Excerpts dealing with the exclusion of male residential students in 1866, from various accounts of Shimer College.
This list is in reverse chronological order by date of publication. The date of McKee (1928) is approximate.
From its inception, the school was coeducational, although during the latter part of the 19th century, girls outnumbered boys by a significant margin. Beginning in 1866, shortage of space led the seminary to accept only female resident students. While non-resident male students occasionally attended after that date, the seminary became noted as a women‘s school. In the 19th century, women rarely received formal education, and few institutions granted women access to higher education. Mount Carroll Seminary was therefore historically significant.
"My whole ambition has ever been to do something smart: Frances Wood Shimer, Cinderella Gregory, and the 1853 Founding of Shimer College", Doris Malkmus, Journal of Illinois History Vol. 6, pp. 212-213:
Shimer wrote in 1878 that overcrowding of the new buildings forced them to exclude boys, not, "because the management was opposed to educating the sexes together," in fact, "the principal is in favor of the co-education of the sexes, and hopes, at no distant day, to be able to re-open the seminary to boys and young men." Her emphasis, as always, was not just on the equal intellectual abilities of women, but on women's abilities in arenas typically forbidden to them -- enterprise, mechanical aptitude, and leadership. Coeducation epitomized women's ability not only to compete effectively with men on those levels, but to reframe national and political agendas set by men.
"Big Ideas", Harold Henderson, Chicago Reader:
In 1866, crowding forced the school to go all-female, except for the occasional male day student--a matter of convenience rather than principle.
"Shimer College Presidency", Patrick Moorhead:
In 1866, a decision was made by Mrs. Shimer to restrict the enrollment to female students.
1977-1978 Catalog, Shimer College, p. 23:
Founded in 1853 by Frances Ann Wood, who later became Mrs. Frances Wood Shimer, the College began as the Mount Carroll Seminary, enrolling both men and women students in its first years. At the close of the Civil War, however, enrollment was limited to women students.
By 1866 crowded conditions caused the elimination of young men students.
"Ninety-Three Years Speak Out", p. 3:
By the end of the Civil War the student body had outgrown the several buildings. Mrs. Shimer had to make a difficult decision as to who should be admitted. She decided to turn the school exclusively toward the education of girls. This step was another pioneering venture, for in 1870 there were in these United States only a few schools devoted to the education of women.
In 1866 the crowded condition led them to the decision to exclude boys and make the school a "seminary for young ladies."
In 1866 the crowded condition necessitated the exclusion of young men, and the school afterward continued a “seminary for young ladies.”
For thirteen years young women and men were received as students, but the demand for room became so great that it was necessary to limit the attendance and it was decided to receive young women only.
- Portrait and Biographical Album of Carroll County, pp. 823-824:
Boy pupils were accommodated until 1867, and then, on account of crowded quarters, it was decided that they would have to be removed, although Mrs. Shrimer believes in co-education and would have given them room if possible.
The Mt. Carroll Seminary for the first fourteen years received both sexes, having as many young men in attendance as young women. As a "mixed school" it was an eminent success. The young men here "fitted for college," took a high rank in the different institutions they afterward entered and graduated from, doing credit to the seminary faculty, which at that time was made up almost exclusively of lady teachers. As an instance, one of the young men fitted here for college was admitted, on examination, to the senior year at one of the oldest eastern colleges, from which he graduated in one year. His preparation in mathematics had been entirely under the instruction of lady teachers.
Young men were ultimately excluded from the seminary, much to the regret of all concerned, solely for the want of room to accommodate all.
The History of Carroll County, Illinois, pp. 342-349:
Up to 1864, the seminary had been open to both sexes, but in that year it was closed against young men and boys, and devoted exclusively to the education of girls and young women. This was not because the management was opposed to educating the sexes together, but because the accommodations were not sufficient. On the contrary, the principal is in favor of the co-education of the sexes, and hopes, at no distant day, to be able to re-open the seminary to boys and young men.
Seventh biennial report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, "Mount Carroll Seminary" (presumed author Frances Shimer), page 280:
Until recently the school was opened to pupils of both sexes, and the results were entirely satisfactory, but now gentlemen are temporarily (for two years past) excluded, for want of room to accommodate all who wish to attend.