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Evelyn College for Women: Wikis


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Evelyn College for Women
Established 1887 - 1897
Type Women's College
President Joshua Hall McIlvaine
Location Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Evelyn College for Women, often shortened to Evelyn College, was the coordinate women's college of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey between 1887 and 1897. It was the first women's college in the State of New Jersey.



Evelyn was founded by clergyman Joshua Hall McIlvaine, a Princeton alumnus and former professor at the institution. He named the college after Sir John Evelyn and was able to recruit most of Princeton's most noted faculty members, including Woodrow Wilson and Henry Fine, to teach at the college. Helen Magill White, the first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D., also taught at Evelyn.

Student body

The Evelyn student body was never composed of more than 50 students in one year and was made up primarily of the daughters of faculty members and sisters of male undergraduates. The women called themselves The Orange and the White, a reference to the colors of the university.

With a 50-to-1 ratio of men to women at Princeton, Evelyn students were subject to considerable harassment from their male counterparts. Police were employed to keep the men off the Evelyn campus, though the male students would still stand outside the gates chanting for the women to let them inside. Princeton and Evelyn students were rumored to have trysts in abandoned houses, a reputation which caused some families to ban their daughters from attending.

Reputation and closure

In 1896, Harper's Bazaar published an article about the college, noting that "[i]n the most conservative town, in the most conservative state, right under the shadow of Nassau Hall, a women's college has evolved" and that the day would come when "our country shall...speak with equal pride of the sons and daughters of Princeton."

However, the college fell on hard times financially after the Panic of 1893 and struggled to keep enrollment up. It closed permanently in 1897 after McIlvaine's death. Women were not permitted to enroll at Princeton again until 1969, when the university would become coeducational.

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