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Collection Overview

Princeton University. Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton.
Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1955-1969 (mostly 1967-1969)
7 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-7


The Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton Records contain the working papers and correspondence of Gardner Patterson, Committee Chair, and his assistants. In June 1967 the Board of Trustees charged the Committee with the study of "the advisability and feasibility" of enlarging the University's role in the education of women. The final report, "The Education of Women at Princeton," was submitted to the Trustees in July 1968. Adopting the recommendation of the Committee, they voted in favor of coeducation the following January and appointed an Ad-Hoc Committee to advise on how to implement their decision. The collection contains some papers Patterson received as a member of this Ad-Hoc Committee, and drafts of its final report, "The Education of Undergraduate Women at Princeton: An Examination of Coordinate Versus Coeducational Patterns."

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton Records contain correspondence, subject files, drafts, notes, and research materials that were generated and accumulated during the time Gardner Patterson was Chair of the Committee and a member of the subsequently appointed Ad-Hoc Committee. The records also contain one copy of the final report, "The Education of Women at Princeton," which was produced by the committee.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University. Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton.

In the changing social climate of the 1960s, a time when society's political and social status quo was being questioned by a younger and well-educated generation, universities faced many challenges. Equal opportunities for women in the workplace and in academia was one of the issues at stake. Age-old barriers that had kept women from participating in some of America's premier institutions of higher learning were being reexamined. By the beginning of 1969 Columbia, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton were the only remaining members of the Ivy League whose doors had not been officially opened to women.

In its competition with other universities, Princeton's "old boy" image was becoming an increasing obstacle to attracting good students. By the mid-1960s a dwindling number of students applying to Princeton turned out to be first-class both academically and extracurricularly. And of those accepted by the University the best decided to go somewhere else. In December 1966 Yale University and the all-female Vassar College announced their intention to study the possibility of a merger. This constituted a serious threat for Princeton. In March 1966 a subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Life had already recommended coeducation as one of the remedies for what the committee termed the University's "unhealthful social climate." Women were not entirely unknown to Princeton. At the end of the previous century Princeton was associated, although not legally connected, with the short-lived Evelyn College (1887-1897). As graduate students, women had been attending Princeton since 1961. In 1963 the Critical Languages Program was introduced to the University, which enabled up to 30 male and female undergraduates from other colleges to spend one year in Princeton. Following Yale's lead, an affiliation with the all-female Sarah Lawrence College was informally explored, but on June 2, 1967 President Robert F. Goheen (1957-1972) announced that the two institutions had "agreed that the unique identity and role of Sarah Lawrence would not be aided by their following the Vassar route." Only twelve days later he announced that the Board of Trustees had authorized a study of the "advisability and feasibility of enlarging the University's role in the education of women."

Prior to the decision of the Trustees, Goheen had expressed his views in an interview with The Daily Princetonian about the inevitability of moving towards coeducation. On May 26, 1967 he wrote a letter about the subject to Gardner Patterson, professor of economics and international affairs and a former director of the Woodrow Wilson School. He included the Princetonian article and noted that it "embarrassed" him somewhat, as it appeared before the Trustees could debate the question. However, Goheen thought he could "secure" an official authorization to make a serious, systematic study of the options. He hoped that Patterson would be willing to conduct a study of "the educational and financial implications of the various possible ways Princeton might try to move into coeducation." Patterson, who was in Geneva at the time, replied that he agreed with Goheen's views, would be happy to conduct the research, and his "heart would be in it, too." When, just as Goheen had hoped, the Trustees authorized the study in June, Patterson was appointed Committee chair. Other members of the Committee included Edward Sullivan, Dean of the College, John Moran '51, general manager of planning, plant and properties, Arthur Horton '42, director of development, and faculty members Thomas Carver, Michael Danielson, E.D.H. Johnson '34, and Thomas Scanlon '63. David Kershaw, director of graduate admissions at the Woodrow Wilson School served as staff assistant, while Patterson asked George Berry, special assistant to Goheen, to personally assist the committee. Provost William Bowen and William Lippincott '41, Executive Director of the Alumni Council, were added at a later stage to the Committee.

The Committee's final report, submitted to the Trustees in July 1968, and in Princeton circles known as the "Patterson Report," was made public in September when it appeared as a special edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Backed by 34 statistical tables, the report concluded that coeducation would benefit Princeton socially, intellectually, and culturally. The Committee recommended increasing the present number of undergraduates with an additional 1,000 female students "as quickly as funds can be raised to accomplish it." The advantages of coeducation were deemed lost if the ratio of men to women was more than three to one. The report included a minority statement by Arthur Horton '42, who disagreed with the conclusions reached. Throughout the year he had voiced the concerns of many conservative alumni who did not support the admission of women to their Alma Mater. Horton's chief fear was the negative implications for traditional fund raising among alumni, a worry shared by many within the University.

In January 1969 the Trustees voted 24-8 in favor of the Patterson recommendations. Following this significant affirmation, an Ad-Hoc Committee of Faculty-Administrators and Students, headed by President Goheen, was appointed by the Trustees to consider how Princeton could best implement the decision to educate undergraduate women. Their report, which examined coordinate versus coeducational patterns using five models, recommended full academic and social integration and a fixed ratio of men and women. In April the Trustees voted to admit 90 female freshmen and 40 transfers in September and to increase numbers gradually over the years to at least 1,000 women. When the time of admission came the numbers had already increased. During the first weekend after Labor Day in 1969, 171 women arrived in Princeton as candidates for bachelor's degrees, among them 101 out of 921 members of the freshman Class of 1973. In his concluding remarks at the 1973 Commencement President Bowen declared, "The women among us have now added their gifts of fallibility to our own, and I think we are a far better university - and a far richer community of people - for them."

Collection History

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Helene van Rossum in 2002. Finding aid written by Helene van Rossum in 2002.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-7

Find More

Related Materials

Arthur Horton Collection on Coeducation, 1968-1980 (AC#039)

Communications Office Records, 1922-1995 [bulk 1955-1980] (AC#168) (See: Coeducation at Princeton files)

Historical Subject Files, circa 1900-present (AC #109) (See: Coeducation boxes)

Subject Terms:
Coeducation -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Sex discrimination in education.
Women -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- Education.
Women college students -- Education.
Genre Terms:
Princeton University
Patterson, Gardner