History of Wilson College 1868 to 1970

Author: Longacre, Judith
Year:1997
Pages:228
ISBN:0-7734-8696-8
978-0-7734-8696-6
Price:179.95
This fascinating volume traces the social as well as historical development of Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, from 1868 until the retirement of President Paul Swain Havens in 1970. Besides archival and library research including old issues of literary journals, yearbooks, and alumnae bulletins, the study incorporates letters from Wilson alumnae (those written at the time of their attendance, and later reminiscences) and formal interviews with alumnae and former professors. These bring the campus social scene vividly to life, on topics as disparate as faculty personalities, the honor system in examinations, the issue of smoking, and the effects of the World Wars. It shows how Wilson's small size, its practice of encouraging congenial interaction between students and faculty, its commitment to teaching, its long term affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, and its close ties with the community of Chambersburg contributed to its ability to survive the first wave of college closures which particularly began to affect small, single-sex, private liberal arts colleges in the second half of the 1960s. It also identifies the strengths and weaknesses of past Presidents and Lady Principals, with particular attention to Paul Swain Havens, the last of Wilson's traditional presidents.

Reviews

"Longacre's study is particularly important given the paucity of historical scholarship on women's colleges. . . . The volume is likely to be of interest to scholars specializing in the history of higher education and church history. . . . This study is likely to be of interest to scholars specializing in women's studies. A number of feminists have argued convincingly that some feminist scholarship presents women as helpless victims. Such cannot be said of Longacre's study, which centers on the successful struggle of a community of women to maintain a separate female space. . . . Throughout her study, Longacre draws from recent scholarship to establish the broader social and educational context of Wilson's development. She bases her interpretation on a rich body of primary documents and personal interviews." - Lucy Townshend, Northern Illinois University; Curator, Blackwell History of Education Research Collection