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Images of Coeducation: 25 Years

 

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An Exhibition of 20 Photographs from the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
and Office of Public Affairs.

Exhibited in the McCaffrey Room, Keefe Campus Center, September 12-20, 2001,

and now on permanent exhibition in Valentine Dining Hall.

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This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of:

The Student Government Organization
The Amherst College Library
The 25th Anniversary of Coeducation Planning Committee
Office of Advancement
The Affirmative Action Office
The Keefe Campus Center
Su Auerbach
Paul Gulla
Bekki Lee
Frank Ward
Doug Wilson



Celebrating Coeducation for 25 Years

1981 May 11

Women at Amherst: A Fifth-Year Perspective – multimedia presentation, the culmination of a year-long effort by 8 Amherst women
1988 Spring A Question of Place – video documenting the experiences of women at Amherst after 10 years of coeducation
1991 April 17 Womenspeak – panel with some of the first college alumnae talking about the changes in the College after 15 years of coeducation. Moderated by Helen von Schmidt '78
1996 - 1997 Articles in Amherst magazine, fall 1996 through summer 1997. The magazine states: "This year marks the 20th anniversary of the graduation of the first women students from Amherst College. In honor of that milestone on the College's history, the quarterly will feature four articles having to do, in various ways, with women at Amherst." The articles are: (1) "Portrait of the Artist as Helpmeet," by Polly Longsworth (about Orra White Hitchcock), fall 1996; (2) "175 (plus) Years of Women at Amherst," by Terry Allen, winter 1997; (3) "A Place for Us," by Tara Kole '98, spring 1997; and (4) "Alumnae on the Governing Board," by Terry Allen, summer 1997
1997 The Fairest College? Twenty Years of Women at Amherst, by Auban Haydel '97 and Kit Lasher '98. A collection of reflections and opinions from women who attended Amherst College from the inception of coeducation to the present day. See excerpts from the book here.
2001 - 2002 Coeducation at 25: Celebrating Accomplishments and Envisioning the Future – a year-long series of special events honoring the 25th anniversary of the matriculation of the first coeducational class at Amherst College. Visit the web site at: www.amherst.edu/news/coed25/

 



CAN - Coeducation Amherst Now

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The discussion about admitting women to Amherst College began in 1871, but it took more than one hundred years to resolve the question. In 1972 the Trustees once again decided "not to decide" about the question of coeducation. After that Trustee vote, this image – inspired by artist Andy Warhol – was created by students who favored admitting women. The original is a 2 x 3 inch sticker only recently sent to the College by an alumnus who was here at the time.

Gift of Andrew L. Hyams '76



Keep Abreast of the Times - Vote Yes

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On October 15, 1974, the Faculty voted 95 to 29 to "reaffirm ...its sense that Amherst College should become a College for men and women." When the motion on coeducation was introduced in that meeting the women faculty members, who were sitting as a group, rose and revealed T-shirts emblazoned with Keep Abreast of the Times — Vote Yes. This image has come to represent that historic moment in the faculty meeting.

Photograph by Andrew Marks '76, 1974


We're Coed!

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(Click on image for full size view)

On November 2, 1974, the Trustees voted by a margin of 15 to 3 in favor of coeducation. This vote came after years of debate among members of the Board itself, the College administration, and alumni, faculty, and students. Formally, the resolution stated "Voted: Beginning with the academic year 1975-1976, Amherst College will admit women candidates for the B.A. degree." The Amherst Student headline screamed the practical results of the vote on the front page of a special issue for that day.


Commencement, 1976

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In 1975, nine women who were already at Amherst as part of the 12-College Exchange were admitted as transfer students to become members of the Class of 1976. On June 6, 1976, those nine women graduated. By virtue of alphabetical order, Anita Cilderman, a Psychology major originally from Mount Holyoke College, became the first woman to receive a bachelor's degree from Amherst. Here she celebrates the moment with College President John William Ward.

Photograph by Robert E. Kingman '72 , 1976



Commencement, 1980

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The first women admitted as first-year students arrived at Amherst in the fall of 1976 as members of the Class of 1980. They lived in North College, South College, and in Stearns, James, Moore and Pratt dormitories. There were 129 women and 250 men in that class. (The Class of 1976 had 9 women and 308 men; the Class of 1977 had 31 women and 316 men.) The Class of 1980 was the first class with women who attended Amherst for four years. At the College's 159th Commencement on May 24, 1980, 129 of the 379 graduates were women.

Photograph by Delia Hatch Baroni, 1980



Orientation Games

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Orientation for new students traditionally began the week before the College opened. First-year students arrived to register, move into their rooms, and participate in a wide range of activities planned to help them get acquainted with each other and College life and customs. In September 1984 the College was beginning its tenth year of coeducation. Here the students create a huge endless circle – each student supporting the one in front and in back of them. Called the New Games, they were played on Hitchcock Field, below Merrill Science Center.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1984



Moving In

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When Amherst decided to admit women students, it had to find housing for them right away. In fall 1975, 94 sophomore, junior and senior women began classes, including 79 transfer students and 15 students participating in the 12-College Exchange. Women constituted 6.1 percent of the student body. Originally, they were housed in a variety of places, including the Social Dorms and the Lord Jeffery Inn. By April 1976, seven women were hired as Dorm Advisors (now Resident Counselors) as a start toward meeting the residential life concerns of women students. In 1979 women students had been at the College for only four years. In September 1979, 570 women (of a total of 1,535 students) were returning to campus or moving in for the first time. First-year students lived in James and Stearns. Here, a student carries her belongings up the stairs in James.

Photograph by Delia Hatch Baroni, 1979



Class Discussion

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In her Commencement speech, Jennifer Moore '83 said that a coeducational Amherst must be "an institution which both makes a place for women and allows women to make their own place; which values women's own personal and intellectual questioning and which understands that history has been too much his story and needs to be written with more of her story." Today, small classes provide an environment where all students can engage in discussion with fellow students and their professors. In this Introduction to Liberal Studies class on food, students discuss issues relating to socio-political aspects of hunger.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1988



Women in the Sciences

 

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In the early years of coeducation, fewer women students majored in the sciences. Often course work in the sciences requires collaboration with classmates, particularly in class-related laboratory work. In addition, students often receive fellowships to work with faculty on particular research projects. In 1980, after five years of coeducation, 16 women were science majors; by 2000, 46 women earned their degrees in the sciences. This photograph shows a fall semester 1998 chemistry class.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1998



At Home in the College

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Place and space are important elements of every student's college life. At Amherst most students live on campus – choosing to live together with their friends or lucky enough to have a room to themselves. This student's room in Crossett Dormitory in 1994 has many similarities to a student's room of 1894. In both centuries eclectic and very personal decorations and mementos helped make a dorm room feel like home. The computer and portable stereo equipment are clear signs of the 20th century, but the ornate mirror provides a connection to the 19th-century student experience.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1994



Social Life in the Laundry Room

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Laundry is one of those nagging facts of life for students. By the early 1990s men and women students had almost 20 years of experience doing laundry together. This photograph of the laundry room in freshman dormitory James shows a necessary activity which could also be a chance to visit with friends and dorm mates, though not an event ordinarily captured by a camera.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1993



Sabrinas

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Amherst has been called "The Singing College" for decades, reflecting the importance of music and song in the students' lives. In 1977 the Sabrinas were established as Amherst's first all-women singing group. This photograph shows the group at a children's fair on the campus quad two decades later. Concerts by the a capella group have been consistently popular for more than 20 years.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1997



Working on The Amherst Student

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The Amherst Student
was established in 1868 as the College's student newspaper. The paper has always been run completely by students and serves as their voice on campus. In 1973 editor Joice Haines from Mount Holyoke College became the first woman editor on the board of the paper even before the College become coeducational. By 1981, six years into coeducation, Rosanne Haggerty '82 was appointed the first woman chairman (as the editor-in-chief was then called). Women have been active on the Student since they arrived on campus.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1998



Women as Athletes

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When the Trustees voted to admit women in 1974 they immediately funded additions to the facilities for physical education. Many women have participated in intercollegiate, intramural, and club activities since 1975. In 1976 crew had the first women's intercollegiate sports team. Field hockey was established as a varsity women's sport in 1976. Here the "Lady Jeffs" play rival Tufts University on a beautiful Halloween day in 1998.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1998



The College Mascot

 

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Toby Unger '93, the first woman student to be Amherst's Lord Jeff mascot, cheers the College's football team in its opening game against Bates on September 22, 1990. John Whitney '82 created the mascot's role in 1980.



Fans

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Fellow students have always been the greatest fans of College athletes. Here, a group of women from the Class of 1999 show their allegiance to their class as well as their support of the College's athletic events, rooting for Amherst's team during the 1998 football Homecoming game against archrival Williams.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1998



Community Involvement

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Women students have embraced Amherst's tradition of student social activism. On April 11, 1992, students participated in the Third Annual Hunger Clean-Up, coordinated by the Hunger Action Committee as part of the College's community outreach program. Student volunteers met on the Amherst Town Common before going to their assigned work sites. This group was headed to the Survival Center.

Photograph by Donna Taylor, 1992



Senior Assembly

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The 2000 graduating class reflects almost 25 years of coeducation at Amherst and the accompanying growth and changes in the Amherst student community. In 1976 there were 9 women graduates. By 2000 almost half the graduating class were women. In this photograph from May 2000, members of the senior class gathered in their caps and gowns in front of Johnson Chapel for the Senior Assembly, the first formal event of the College's celebrations for seniors.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 2000



A New President Meets a New Student Body

 

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President-elect Tom Gerety met informally with the College community for the first time on February 17, 1994. With that meeting, held in Johnson Chapel, he began the conversations he felt should be a vital part of an Amherst education. He inherited a College with almost 20 years' experience of coeducation. The student body had 706 women and 887 men, and 47 of the 155 faculty members were women.

Photograph by Geoffrey Bluh, 1994



Faculty Marshall Rose Olver

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In 1962 Rose Olver became the first full-time woman faculty member in a tenure-track position as Professor of Psychology. In 1968 she became the first faculty woman to receive tenure. In 1970 Professor Olver became Chair of the Psychology Department, the first woman to chair any College academic department. Adding to this list of firsts, Professor Olver became Faculty Marshal in 1993. This photograph was taken at President Gerety's inauguration on October 23, 1994. Marshal Olver leads the procession with Hampshire County Sheriff Robert Garvey.

Photograph by Frank Ward, 1994

 

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