The first schools to offer the equivalent of a college-level education for women opened during the 1820s, but the concept of sending one’s daughters to college did not become widespread until the late nineteenth century. As the demand for female college education grew, so did the demand for private college preparatory schools. For families that could afford it, private school and college education for women became highly desirable, although there was some concern that a young woman could become “over-educated,” dooming her to the life of an unhappy spinster.

In 1833, Oberlin College was established in Ohio as the first co-educational college in the world. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened in 1837 as the first college for women.

Cornwall’s First Female College Students

A search of alumnae directories for colleges that enrolled female students during the nineteenth century reveals a little over a dozen college women from Cornwall. They are listed here by college, with class year indicated for Mount Holyoke students and final year of attendance for students at Oberlin and Wellesley.

Mount Holyoke
Lewey A. Bierce, 1842
Mary W. Chapin, 1843
Elizabeth M. Bell, 1847
Isabella G. Bierce, 1851
Parnellie M. Ives, 1869
Harriet J. Pratt, 1876
Harriet J. Miles, 1881
Ellen R. Miner, 1882

Jane R. Blake, 1852
Lydia Rebecca Rogers, 1855
Martha Wadsworth Gold, 1882
Nettie Cornelia Harrison, 1882

Alice Tracy Gold, 1883
Harriet Beecher Scoville, 1883
Annie Beecher Scoville, 1887