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Hartford College for Women

Hartford College for Women
Creator Dates of Collection Linear Feet
1930 to 2000s

Hartford College for Women (HCW) played an important part in the history of higher education for women in the US and was one of the finest providers of single sex education in its day. The college began as "Mt. Holyoke in Hartford" to provide the first two years of an academically challenging curriculum to young women who could not afford to attend a four year residential college. Many students eventually completed four year degrees elsewhere.

Classes were originally held at the Hartford YWCA. In 1939 the college moved to a house on Scarborough Street. The Connecticut Legislature granted the College a charter to award the Associate in Arts degree in 1941. In 1959 the college moved from Scarborough Street to the former Seaverns estate on the corner of Elizabeth and Asylum Streets.

Originally the students were all commuters. Eventually, the college provided dormitories for out of town students. The college became part of the local 12 college consortium and the offices of the consortium were housed on the HCW campus. Professors from Smith in Northampton, MA and other four year colleges commuted to the HCW campus to teach HCW students the same courses the professors taught at their home colleges.

By the 1980s the cost of maintaining the college had increased astronomically. Moreover, most young women seeking single-sex education chose to enroll in four year programs such as those provided by St. Joseph’s in West Hartford or Smith and Mt. Holyoke in MA. With mixed emotions, the leadership of HCW agreed to affiliate with the University of Hartford in 1990. In May 2003, the undergraduate section was closed by the University and the students and faculty were assigned to other University of Hartford colleges.

Today the HCW campus serves as a branch of the University. HCW dormitories now provide housing for female students of the University. Now called The Asylum Street Campus, HCW provides programs for adult students as well as many offerings related to the particular needs of women.

The college had several names including Mt. Holyoke in Hartford, Hartford Junior College, Hartford College, and Hartford College for Women. The campus is now known as the Asylum Street Branch of the University of Hartford. This collection will be of spercial interest to researchers in the history of women's education in the twentieth century. When HCW merged with the University, the college already had an archive in place. Thus, the history of HCW has been well-documented.

The HCW community had a strong sense of tradition from its inception in 1933. A number of informal histories of the college have been written by members of the faculty and other staff members. These are included in the collection. Although Hartford College became a part of the University of Hartford in 1991, that same sense of tradition is carried on today by alumnae as well as former faculty, staff and administrators. In 2006 the University established the Women's Education and Leadership Fund (WELFUND) as a legacy of HCW. Read about HCW early years.

Of particular note are documents associated with the many notable individuals who served the college. Laura Johnson administered the college as dean from 1943-1958 and president from 1958-1976 and had an important influence on several generations of students. Oliver Butterworth, a much loved and long-time professor of English, was the author of The Enormous Egg and other children's books. Butterworth's wife, Miriam , served as interim president during the years 1979-1980. Truda Kaschmann taught classes in modern dance for many years. Muscian Paul Harvey taught music and choral performance.

Using the Collection

Contact the University Achivist at 860.768.4143 for more information about this collection.

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