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Pittsburgh Female College Association Records

Identifier: MSS-2009.001

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the activities of the Pittsburgh Female College Association (PFCA), an organization formed in 1905 to preserve the memory of the Pittsburgh Female College (PFC).  The PFC was an educational institution located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that enrolled female students from 1855 to 1896.  Business records of the Pittsburgh Female College Association form a considerable portion of the collection and include financial records relating to PFCA meetings and annual luncheons, PFCA scholarships, and PFCA publications. These materials take the following documentary forms: daybooks, checking and mortgage account records, receipts, and Treasurer’s reports.  PFCA business records also include correspondence largely related to memorial scholarships founded at Margaret Morrison Carnegie College (later Carnegie-Mellon University), Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie-Mellon University), the University of Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania College for Women (later Chatham University).  Business correspondents of note include Cora Helen Coolidge, President of Chatham College, Mary Breed, President of Margaret Morrison College, and Thomas S. Baker, President of Carnegie Institute of Technology. PFCA publications also form a portion of the collection and consist of association bylaws, registries of members, and assorted public activities. The collection has a small amount of meeting minutes as well as an annual luncheon invitation listing Pennsylvania College for Women President Cora Helen Coolidge as a guest speaker. The collection contains material created by the Pittsburgh Female College, including a near complete collection of Annual Catalogues and a small amount of material documenting curricular and extra-curricular student activities.  The single carte de visite of Reverent I.C. Pershing, the PFC president from 1860 to 1886, comprise the faculty and administration records. The collection also contains a small amount of correspondence and research material related to the donation of a lithograph of the Pittsburgh Female College to the Chatham University Archives.


  • created: 1854-1993


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use and may be accessed on-site from the Archives of Chatham University in the Jennie King Mellon Library.

Biographical or Historical Information

In 1854, Bishop Matthew Simpson received a charter from the Pennsylvania Legislature for the Pittsburgh Female College, the first Pennsylvania institution dedicated to the education of women and permitted to confer degrees. Under the patronage of the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the charter stipulated that the college would accept students of all religious denominations.  Following the resignation of the first president of the school, Reverend Israel C. Pershing was elected president and remained until 1886 when he was accused of defrauding the Methodist Church.  Dr. Allen H. Norcross was president until 1895.  Dr. Nicholas Howell Holmes was president from 1895 to 1896.  Dr. Pershing’s daughter, Lizzie Pershing was the school’s vice president for 1877 – 1886, leaving the school at the same time as her father.  Among the notable the Pittsburgh Female College alumni are Frances E. Willard, Edith Darlington Ammon, and Helen E. Pelletreau, a later president of the Pennsylvania College for Women. The Pittsburgh Female College was first located in downtown Pittsburgh, on present day 8th Street between Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Penn Avenue.  Fires at this location in 1891 and 1893 forced the college to lease a property in the East End of Pittsburgh on Homewood Avenue called “Fahnestock Place.”  In 1896 the Pittsburgh Female College merged with the Beaver College in Beaver, Pennsylvania under the supervision of the Pittsburgh Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church.  Pittsburgh Female College assets were transferred to Beaver College and many students and faculty continued study there.  Beaver College merged with the Beechwood School for Girls in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and severed ties with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1925.  Beaver College was renamed Arcadia University in 2001. The Pittsburgh Female College Association was formed in Pittsburgh 1905 by Miss Nataline M. Crumpton, a Pittsburgh Female College alumna who wished to perpetuate the memory of the school and its culture with the object of promoting education for women. Throughout the early years of the association, several memorial events were produced by the organization.  In 1908, the PFCA began a scholarship program that awarded tuition to a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Margaret Morrison College, Carnegie Technical Institute, and the Pennsylvania College for Women.  The organization also made regular contributions to organizations, including the College Club, the War Library Fund, and donations to musical concerts and cultural events in Pittsburgh.  Miss Helen Pershing was the treasurer of the PFCA for many years.

Note written by


2.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection documents the activities of the Pittsburgh Female College Association (PFCA), an organization formed in 1905 to preserve the memory of the Pittsburgh Female College (PFC).  The PFC was an educational institution located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that enrolled female students from 1855 to 1896.

Arrangement Note

Series I: Pittsburgh Female College Association  Series II: Pittsburgh Female College Series III: Donation

Processing Information

Processed by Molly Tighe under supervision of Rachel Grove Rohrbaugh

Archon Finding Aid Title
Molly Tighe
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Chatham University Special Collections Repository

Woodland Road
Pittsburgh PA 15232 US