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Chatham College Coeducation Debate Collection

Identifier: 2016.001

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the first formal consideration of coeducation at Chatham in the late 1960s and provides a historical context for the reinauguration of the debate in 1990. The reference materials contained in this collection, primarily newspaper, correspondence, and magazine clippings, pertain to both the coeducation debate at Chatham, as well as similar debates taking place at other women’s colleges nationally. Reports document the work of various taskforces and committees created to manage and research a range of issues pertinent to the debate. There are also supplementary materials that pertain to the resurgence of the coeducation debate in 1990.  Coeducation in graduate programs and move to coeducation in 2016 are not included in this collection.


  • Created: 1890-1990
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1989-1990


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical or Historical Information

In the late 1960s, Chatham College explored options to improve the enrollment and financial stability of the school, which included a discussion of opening admission to men. A series of committees were assembled to analyze the potential for coeducation at Chatham. Research focused mainly on contemporary national debates regarding the future of women’s colleges and the trend towards coeducation. A vote on November 6, 1970 ruled in favor of remaining strictly a women’s college. On February 12, 1990, the Board of Trustees voted to consider major changes to the college, including coeducation. The vote came after Vice-Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Committee on the Future of the College, Louise Brown, recommended to the Board that the Charter of the College be amended to offer the B.A. and B.S. degrees to both women and men beginning in the 1991-1992 academic year. The vote initiated widespread debate among faculty, students, and alumnae, who were formally petitioned to share their opinions through both correspondence and public forums. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of preserving Chatham’s status as a college for women. Rebecca Stafford, Chatham president since 1983, officially resigned on June 30, 1991.

Note written by Rebecca Machado and Katherine Rafferty


1.90 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This artificial collection documents the process by which coeducation was proposed, researched, debated, and ultimately defeated in the late 1960s and in the early 1990s. The bulk of the records originate from the office of President Stafford.  Coeducation in graduate programs and move to coeducation in 2016 are not included in this collection.

Arrangement Note

Series 1, Records regarding women’s colleges and the prospect of coeducation, 1890-1984, bulk 1967-1973 Series 2, Coeducation files of President Rebecca Stafford, 1989-1991 Series 3, Supplementary coeducation records, 1984-1991, bulk 1989-1990

Related Materials

The Board of Trustees meeting minutes from the 1990s provide more information about the internal debate about coeducation, in particular Folder 242 (Executive Committee, 1/04/1990-8/29/1990).  Also, a pamphlet on coeducation found in this collection is also accessible in the online issue of the Alumnae Recorder, Spring 1971, accessible here:

Finding Aid for Chatham Coeducation Collection
Molly Tighe
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Chatham University Archives Repository

Woodland Road
Pittsburgh PA 15232 US
412-365-1465 (Fax)