Women, Coeducation and the Mission of Swarthmore College

As women were an integral part of the founding of Swarthmore College, so too were they equally regarded as students. Co-education, the opportunity for women to engage in college work as equals with men, was unusual and still controversial at the time of Swarthmore's inception. In a letter dated May 3, 1866, written on the occasion of the Laying of the Cornerstone of College Hall [Parrish] in May,1866, the founder and later President of Swarthmore College, Edward H. Magill, states:

Text prepared by Beth Bartle
Last update: 6/4/02

Pictured above are Edward H. Magill, first President of Swarthmore College (top right), and two members of the first graduating class, his daughter, Helen Magill (left) and Esther Townsend Moore (bottom right). Helen Magill went on to earn a Ph.D. at Boston University in 1877. She was active in the field of education and, in 1890, married Andrew Dickson White of Cornell University. Moore was wed to William Hyde Appleton, Professor of Greek and later President of Swarthmore College.