Research Proposal

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Research Question: Why did many American colleges and institutions of higher learning decide to co-educate? What changes did co-education for colleges entitle, and how do those changes show progression in women’s education?

Relevance: After working in the Watkinson Library and looking through yearbooks and bulletins, I became very interested in the topic of co-education. It never occurred to me that the co-education in higher institutions of learning such as colleges and universities was so recent. Trinity College made the drastic change and became a college that admitted women in 1969; it was one of the first colleges to do so. Although that change was made over 40 years ago, in respect to the history of this country and other advancements made in favor or women in the past, 40 years ago was relatively recent. This study is relevant to education 300 because it has a direct connection to our college itself, and marks an important milestone in the history of our nation, the history of progress for females, and the history of education. The decision to admit women to universities and colleges marked a revolutionary moment for education. This decision altered the way college programs ran, the curriculum, campus life, and basically every aspect of the college. The decision to co-educate at the college level also provided women with more job opportunities as they learned the skills necessary to obtain successful careers; careers that would not have necessarily been open to them from attending primary and secondary schools. With all this in mind, the decision to co-educate was largely monumental and thus deserves careful research. After all, this decision has changed the American education system forever.

Research Strategy: I would like to investigate several aspects of co-education. I wish to investigate when various colleges and universities decided to adopt co-education. I wish to compare these statistics to Trinity to help me better understand the motives for co-education. I also wish to look at these statistics in order to better understand what year was the norm for the transformation of colleges and universities into co-education institutions. I would also like to research the education opportunities for women before colleges and universities decided to co-educate. Thus, I would like to look extensively at women’s schooling in the past, during more recent times, but also during times such as the women’s rights movement.  Research on these topics will support a more comprehensive analysis for the answer of my question, as well as indicate what types of jobs women may have been eligible for before they attended universities. Of course I will also include research directly relevant to my question. I will use scholarly articles from websites such as Google scholar and JSTOR when conducting my research. I will also use newspaper sources such as the Hartford Courant and the NY Times Historical. I will also contact the librarian in order to obtain any necessary print information that would further my topic.


Primary Sources:

  1. 1. Educating Women in America by Sally Schwager
  • Article located on JStor
  • Published by the University of Chicago Press.

2. The Hartford Courant: College Education for Women New York Times (1857-1922); Nov 18, 1888; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) pg. 4

Secondary Sources:

1. Co-Education Attacked: The Hartford Courant (1887-1922); Jun 11, 1915; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Hartford Courant (1764-1986) pg. 8

  • This source addresses the debate surrounding co-education at the University of Pennsylvania. Although this article reflects the specific issues of one school with this concept, it also reflects on the sentiments of other colleges and the controversies that surrounded co-education.

2. EDUCATION IN REVIEW: Great Increase in Number of Women Students Brings Many Chang

By BENJAMIN FINE New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 30, 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) pg. 79

  • This source touches on the many issues that plagued college campuses when they first decided to co-educate. Once again, this source testifies to the controversies that surrounded this change.

3. The New York Times (1851-2008): The Results of Six Years Experiences in the University of Michigan

  • This source is useful in obtaining information about the actual practice of co-education in Universities. It displays the gender dynamic between men and women, and what was expected of women.

One thought on “Research Proposal”

  1. As we discussed at our meeting, I support your decision to do a comparative study of two similar liberal arts colleges, Trinity and Amherst, whose histories of coeducation differ. You proposed a new research question, and together, we reworded it slightly into a richer question: What factors led to the decision to co-educate at Trinity (in fall 1969) and Amherst (in fall 1975), and how were the first generation of women students treated at these two colleges?

    Regarding sources, for student experiences of co-education, the best material is probably alumnae recollections in Haydel and Lasher, The Fairest College? (Amherst) and the Noreen Channels survey on women from Trinity (at Watkinson). For the reasons behind coeducation at each institution, look for an institutional history of Amherst in the library and/or look for book chapters about history of co-education that mention Amherst in library (see Leslie Miller-Bernal and Susan Poulson), and also see Peter Knapp, Trinity College in the Twentieth Century, chapter 6.

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