Barnard College, 1889 – 1945: a Time Line



                                                             Barnard College Timeline
1754 – 1945




1754 King’s College, subsequently Columbia University, founded in New York  by the City’s leading Anglicans and  with public funding.  No provision for women students Columbia history
women’ higher education
1784 King’s College renamed and rechartered as Columbia College. Anglican aspects of the earlier college officially eliminated by new charter, though continued in practice. Columbia history
1810 Last substantial revision of Columbia charter. Remains in force. Contains no provision for  enrolling women but no specific provision precluding doing so. Columbia history
1837 Newly opened Oberlin College admits women Women’s higher education
1839 Georgia Female Academy in Macon, Georgia, the first women’s college in the US Women’s higher education
1865 Vassar College opens in Poughkeepsie, NY. The oldest of what in the 1920s becomes known as “The Seven Sisters.” Women’s higher education
1869 Cornell university opens; officially coeducational Women’s higher education
1873 Lillie Devereux Blake calls upon Columbia trustees to open Columbia to women. School of Mines faculty Ogden Rood, Charles A. Joy and John S. Newberry allowing women at their lectures. Columbia women
1875 Wellesley College opens in Boston suburb of Wellesley, Mass., and Smith College opens in Northampton.  Numbers 2 and 3 of Seven Sisters, Women’s higher education
1876 Columbia Trustees receive a memorial from a New York-based Sorosis  group calling upon Columbia to open admission to its three schools (the College, the law school, the School of Mines) and to its then  affiliated medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Trustees decline to do so. Columbia women
1879 Columbia trustees prohibit women from attending classes. Columbia women
1879 Columbia president Frederick A. P. Barnard uses the first of three successive annual President Reports to argue for the admission of women to Columbia’s schools. Columbia administration
Columbia women
1881 Upon receipt of Barnard’s third report calling for the admission of women, the trustees restricted  use of his annual reports and rejected his arguments. Faculty and College undergraduates also opposed Barnard’s call for coeducation. Columbia administration
Columbia women
1882 A public meeting  and petition drive of the newly formed “Association for Promotion of Higher Education of Women” secures support from some of the City’s  leading women among its 1400 signatories. Not all signatories in favor of coeducation. Wmen’s Higher education
1884 Columbia trustees allow a woman and Wellesley graduate, Winifred Edgerton, to receive graduate instruction in astronomy under “special circumstances.”  She receives a PhD from the School of Mines in 1886. Columbia women
1885 Columbia College opens a trustee-authorized “Collegiate Course for Women,” where women are provided separate instruction in some of the subjects open to male undergraduates. Among the women who applied, the 18-year-old  Annie Nathan, the Nathans multi-generational New Yorkers  and Sephardic Jews,  who withdrew her application upon marrying Dr. Alfred Meyer and becoming Annie Nathan Meyer. Columbia women
1885 Bryn Mawr College opens in suburban Philadelphia, with aspirations to becoming “a female Johns Hopkins.’ Becomes by date of founding the 5th of the Seven Sisters. Women’s Higher education
1887 Mount Holyoke Seminary (1837) rechartered as Mount Holyoke College. The 6th of the “Seven Sisters.” Women’s Higher education
1888 January 21 — Annie Nathan Meyer writes a column in The Nation calling upon the Columbia trustees to open an affiliated  school for undergraduate women along the lines of Harvard’s recently opened “Annex” in  1879,  later Radcliffe College. Columbia librarian, Melvil Dewey, encouraged Meyer in her efforts. Women’s Higher education
1888 May 7 – At the same trustee meeting that the ailing President Barnard submitted his resignation, the board approved in principle  the proposal for a separate women’s  “annex” as long as it was financially self-sufficient. The trustees preferred this to countenancing continued pressure for coeducation Women’s higher education
Barnard-Columbia  relations
1889 April 1 —  Columbia trustees approve resolution for the establishment of Barnard College. Barnard-Columbia relations
1889 October 7 – The affiliated women’s college opens in 4-story brownstone on 343 Madison Avenue between  East 44th and  45th Street, four blocks south of the Columbia campus at Madison and 49th. Named  “Barnard College” in honor of the recently deceased Frederick A.P. Barnard. Campus
1889-90 Fourteen students registered as regular degree  students, another 22 to do special work in science Enrollments
22-member Barnard Board of Trustees organizedRev. Arthur Brooks, chairman
Jacob H. Schiff, treasurer


1889 J.P. Morgan makes gift of $5000, the first received by the College to enable its opening. Gifts
1889 Ella Weed, a Vassar graduate and heretofore headmistress of Miss Brown’s School for Girls,   becomes the college’s first head, although not dean (1889-94); instruction expected to be  provided by Columbia instructors, who would be compensated from Barnard tuitions Administration
1889 Financier and charter trustee, Jacob Schiff, becomes the College’s  first treasurer. One of at least  two Jewish members  on the original board. Trustees
1889 Tuition set at $150.00 per year. Remains so to 1915. Tuition
1890 Barnard hires its first faculty member, Emily L. Gregory,  when no one on Columbia faculty available to teach botany.  Appointed lecturer by Columbia. Gregory continued to teach at Barnard until her death in 1897. Faculty
1890 Columbia reorganization into three graduate faculties has the Faculty of Philosophy  admitting women for graduate study. Columbia professional schools
1891 Seth Low becomes 11th president of Columbia; earlier as trustee had supported establishment of Barnard College. Columbia relations
1891 November – Columbia trustees announce plan to move campus from Madison Avenue to Morningside Heights. Campus
1892 Mary E. (Mrs. Van Wyck) Brinckerhoff offered Barnard  a matching gift of $100,000 to construct a building within 1000 feet of Columbia’s planned campus on Morningside Heights. Brinckerhoff gift had come through the solicitation of her attorney,  Barnard trustee Frederick Wait. Finances
1892 Students organize Undergraduate Association Student Life
1894 Emily James Smith,  a PhD from the University of Chicago in Greek,  becomes Barnard’s first dean, upon death of  Ella Weed Administration
1894 Publisher George A. Plimpton (1855-1936) succeeds Jacob Schiff as Barnard treasurer; holds position until death in 1936; the College’s principal fundraiser for four decades. Finances
1895 Barnard trustees buy  one city block of land at Broadway between  119th  and 120th Street, adjacent to the northwest corner of  planned Columbia campus and southwest of the planned Teachers College campus,  for $160,000. Anonymous gift of $100,000 [from Elizabeth Milbank Anderson ]  provides the matching funds for a total of $200,000 to build two buildings. Anderson’s interest in Barnard stimulated by her minister, the Rev.  Arthur Brooks, an original Barnard trustee. Anderson insisted on the use of her architect, Charles Rich. Campus
1895 Seth Low anonymously used some of  his own personal wealth to establish three endowed professorships at Barnard College, which would be held by Columbia professors who would provide instruction at Barnard . GiftsFaculty
1895 Chairs financed by Low filled by John Bates Clark (political economy), James H. Robinson (history) and Frank N. Cole (mathematics). Faculty
Political Economy
1895 Graduates of classes of 1893 and 1894 organize Associate Alumnae of Barnard College Alumnae
1896 May—Barnard fundraising efforts just meet the 4-year matching requirement of  the Brinkerhoff  gift. Fundraising
1897 May — Martha (Mrs. Josiah ) Fiske gives Barnard $140,000 to fund the third wing of the new building. Gifts
1897 October — Columbia officially moves from its second campus in mid-town to its new campus on  Morningside Heights Campus
1897 The yearbook, Mortarboard, begun by class of 1898. Student life
1897 Columbia’s Faculty of Pure Science opens some of its graduate courses to Barnard seniors. Columbia professional schools
1898 October — Barnard moves from Madison and 45th into its new U-shaped building named “Milbank Hall,” in honor of Anderson’s parents.  “Brinckerhoff Hall”  its east  wing housing science labs and a theatre, with “Fiske Hall” its west wing. Fiske  serves as dormitory for next four  years. Campus
1898 December – Barnard  in debt almost $130,000, with no plans to fund it. A fund to eliminate the debt is created by board chairman Abram S. Hewitt, with his $10,000 gift. Over the next year the remaining $120,000 is given by Elizabeth Milbank Anderson ($34,000), John D. Rockefeller ($10,000; his wife on the board) and  J. P.   Morgan ($10,000). Finances
1898 Barnard trustees agree to have alumnae trustees on the board. [Columbia does not do so until 1909] Trustees
1900 January 19  – Dean Emily James Smith (now Emily James Smith Putnam following her marriage ion 1899) and president Low reached  intercorporate  agreement by which Barnard becomes the “the undergraduate institution for women of Columbia University,” with its own board of trustees and faculty, some of whom could also hold Columbia appointments. Barnard-Columbia relations
1900 February –Dean Smith/Putnam resigned upon announcing that she was pregnant.  James Harvey Robinson became acting dean. Administration
1900 Barnard drops Greek as an entrance requirement; those for Latin, English and Math remain in place. Entrance requirements
1900 March 15 — Barnard faculty holds its first faculty meeting;  to be comprised of professors  “whose office is at Barnard College and whose interests  are centered there.”  Fifteen original members.  Faculty  organized a “Committee on Curriculum and Scheme of Attendance, later designated “Committee on Instruction.”” Faculty
1900 Estate of Daniel B. Fayerweather gives $100,000 to Barnard College Gifts
1901 May — Laura Gill, Smith College and Sorbonne graduate (in mathematics) becomes Barnard’s 2nd  dean. Her deanship a bumpy one, especially in her dealings with Teachers College. Administration
1901 November — John D. Rockefeller promised a gift of $200,000, if the trustees could match it within 18 months. Again, the match was  made with great effort (and from  77 separate donors). Gift
1902 Barnard Bulletin commences publication as a weekly student newspaper. Student Life
1903 Barnard trustees purchase two blocks immediately south of original campus, between 116th and 118th Street, from New York Hospital, for $1,000,000. Again, Elizabeth Milbank Anderson provided the money to do so. The trustees designated the property  “Milbank Quadrangle.”Campus now measures 200’ east/west and  725’ north/south, or 145,000 square feet (3.33 acres). CampusGifts
1905 Barnard modified its curriculum in company with Columbia College. Requirements include 2 years of science, a half-year of logic and courses from 16 departments. Curriculum
1907 First building on southern part of the campus, the dormitory Brooks Hall, under construction. Funds provided by Mrs. Anderson and named for her minister and original Barnard trustee, the Rev. Arthur Brooks. Building backed onto 116th Street with west side fronting Claremont Avenue, which had yet to be built upon. Campus
1906 Gill resigns as dean after dispute with Columbia’s president Nicholas Murray Butler; English professor William T. Brewster becomes acting dean (1907-10) Administration
1907 Barnard had eight Greek sororities. Student  life
1908 Brewster and Barnard faculty produce a “Tentative Report” on College’s mission; establish a Committee of Instruction. Curriculum
1910 Barnard College endowment $1,000,000. Operating budget of $160,000. Enrollments of 500 Finances
1911 February — Virginia C. Gildersleeve, a 34-year old lecturer in the Columbia and Barnard English Departments , graduate of Barnard College (1899, majored in history)and Columbia PhD (1908), becomes Barnard’s 3rd dean. Had Butler’s backing. Administration
1911 Dean Gildersleeve inherits a Barnard with a $200,000 budget, a $33,000 deficit, and 514 students. Finances
1911 John S. Kennedy gives Barnard $150,000 at start of College’s “Quarter Century Fund,” which was seeking to raise $2,000,000 in endowment by 1914. Did not do so until 1920. Gifts
1912 Student Freda Kirchwey (BC 1913) launches campaign against sororities at Barnard.  All closed by 1915. Student life
1914 Twice-a-week required Chapel eliminated Student Life
1915 Barnard treasurer George A. Plimpton persuaded retiring Barnard trustee Horace W. Carpentier to give Barnard a $100,000 gift  for scholarships, ostensibly for Chinese students, but with the unused interest reverting to the general fund of The College. Gifts
1915 Tuition raised from $ 150 to $200. Finances
Jacob Schiff gives $500,000, in celebration of his 50 years in America,  to help underwrite the construction costs of a new “Students’ Hall,” which  faced the Columbia campus
1917 February – Barnard Undergraduate Association voted against University’s statement favoring intervention in the war in Europe. Student life
1917 October – University decisions about what constitutes support for war prompts resignations of Charles A. Beard and Henry D. Mussey. Public service
Barnard geologist Ogilvie heads up wartime Women’s Agricultural Camp in Bedford, NY,  where Barnard students engaged in farm work. Public service
1917 November — Presence of a gymnasium in new building led to creation of Department of Physical Education. Departments
Physical Education
1917 Columbia medical school admits its first Barnard applicant, Galli Lindh, ’17. Columbia professional schools
1917 Upon Horace Carpenti er’s death,  Barnard received from his residual estate a second gift of $1,500,000, which   provided most of Barnard’s financial aid funding  into the 1950s. Gifts
1917 One year of Latin no longer required. Students must earn 120 points to graduate. 52 points of requirements; 24 points in major; 12 points in minor Curriculum
1920s Enrollments steady at 1000; upwards of 40% of students started college elsewhere. Enrollments
1920 Tuition raised from $200 to $250; full professor salary range from $6000 to $8000 Tuition
Faculty compensation
1922 Columbia and Barnard switch arrangements from swapping hours of instruction to swapping tuition fees to cover cross registrations CU-BC relations
1923 William T. Brewster steps down as provost; the office eliminated. Chief academic officer thereafter the Dean of the faculty. Administration
1924 A second dormitory, Hewitt Hall, named for original trustee Abram Hewitt, under construction linked on its southern side  to Brooks Hall and extending along Claremont Avenue. The last  building to be built on Barnard campus for thirty years. At opening of Hewitt only one in five Barnard students lived on campus. Campus
1924 Department of Anthropology organized; overseen by Columbia professor Franz Boas Academic departments
1924 Department of Government organized upon appointment of Raymond Moley. Academic departments
Political Science
1925 Tuition charge changed to $8.00 per point to increase income by $30,000. Tuition
1926 Students’ Hall renamed “Barnard Hall.” Buildings
1926 Department of Fine Arts organized with appointment of Norman Haring Academic departments
Art History Department
1926 Barnard revised its curriculum to emphasize its discipline-specific character, in contrast with Columbia College’s increased emphasis on general education in the “Core.” Curriculum
1927 Columbia law school admitting its first Barnard graduates. Columbia professional schools
1927 Summer School for Women Workers in Industry opened; continued until 1933 when closed because of expense Public service
1927 “Seven Women’s College of the East” organized; later referred to as ‘the Seven Sisters.” Women’s higher education
1928 Music Department organized with the appointment of Douglas Moore as Professor under the Joline Foundation. Academic Departments
1930 Tuition raised from $8.00 a point to $10.00. Full professor salaries in $7,500 to $12,000 range. Tuition
1933 Depression left Barnard dorms under occupied;  financial aid needs up substantially; $60,000 spent annually Finances
1934 Federal Emergency Relief Administration funds used to employ students assisting faculty and staff Financial aid
1934 Alumnae launch first Annual Fund Fundraising
1934 Effort by trustee Annie Nathan Meyer to rename Barnard Hall after its donor, Jacob Schiff, rejected by Barnard trustees amidst charges of anti-semitism  directed at trustees and administrators. [Not mentioned in Marian Churchill White’s book] Trustees
1935 Barnard acquired lot across from Milbank Hall on northeast corner of Claremont and 120th Street for future expansion.
“50th Anniversary Fund” undertaken to raise the needed $1 million by 1939.
Fund raising
1936 Treasure George Plimpton died; College assets then $9.25 million Finances
1939 50th Anniversary Fund meets its goal of raising $1 million. Fundraising
1939 Barnard celebrates its 50th anniversary; marked by publication of Barnard College: the First Fifty Years, by Alice Duer Miller and Susan Myers. Celebration
1939 Barnard pioneers in establishing interdepartmental majors in Medieval Studies and American Studies. Curriculum
American Studies
Medieval Studies
1941-45 Faculty serving in military include Faculty
Public  service

Last updated: January 2, 2014

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