PECULIAR INSTITUTIONS: An Informal History of the Seven Sister Colleges by Elaine Kendall

PECULIAR INSTITUTIONS: An Informal History of the Seven Sister Colleges

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A social, occasionally institutional, history of the Seven Sister Colleges--Smith, Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Wellesley, Bamard, Radcliffe, and Bryn Mawr--from the days of their founding to the present. The first third of the book is devoted to the history of women's education and the predominantly masculine fears that female education would undermine society. Kendall gives a detailed account of the pioneers--rather eccentric, single-minded figures--who forged ahead. They range from Mary Lyon (Mount Holyoke), the only feminist among them, to a Poughkeepsie brewer, an embittered Massachusetts spinster (Smith), a criminal lawyer (Wellesley) and the Radcliffe and Bamard equivalents. The author begins to meander in the middle, as she discusses the struggles and rewards of life at each school. Even if they're dealt with singly, the effect is a blur of their financial and academic hardships as well as the raging controversies these' colleges provoked. The book reflects the shifting history of the times, up through the activist '60's, and it is a mishmash of facts and figures from college archives, personal stories, and a concise course on women's history. Nostalgic alumnae may take the sentimental journey if only to disagree that ""it's finally time for the last valedictory.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1975
Publisher: Putnam