Rutger’s Female College

Rutgers University — the main campus located in New Jersey — opened a college for women on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 1867.  The college moved to  a new building at 54-58 West  55th Street in 1882 and closed in 1895.

At this time there  were four women’s colleges in the northeast.[1]Women were also allowed to enroll in either of Manhattan’s two normal schools, the term used for colleges that trained teachers. Of these four (Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Rutgers) , all but Rutgers Female College still exist.

Rutgers Women's College on Fifth Avenue, across from the Croton Reservoir. Looking North.
Rutgers Women’s College on Fifth Avenue, across from the Croton Reservoir. Looking North.

 

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Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1857 – 1862). [Excerpt from Plate 78: Map bounded by West 42nd Street, East 42nd Street, Fourth Avenue, East 37th Street, West 37th Street, Sixth Avenue.]
The college was located directly across the street from the Croton Reservoir. The first photo below is taken looking south on Fifth Avenue from the intersection at 42nd Street. Both the reservoir and the college are clearly visible.

Compare the two photos below. The upper photo was taken at the intersection of 41st Street and Fifth, and probably from the walkway along the top of the reservoir and facing northeast. The lower photo was taken looking due north from the intersection at 42nd Street at ground level.  The red dot on the building at the northeast corner of 42nd and Fifth should make the different in perspective clear.  The two photos provide a very different sense of what Fifth Avenue was like in the mid 1880s.

from-41-42-north-on-fifth

Curriculum

The curriculum was an odd mixture of organic chemistry and advanced math (on one extreme) and Bible studies and decorative botany (on the other). Greek and German were taught (but not required); French and Latin seem to have been unavoidable.

Rutgers Female College
Rutgers Female College

 

References

References
1Women were also allowed to enroll in either of Manhattan’s two normal schools, the term used for colleges that trained teachers.

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