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Women at Davidson

A guide to archival and special collections materials related to the history of women at Davidson College and in the Town of Davidson.


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Davidson College was technically an all-male institution. However, some women did attend classes at Davidson, many of whom were faculty daughters or young women from the Town of Davidson. At this time, Davidson did not issue degrees to women, so many women began their college careers at Davidson and transferred to local women's institutions, including Salem College and Queens University (then Queens College). 

In 1968, Davidson began taking the idea of coeducation more seriously, when President Samuel Spencer Jr. ‘40 appointed a special advisory committee to study the issue. The following winter, the faculty voted to participate in a college exchange program with Hollins, Mary Baldwin, Randolph-Macon, Sweet Briar, Agnes Scott, Winthrop, and others. In 1972, Davidson became officially coeducational and women were admitted as full degree-seeking candidates. Vicki Switzer ‘74 was the first woman to enroll and Marianna “Missy” Boaz Woodward ‘73 was the first woman ever accepted by Davidson as a full candidate for graduation. 

Marianna “Missy” Boaz Woodward ‘73

Marianna “Missy” Boaz Woodward ‘73

Digital and Digitized Publications

Listed below are select digital and digitized resources related to women and coeducation at Davidson. 

Archival Materials

Archival materials are the institutional records of Davidson College from its establishment in 1837 to the present day. Included within the collections are president's office records, academic department files, and student organization records. Listed below is a selection of relevant collections related to the history of coeducation. Collections are organized by record group, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

Planning and Institutional Research, Records, 1981-, (RG 2-5-1 and RG 2-5-3)

Description: The Office of Planning and Institutional Research oversees the gathering and reporting of data for reports to government agencies, publications, and other organizations and coordinates applied research intended to inform institutional planning, policy formulation, and decision making. This collection includes reports and data sets related to demographic information on campus, including male/female student ratios, LGBTQ student experiences and needs, and campus resources.

To access select digitized materials from this collection, click here.

Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). Commission on Coeducation, 1968-1969 (RG 3-1-2-015)

Description: The Commission on Coeducation was organized in 1969 to provide recommendations concerning coeducation at Davidson College to the faculty/Board of Trustees. The Commission recommended that Davidson become coeducational and that a 3:2 men to women ratio be the acceptable minimum. A variety of other recommendations related to coeducation were made at the same time, including the establishment of women's living facilities, etc. This collection includes minutes and the final report from the Commission on Coeducation. 

To access select digitized materials from this collection, click here. You must have a Davidson College account to access these materials. 

Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). Educational Policy Committee, 1967- (RG 3-1-2-027)

Description: The Educational Policy Committee was established to keep informed of developments in educational policy, to examine the effects of educational practice at Davidson, and to recommend where appropriate changes which might better serve Davidson's educational purposes. Included in these records are reports, questionnaires, and correspondence from the Subcommittee on Coeducation, 1972.

Browse Our Collections

Screenshot of catalog page

Our collections can be searched and browsed through this catalog.

This database includes finding aids for our institutional records and manuscript collections. Finding aids describe collections, how they were created, and how they can be accessed.

If have questions or would like to view our materials in-person, please email for assistance. 

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