“Oust the coeds”: A History of Women’s Integration in Drew University

A timeline of women’s integration at Drew.

What does the journey of women’s integration at a college founded, designed, and named for men (Brothers College) look like? One of our goals with the Acorn Archives is to better understand where Drew and Drew voices fit within a cultural context. With access to the digital issues, there are many stories that we can showcase: the history of WWII through Drew’s eyes, the Civil Rights movement, and the best concerts at Drew, for example. For our first project, we decided to focus on the history of women’s integration in the college of liberal arts.

The Women’s Concerns Theme House (WoCo) was created in the 1990’s and it is still strong today.

Drew was first established as a Methodist Seminary in 1867 and would remain as such until the College of Missions was introduced. In 1928, the brothers Arthur and Leonard Baldwin offered to pay for an undergraduate college of liberal arts and thus Brothers College was born. Women were first accepted as students into the forest to the Drew Theological Seminary when in 1915 the institution voted to admit women “on the same condition as accorded to men.” In 1918, Ruth Havighurst became the first female student in the Seminary.

The journey of coeducation is tangled up in the story of World War II. With lowering male enrollment, the college needed an alternative solution or else it would have most likely closed. And even though women were accepted to the College, it was only “for the duration” of the crisis. In 1946, the trustee committee reconvened to decide whether or not Drew should continue to accept female students. It would not be until January 29, 1947 that the trustees finally decided to go fully coed.

To compare with Drew’s decision to go coeducational, we were behind schools like NYU and Penn State who were admitting women in the later half of the 1800s while Ivy Leagues didn’t go fully coed until 1969 (with Columbia still not fully integrated till 1983.)

Every title slide on this timeline is the name of an article in the Acorn. The date listed is the date of the paper that one could find each article in with the page number in parentheses providing further direction. The quotes taken can be found in these articles. While this timeline seeks to provide insight on women’s history at Drew, it does not take authority in that all events in relation to the process will be found. We had to select which stories were worth telling considering importance, relevance, intimacy, and shock factor. Our research mainly focused on the lead up to when women were admitted (1942) till about 1979 with few events in the eighties, nineties, and 2010s. More events from this era will most likely be plotted on a second timeline that is more equipped to showcase the contemporary women’s experience at Drew University.

From the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, AIDS Crisis, and the history of various other departments at the college, the future of timelines showcasing Drew’s rich history is ready to be realized. So, what timeline should we create next, Drew?

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