The Seven Sisters, Famous Eastern Women’s Colleges

Although higher education had been available to male Americans from the 17th century (Harvard, 1636), the women were required to wait until the last decades of the 19th century.

In the United States–and in the world–the oldest college chartered expressly for women is Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. It was chartered as the Georgia Female College on December 23, 1836.

Although the oldest, Wesleyan is not numbered among the colleges known as the Seven Sisters. These famed women’s colleges are clustered in the Northeastern United States:

1837: Mount Holyoke, South Hadley, Massachusetts
1861 Vassar, Poughkeepsie, New York
1870 Wellesley, Wellesley, Massachusetts
1871 Smith, Northampton, Massachusetts
1885 Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
1889 Barnard, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York
1894 Radcliffe, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Only five of the Seven Sisters remain women’s colleges. Vassar became co-educational in 1969, and Radcliffe has merged with Harvard.

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