Alma mater: design and experience in the women's colleges by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz

By Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz

Alma Mater: layout and adventure within the Women's faculties from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the Thirties ASIN: 0870238698

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I am thankful to her for preferring the WPA in California to women's colleges. College archives proved to have not only excellent collections but also splendid archivists. I gratefully acknowledge the rich repositories at Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, and Scripps. In particular, Wilma R. Slaight of the Wellesley College Archives, Mary B. Trotter of the Smith College Archives, Lucy Fisher West of the Bryn Mawr College Archives, and Judith Harvey-Sahak of the Scripps College Archives went beyond archival caretaking to engage in the search for materials with me.

They must imagine a future career and begin to take steps toward it. They must keep, lose, make, or not make a sustaining relationship with another. All of this takes place within eight terms of unremitting work, each ending with papers and examinations that test their abilities and endurance to the breaking point. Nor are women's colleges utopias for women. There are issues other than gender to face, for each student belongs to a religious or ethnic group and race, each student springs from an economic class.

Students are divided by sexual orientation. Some seek partners among other women. Others miss the dailiness of male companionship or heterosexual fun. Real societies of women are not Herlands: they have pecking orders, exclusions as well as inclusions. Power still corrupts. Passion still roils. Yet to state this is only to remind us of what we already know: that women's colleges exist within a society of real human beings. It is not to deny that women's colleges have value. At one level I am a pragmatist on women's colleges.

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