Ninety Years of Coeducation

My alma mater, The College of William and Mary (or, as we used to call it in the heyday of the women’s movement, The College of Mary and Whatshisname), is celebrating 90 years of women students:

Due to World War I, enrollment at the College in the early 20th century had dropped drastically. This decline led the College to its decision to admit women students, said Carolyn Whittenburg, the director of the National Institute of American History and Democracy who received her doctorate in education from William & Mary.

The College enrolled its first 24 women in 1918. By the 1919-1920 school year, the College had increased its enrollment to 333 students, 100 of whom were women. In 1925-1926, when the enrollment grew to more than 1,000, there were more than 450 women students at William & Mary.

“I always say that women actually saved William & Mary,” said Whittenburg. “In 1931-1932 the student enrollment totaled 1,682 students which included just over 800 women. The following year, 1932-1933, women students outnumbered the men students for the first time in the history of William and Mary. Coeducation made a tremendous impact here at the College.”

More about the history of women at the College and current projects to recognize that history at William & Mary Celebrates 90 Years of Coeducation.


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