expanding activities of dramatics. After Jackson Gymnasium for Women was constructed in 1948, the old clubhouse ceased to serve its original dual purpose. It became the home of the Tufts Arena Theatre after extensive and recurrent remodeling.

The creation of Jackson College required no major readjustments in women's physical education, for physical training had become part of the prescribed work for all students in the 1890's, and in 1895-96 a graduate of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics taught the girls. An advisory committee on outdoor athletics for women had been created in 1901, and in 1906 an athletic commission for women had been organized as a counterpart to the association long in existence for men.

The president was confident that all would work out well under the new system. Increased enrollment of men in liberal arts in the fall of 1910 (a modest increase of five over the previous year) was already evidence to him that "a man's Tufts is more attractive to students than a co-educational Tufts." Likewise, an increased registration of women indicated "a rapidly growing Jackson." If each undergraduate would try to bring one freshman to his college, there would be one hundred liberal arts freshmen in 1911. He felt sure that social relations between the students of the two colleges would adjust themselves naturally and would be more harmonious than ever. In brief, there was "every reason to believe that segregation means greater days for Tufts and Jackson than Tufts has ever known."

There was some discussion about the curriculum for the Jackson students, although in actuality very little concession was made to the presence of women in spite of President Hamilton's pronouncements. He had argued before Jackson was established that it was "not necessary in order to demonstrate the mental equality of


women that they should practice medicine or law, or that they should enter the pulpit, or even that they should take exactly the same curriculum in the college as their brothers." Of the seventy-nine academic courses open to women when Jackson was established, only twenty-four were actually segregated. It was not until the crisis of the First World War was upon the nation that a course was introduced exclusively for Jackson students. War emergency courses in shorthand and typing were offered in 1917, as additional electives. Originally offered by a staff member of the Chandler School for Women, they were intended to meet "the ever increasing demand for secretaries of college training and intellectual grasp beyond the power of ordinary stenographers." This meant training not for business office careers but for "intelligent, broadly informed, and efficient secretaries to professional men."

President Hamilton's plans for segregation and the independence of Jackson College were intended to apply even to Commencement arrangements. According to the original blueprint, graduation ceremonies were to be jointly conducted for only three years after 1910. When Jackson graduated an independent class in 1914, the students were to have their own Commencement. However, when 1914 arrived, and seventeen young ladies received the first Bachelor's degrees given by Jackson to a group completing the four-year course, they took their places at the regular exercises. Following precedents set earlier, Jackson, as a division of the College, was represented on the panel of Commencement speakers. Literal segregation was also attempted at first in the designation of degrees but was soon abandoned. The idea of giving separate degrees for women actually went back to the introduction of coeducation in 1892. A young lady graduating between 1896 and 1900 received a Tufts degree but was listed on the records as a "W.A." (Woman of Arts). For the three years from 1911 through 1913 the women were given a choice of Tufts or Jackson degrees. Most elected Tufts. From 1914 to 1916, all women received Jackson degrees. From 1917 until April 1963 they received exclusively Tufts degrees; since the latter date, a compromise has resulted in the identification on the diploma of the separate schools and colleges, but under the Tufts designation.

The experiment in segregation at Tufts, which had not been complete even in 1910, was soon abandoned as an official policy. It


was too much of a financial strain for the College to bear, in spite of the glowing future which President Hamilton had foreseen for it. When he resigned the presidency of Tufts in 1912 and returned to the business world with which he had alternated a career as a clergyman, he was sure that Jackson as he envisioned it would be a success. Students and instructors alike, it seemed, had settled into the "new ways speedily and with little friction. Scholarship nowhere suffered. . . . The social relations between the men and women underwent an immediate and marked change for the better." With Dr. Hamilton's departure, the talk of segregation withered away, and by the time the catalogue for 1912-13 was published, all mention of separate classes for women had disappeared from it. But the attempt at segregation left its inheritance: Jackson College, as a corporate entity and a flourishing coordinate institution. The administrative structure of Jackson and the system of joint faculties, as well as other arrangements familiar to a later day, remained virtually unchanged. In a sense, history vindicated the statement in the first catalogue of Jackson College, which stated that the institution offered its students "a combination of the advantages of a women's college and a co-educaional college with comparative freedom from the peculiar disadvantages of each system."

  • Light on the Hill, the history of Tufts College, was published to coincide with the centennial of the institution in 1952. A second volume was published in 1986. This edition was created from the 1966 edition of Light on the Hill, Volume I.
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