SPEAKER: This is a production of Cornell University.
ELAINE ENGST: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm Elaine Engst. I'm the Director of the Division of Rare and Manuscript collections, which is where you are. I'm also Cornell's University Archivist. And so one of the things that Carol and I share is a passion for Cornell history in general, and Ezra Cornell in particular.
I'm really pleased that Carol agreed to do this talk today. I know that she did a version of it in January on Ezra's real birthday, which was January 11, but there weren't any students here then, and I wasn't here then. So this was-- I'm really glad that she has a chance to do it again.
Carol Kammen is a senior lecturer in the History Department. She teaches a wonderful class-- History 126. And one of the projects that the students do is a student scrapbook. They look at old scrapbooks, they discuss scrapbooks as a historical source, and they create their own.
We've been doing this since 1997. We have more than 200 scrapbooks, which are extraordinary documentation of the student experience. They are open for people to see. So we encourage people to come and look at them. We also encourage people to come and see the exhibit, to look at the online version of the exhibit, and to come and use other-- the Ezra Cornell papers, and associated collections.
Carol's also the Tompkins County historian, so she is well able to put Ezra in his local context. And I think that this particular talk is on Ezra's attitude toward Cornell, "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." What did Ezra mean by any person? What does that mean in the context of the 19th century, of 1865, 1868? Rhetoric, feelings, thoughts, politics. So without further adieu, Carol Kammen.
CAROL KAMMEN: I'm not going to do what Elaine said I was doing. Sorry-- sorry about that. I'm doing something-- something about life happens, but not quite.
What I want to do is link my comments to the exhibit out in the next room, which I do encourage you to visit because it really is a lovely exhibit focusing on Ezra Cornell, but also on-- there are five cases at the back that focus on the word "person" in the Cornell charter. So I'm going to link what I have to say to the word "person" in the charter, and try to figure out just what it meant to people in the 1860s.
Cornell's charter is a wonderful document. It is something that is too little regarded today, too little touted. The University could, indeed, do more with the fact that this charter is unique. It's path-breaking. It's what started out Cornell as an upstart, audacious, impudent, rash place. These are all words that were used about the university when it opened.
The charter called for nonsectarianism, which you all know about. It called for student election of their own course of study. It called for faculty innovation. Excuse me. A.D. White wrote in the charter that he didn't want faculty who just recited knowledge from books, but he wanted faculty to teach in a lively fashion. He wanted experts. He wasn't concerned about degrees, which were not all that common anyway in those days.
He expected that we would offer at Cornell empirical education based on a wonderful phrase called knowledge known, which means stuff in the library-- books. So knowledge known, but also knowledge expanded from the laboratory, from the field, from research, and from observation. So this was going to be a new kind of education.
The charter linked Cornell to the State of New York. It would educate students who had come through the New York State public school system, but it would also prepare teachers to go back into that school system. And that linkage is very important.
The charter called for teaching the branches of learning related to agriculture, to the mechanical arts, and including military tactics. Now, these are the things that the Morrill Land Grant Act specified. But then the charter says, it is to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in pursuits and professions in life while embracing other branches of science and knowledge as the trustees may deem useful. This is where everything else fits in.
Students would be admitted without regard to their rank. I don't know if you know this, but at Yale, if you were the son of the governor of Connecticut, you were automatically admitted to Yale by rank, by class, by previous occupation, or by locality. It was Andrew Dickson White who wrote in 1862, even before he knew Ezra Cornell, that his ideal university would be a place where the most high-- would be the place most highly prized instruction would be given to all students, regardless of sex and color.
It was Mr. Cornell who said in 1866 the motto, which we all know, "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." Maurice Bishop, who wrote a history of Cornell, thinks that Andrew Dickson White tinkered with that statement. I would say Andrew Dickson White wouldn't want any part of that statement, knowing how untrue it would be to teach any person, any subject. So I really do believe it was Mr. Cornell who did this.
Now, what I want to do is focus on the word "person." Person meant a student of any sex, or both sexes, and of any race. Of any rank, class, previous occupation, or locality. It almost sounds trite to us today to have to say this. But in those days it was unusual, unique and strange that Cornell would be open to this broad range of people. Most colleges in the eastern part of the United States in the 1860s educated males, and the faculty tended to like it that way.
Males from families with enough money to afford to educate a son, not because of what he would learn, but because of the contacts he would make, the position he would assume in society, and possibly even the fact that he might marry someone from his-- a sister of someone from his class. So it's the social context that was most important. And schools in the 1860s also were educating those people who needed to go or wanted to go into the clergy. So there were specific people for whom universities were opened, and that's not the way Cornell started.
Now, this is excepting one very important school in this country, and that is Oberlin, which opened in 1832 to people of both races, males and females. Males worked for a degree in Oberlin. Females sitting behind a curtain in classes, so that they wouldn't disturb the males, or be disturbed by them, worked for a certificate at first. But Oberlin really was the first university that opened up to a broad range of students.
The second school that opened up to a range of students is a school that only lasted for about 11 years, and it was located in McGraw, New York, in Cortland County. It was called The New York Central College. At first it was called The New York Free Central College, but people thought they didn't have to pay so they took the free out. The free related to the Free Baptists who had initiated the college. And it was open to both sexes, and to all races, and it did, indeed, educate a number of black students.
So it was an interesting institutional forebearer of Cornell, and it also was run on a manual labor program where students were able to earn their way through. In fact, they had to. I think the only person on the staff was an agriculturalist who directed the students in terms of running the school's garden.
So the question is, what did our founders mean by the word "person?" Regarding women, their ideas change over time, and I think that change is really very interesting. Mr. White, whose mother was an educated woman-- she had graduated from an academy, and she was a reader-- came from a family of readers. His grandfather had been one of those who founded the Cortland Academy. So his grandfather was engaged in education.
And White was also at the University of Michigan at the time when the State of Michigan was debating educating females. And that whole proposal was turned down while White was there. So White knew about the problem of educating women.
In 1857 he recommended-- excuse me-- that the appropriate education for women would be the mere flowing reading of abridgements. He thought that would be enough for women. And very proud of this, he wrote it into an article that was published by the New Englander, which was a literary journal published out of New Haven, and probably connected with Yale.
Very pleased with his article, he sent it off to the Reverend Samuel May of Syracuse. Now, May is one of those saintly figures. He was a domestic missionary of the Congregational Church. He came to Syracuse. He ran the Congregational Church. He was involved with all sorts of reform movements, including abolition and women's rights.
And White waited for May's response to his article, but he had to wait for about six months. And you can see young White anxious to get approval from this man he knew and revered. And when May finally wrote, he said, no. No.
"The training of women in all respects should be as thorough, as profound as that of men. The female, because she is entrusted with the education of the young, should have thorough knowledge. Any contempt for women," wrote May, "and any denial to them of the full participation with our sex-- men-- of the advantage of education cripples their powers of self-respect, and is the source of the diarist evils. If only one gender can be educated," said the Reverend Samuel May, "it should be women."
So poor Mr. White gets this response, which he wasn't expecting. But he listened. And from that time on, White talked about the people who would come to Cornell as male and female, and he always used the word scholars. He didn't want a boarding school atmosphere, but he wanted scholars to come here, male or female. So White's ideas about who should-- who these women he would educate changed over time.
Now, Ezra Cornell is a different story. Ezra Cornell, as a Quaker, believed in the inner beauty and sanctity of each individual, and how we can all grow. And he recognized that possibilities for women were relatively limited. So Mr. Cornell is looking for a way to help women improve their status.
He also, when he had been running telegraph companies, had hired women, and believed in their ability and their diligence, the fact that they showed up on time. He also believed in their nimble fingers-- small motor skills. And he probably appreciated the fact that they would take a lower salary. So we have Mr. Cornell who is interested in education, but hasn't really formulated it very well.
On the other hand, in 1867 Cornell writes to his daughter Eunice, and by this time, Cornell University is getting-- is under way. And he states that he wants "you and your brothers and your cousins to go to school when they grow up, to learn many things that will be useful"-- and the word "useful" is very important whenever you talk about Mr. Cornell and education-- "to make them wise and good men and women." He wanted girls to be educated in the university, as well as boys, and he sent his daughters off to Vassar before women came to Cornell.
But the question is, what kind of education did Mr. Cornell really have in mind for women? He wanted women to have more than was available. And he wrote to Henry Wells, who was a friend of his, and said, Henry, you've been talking about starting an academy in honor of your mother, who was a good and blessed woman. Why don't you start your academy at our Cornell University?
And Henry Wells's response is really very interesting. He says, he aimed at a school to educate women as wives and mothers. He wanted American girls to fulfill the duties and position that a kind Providence had assigned the better half. Now, all of you women in the room know that the minute somebody says you're the better half, you're going to get the worst part of it. Because he follows that by saying, "without them going to the polls or entering the arena of politics." So Mr. Wells founded his college in Aurora.
Mr. Cornell talked about appropriate industry for women. He was very interested in women who came to this new university to be able to go out with a skill so that they could earn their own living. And he thought perhaps if women could spend three to four hours a day in some kind of a [? manufactory, ?] which would have been down on Library Slope overseen by Mrs. Cornell, that they would leave here with a useful skill.
So-- and this is parallel to what he was suggesting for men, which was a manufacturing in the middle of the arts college, which would produce shoes. And between classes, young men could come out and work in the shoe factory learning a useful skill and then go back to class. So Mr. Cornell's interest is in usefulness, industry, in finding a way of giving skills to people who didn't have them.
Now, there's another person involved in the formation of the word "person" when it has to do with women, and that's Henry Sage. Mr. Sage ended up giving about $250,000-- somewhat more than that probably-- to the University, and Henry Sage was a very interesting man.
He was orphaned-- or his father died when he was young. He had two sisters. And Henry Sage, from a very young age, knew he had to provide for the family in some way. He also saw, as he got older, that his sisters, without his provision for them-- because Henry Sage made a lot of money-- without his provision for them would be sort of up a creek. There was no way for them to actually earn a living.
So Mr. Sage probably was interested in industry for women. He probably was interested in something that reflected Mr. Wells's idea about a proper education for women. We don't quite know how much the scholar part was in Mr. Sage's idea.
Sage finally gave the university $250,000 that instruction shall be offered to young women by the Cornell University as broad and as thorough as that now offered to young men. So he came around to the idea that women needed to have a proper education.
So persons. The founders invited them-- those persons-- but they were a bit nervous that no one would come. After all, Ithaca was not on the beaten path. And they placed an ad in the Herald Tribune inviting people to come.
Now, they really shouldn't have been all that worried, because the minute Cornell University was announced, letters began coming in, and people began testing. Is this a place where poor boys really can go to school? Is this a place where person really means me? And those letters are very revealing.
Very soon after the announcement was in the paper, there were questions to Cornell, could a boy come to Cornell University expecting to pay for his room and board by labor? So the laboring part of the university was being questioned. Have you a position in your university where a man, who is minus his right arm-- the left was left on the battlefield at Cold Harbor-- but I'm handy with my left hand. Can I get an education at Cornell, too? And what faculties might there be for a married man? Could I, too, come to Cornell? So people were testing the idea of person right from the start.
Ezra Cornell thought that people should come and feel welcomed here, regardless of their status. Willard Fiske writing to Andrew Dickson White said, almost every day, some skilled blacksmith, tanner, or brewer calls on me, desirous of entering the university. One brawny fellow intends to exchange the forge for the pulpit, and he thinks maybe he could come here and get enough education to do so.
Ezra Cornell began wondering about all of this. But he believed that the university would be open enough for anyone to come. Andrew Dickson White is a little less eager to have all these laboring students coming, because White believe quite firmly that going to school was a full-time job. So there is something of a difference between their two attitudes.
Other letters that came in are interesting. A man wrote to say, I desire special information whether professorships of pure and applied mathematics and natural sciences have been filled. Can I have a job? Another man wrote to say-- and this should please the library-- that because White had bought a large library collection, a man from the Smithsonian said, I'd really like to come and use that collection. Could I come as an instructor, or a librarian, or I'll come to be both.
Another man wrote to say that he heard there was a vacancy in the mathematical department and physics and astronomy. He could teach all of these things, and he would teach one of them or all of them. He was making application. A man wanted to come to teach phonography, which is the study of phonics. He thought Cornell should certainly have phonography if we were going to teach everything to everyone.
And a man who was a doctor in Four Corners, New York-- Chatham, Four Corners-- wrote to say, he had long wished to give up his medical practice and couldn't he come and teach natural science at Cornell. So the letters coming in were not only from students, but from a variety of people who had never taught, but who thought maybe teaching was a good idea for them.
Then there were some letters that came from abroad. One from a man in England saying, could an Englishman, a man born in England, come to this new university? In the first 20 years of the University, there were over 125 foreigners who came and graduated. There were a lot-- others who came and studied here for a while.
Mr. Cornell wrote in his diary in 1870 that among the students, there were some from the Sandwich Islands-- Hawaii-- from Servia, which is Serbia, from Texas-- which he didn't consider quite American-- from East Tennessee-- I'm not sure what was wrong with East Tennessee-- from Sweden, Hungary, and there was a student from Japan. He was very pleased with the idea that the university was attracting people. And Mr. Cornell made the statement that he thought it became a university because there was such a cosmopolitan student body. So that was important to him.
Other questions came in the mail. A man from Bermuda wrote, could a slightly colored boy come? He aspires to be in the professions, and maybe he could learn a profession at your university. And a man from Ohio wrote to say, could a bright, colored lad who was studying at Oberlin come to the University-- come to Cornell University?
Mr. Cornell's response is on that letter. It's in the exhibit. I urge you to go read it, because the response said, "send him."
And then the response says, "don't send a--" and the only word of Mr Cornell's I have never been able to understand is this next word, I don't know what it is, but then he says, "send him." So I think he's saying don't send someone who's not a good student, but send this young man. His color would not be any bar. Cornell graduated its first African-American students 1889 and 1890. There was no bar to students of color, whatsoever.
No one asked about Jewish students, can a Jewish student come. Although there was prejudice at some schools about enrolling Jewish students. We do know that in 1874, Mr. Cornell and Mr. White had to go to Albany to answer a number of questions from the legislature about the formation of the university, and especially about its finances.
And they were there for about a week, and there was a little book published of all of the testimony. A lot of it doesn't make a lot of sense because it's erratically put in this book. But there is one segment I'd like to just read to you and it won't take me too long. But Mr. White is being questioned by a senator, and listen to the tone of what's going on.
The senator said, "You have been given money to have ministers in the chapel. Is that right?" And Mr. White says, "Yes." White said, "The gentleman offering the endowment agree that eminent clergymen might be selected from various denominations to preach from time to time." And the senator says, "Let me understand what you mean by various. Do you mean from all denominations?" And White says, "From all denominations."
And the senator, obviously getting a little worried here, said, "From all religious denominations?" And White said, "From all religious denominations." The senator said, "Each man to be at liberty to conduct the services according to his own method?" And White said, "Yes." Now, White is a man with a lot of words, but in this case he's keeping his answers very brief.
The senator said, "would that include, I suppose, Jews, as well as Christians?" And White said, "That would certainly be in accordance with the spirit of our charter. We have several Jewish students in our institution, and among them, some of our best students. And I would never sanction anything which would infringe on their privileges, deprive them of their rights, or tend to degrade them in any manner." Person meant Jews, also.
So what about women? Mr. White and Mr. Cornell got a lot of advice from a lot of people. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to say women should come to Cornell. And if you remember in 1848, Stanton had said-- at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention-- "that he"-- meaning men-- "has denied her all facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being barred against her.
Ezra Cornell, on the other hand, said, "In some year, I hope to see 1,000 women at the University." So he's responding a very interesting way. Some people worried about the effects of higher education on women, especially coeducation, which was a very new term in those days.
And in 1872, Dr. Edward Clark of the Harvard Medical School wrote a book called Sex in Education-- does not mean what you think. It means gender in this case. And he was concerned that if women studied at a coeducational institution as hard as men should be studying, or did study-- I don't know-- all a woman's blood would rush to her head.
Now, the consequence of that, according to Dr. Clark, is that with her blood in her head, her uterus would shrink. And therefore, said Dr. Clark and his advocates, "we would end up stopping the population," to be a very bad thing.
Would women at a coeducational institution become masculinized? Very worried that women would become too unlike the kind of woman that was the ideal for the 19th Century. Still, are others worried about the effects on men if women were to come to the university and women did better than they did? What, psychologically-- my word, not their word-- what psychologically would that do to men if women were doing better?
Catharine Beecher, who was a fan of education for women, was not a fan of coeducation. She worried about the effects of spooning. She said, "Coeducation would be like bringing gunpowder and burning coals together," and she was not in favor of it.
But others-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Jocelyn Gage, Lyman Fowler, the phrenologist, and Maria Mitchell, the astronomer-- all said, this is the right thing to do. It's the right time to do it. And Mitchell said, if you don't do it soon, Harvard will do it before you do. She was not right.
Listen, also, to what the women had to say. Two women from Sherwood who were probably teaching in the Quaker school in Sherwood wrote to Ezra Cornell. They were "gratified to know that your institution, so noble and possessing advantages so great, is open to women. We wish to enter." And then writing to Andrew Dickson White, a woman said, "If you were a woman and had been as disgusted, mortified, and exasperated as I have been by the talk of educated men about our capacity, or our incapacity, I might be able to make you understand the satisfaction, gratitude, and delight with which I read your report on coeducation. Please send me another copy."
Then in 1872 there's a very interesting letter to Andrew Dickson White from a man by the name of Mr. William Lad of Cambridge, Massachusetts, actually. He wrote to thank White for the fact that White had received his daughter's letter of application, and that White had written back and had encouraged his daughter to come to Cornell.
In contrast-- and this is in quotes-- "to the insulting coolness with which Elliott"-- the president of Harvard-- "treated her application." Mary Holman Lad graduated in 1875 with an AB, and in 1878, with a Master's degree. At Cornell, the only bar to education or to getting an education here was the willingness to work for your education, and the desire to pursue academic excellence.
At a time when African-Americans were denied entry in most other schools, when women's opportunities were severely limited, Colombia debated for about eight years whether it would be possible to open Barnard College, keep the women separate, but let them sort of be in the same general vicinity of New York as Colombia men, Harvard finally created the Radcliffe Annex. Brown created Pembroke. It wasn't until 100 years after Cornell admitted women as scholars, that Princeton, Yale, and all the rest of the schools, bowing to massive social change and Federal legislation, which linked getting Federal moneys to openness, did most of these other schools open their doors to women.
At Cornell, person has always meant for Mr. Cornell, those poor boys who didn't have a chance to go elsewhere, foreign students, state scholars, people of all economic backgrounds, those of all races and genders. And the first four year class at Cornell, known to many people as that godless university, 13 of the graduating members became ministers. So it wasn't as bad as they all feared it was going to be. This is a legacy of which we should all be aware and very proud.
ELAINE ENGST: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: What is the history of how Cornell, I'm sure necessarily, had to keep becoming more exclusive from an academic ability standpoint? And in the beginning, how was it initially founded, in terms of who was let in from that standpoint?
CAROL KAMMEN: The surprising thing to White and Cornell was the fact that so many people came. So they instituted an exam, and the examination is about 12 or 15 pamphlet, and they were examined in English grammar-- and English grammar questions I can't possibly fathom. They were asked questions about geography, mathematics, all sorts of things. And they had to pass the exam. They were terribly worried that they would end up being a remedial school. And that's what they kept saying, we're not a remedial institution.
Then in about the 19-teens, Cornell joined with other schools in the East to begin giving examinations to people in various places. You didn't have to come to the university to take it.
AUDIENCE: So were some denied from the very beginning?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah.
ELAINE ENGST: But it was exclusively American. So [INAUDIBLE] your score on this exam. It's really in the 1920s that they start using other factors, other than straight examination scores. And that's when you really start having a tremendous influx of people wanting admittance, much more than in this earlier period.
And people from large cities, largely children of immigrants. And so you start-- Cornell doesn't have quotas, but they do have interviews. They do have recommendations. They are starting to look at other aspects, the whole person. And that could be interpreted in a whole lot of different ways. So it's-- but that's really the 1920s.
CAROL KAMMEN: The other thing Cornell did, the University did, in agreement with the state, was to open up one slot for free tuition from each district-- legislative district in the state. Which meant that we were giving free tuition to one student from around the state-- I think there was 63 of them around the state, and that was highly competitive, and so you got very good students flowing into the university.
The influx of people really-- or the pressure on Cornell comes after 1900 when you have more middle class families who are interested in educating their children, and that's when you begin to have more females-- many more females applying. Yeah. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I really liked your reading of the letters, and the amount that you squeezed out of them. I wonder if the letters show how the word spread. You just now mentioned it's not till after 1900 that you have this middle class demand. Well, if the demand was less, the university was new and using these radical ideas, can you tell from the letters how people found out about it, and what image they had of it?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yes and no. Mostly we have people who arrive. So in the first class in 1868, there were two students who came from Wesleyan and Ohio. They had heard about Cornell, they were juniors. They came here-- yeah, they were juniors. They came here to finish their college degree here.
So the word spread very quickly. And there was a crush. There are quite-- nobody expected so many people to show up. And finally Willard Fiske writes to A.D. White to say, we're going to have 100 more people than we can possibly deal with. The classrooms won't hold this many people. And they were very worried about having too many.
Now, that doesn't mean you had a steady rise. There is a little dip after the University opens when the enrollment goes down a little bit. But it fluctuates within 100 students from the start. Starts with 425 approximately, and it rises from there. Never goes below that.
ELAINE ENGST: They did have a circular that they sent out, sort of the equivalent of our course catalog, and they published that every year. There actually are a couple of examples in the exhibit.
CAROL KAMMEN: But you had to write for it.
ELAINE ENGST: You had to write for it.
CAROL KAMMEN: So we know that people were writing from far and abroad. The students in the first class, we had a couple from the South, two from Georgia the very first year. We had two from England-- two brothers from England came the middle semester of the first year. There were-- just a number of people came.
I think what its response to is the fact that most people regarded education as something only available to ministerial students or rich students. And this was a university that promoted itself as making a way for poorer students-- economically poorer students. They could actually work their way through. And those students were called laboring students. And there were a couple who worked their way through.
But that whole system of manual labor falls totally out as soon as Ezra Cornell dies in 1874. And then you had scholarships for students, and you have the university giving extra money to students in order to get them through, or waiving tuition. There are a lot of letters saying, I can't pay my tuition, and the tuition will get waived for that student. But the laboring part falls off in '74.
I think there was-- oh, and the other reason people knew about it is because the Morrill Grant Act of 1862 was widely publicized. And education was opening up, especially in the Midwest. So people were talking about educational opportunities.
And this was a new kind of education. This was unavailable elsewhere, like Yale. Yes.
AUDIENCE: I have two questions. The first one's just a little one. Is that early test that you spoke of, is that available online?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah. I give it to my students. They can't pass it. In fact, they're humiliated by it. I give them the geography questions. And one of the questions goes like this. Name all the countries you will pass through if you go from the Suez to the Bering Straight. And we don't learn that way. You know, we don't have that kind of education anymore. But the questions were very specific, and they were hard.
ELAINE ENGST: We have the questions on the website, but we don't have the answers.
CAROL KAMMEN: We don't know the answers to some of them.
AUDIENCE: The second question is, did Cornell, at any point, have different academic standards for women, for men, for different--
CAROL KAMMEN: No. And every academic opportunity was open to every student. There was never any discrimination in any way. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Curious about the use of the word for the name, university versus college. That was from the beginning, wasn't it?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yes.
AUDIENCE: And were there other institutions of higher education using that at that point?
CAROL KAMMEN: University of Pennsylvania. And the universities opening up in the Midwest were universities. But Cornell was a university in a land of colleges. Harvard College, Yale College-- they were all colleges.
And to be a university, Cornell is tremendously important in the development of what we know today as a modern research university. So was MIT. So was the University of Chicago, Hopkins, University of California at Berkeley. These are the schools that really opened up what education was all about. Did I answer your question?
AUDIENCE: Yeah. I guess [INAUDIBLE]. Why did he choose that, I wonder, at that point?
CAROL KAMMEN: Oh, Andrew Dickson White did, I'm sure. Andrew Dickson White did not want a college. He did not want a seminary. He wanted a university experience. And White was very well educated himself, probably one of the best educated men in the country. He'd been to Hobart for a year. He'd been to Yale. He had traveled and studied in Europe.
He wanted a research university where the known knowledge-- the library-- was the basis for the education. But that everyone would be teaching from his own research, so that it was a constant pushing at the academic borders. And that's what went on. And he knew that couldn't happen at a college. He didn't want a small scale thing.
And the interesting thing is that Cornell starts out as a full-blown university.
AUDIENCE: Did the Morrill Land Grant specify university? How do you know that?
CAROL KAMMEN: I don't remember.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] all of the Midwestern schools were [INAUDIBLE] universities.
AUDIENCE: No. Michigan was Michigan Agricultural College I'm pretty sure.
CAROL KAMMEN: But it's not a Morrill Land Grant college.
AUDIENCE: But Michigan State is.
CAROL KAMMEN: Michigan State is.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, but when it became Michigan State.
AUDIENCE: But he came from University of Michigan, right?
CAROL KAMMEN: He had taught at the University of Michigan, yeah.
ELAINE ENGST: But that's not the Land Grant. But Michigan State is [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: Michigan State is Land Grant--
AUDIENCE: Is the Land Grant.
AUDIENCE: And that was Michigan Agricultural College to start with.
ELAINE ENGST: Yeah, that's true.
CAROL KAMMEN: But the University of Michigan is earlier. And that began as a State school. So university--
ELAINE ENGST: You're right. The Morrill Land Grant couldn't. It was all the [? A&Ms ?] or [INAUDIBLE]. OK. I don't know when [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah, I don't remember what it says. That's interesting. I will look it up, because it's in the Morrill Land Grant Act. And I would bet it says university, but I can't remember.
AUDIENCE: Did-- the 13 people who went on to become clergy, what was their course of study here? There wasn't any religion, was there taught here?
CAROL KAMMEN: Uh-uh.
AUDIENCE: So they just got a regular AB and then they went out into a seminary?
CAROL KAMMEN: No. They probably didn't go to seminary. Most of them went out into those denominations that wanted an educated clergy. So they studied classics, they studied Hebrew, and philosophy, and then they went into the educated clergy-- Presbyterians congregational, Episcopalian, yeah. And so it was interesting that so many of them ended up doing that.
The class was, I think, 78-- the first graduating class. And 13 of them became ministers.
AUDIENCE: It's also quite extraordinary how many of the women who graduate have some-- at least some professional career, even if they get married. That there are very few that are just getting married. That a lot of them are teaching. If you look at the memorial to Henry Sage in the 1890s where they really talk about what the women do, a surprising number of them actually doing quite extraordinary things.
CAROL KAMMEN: Well, I think they were an extraordinary group of women, also. You had women who were not satisfied going to Vassar, which is not to say anything against Vassar. But you had women who said, I don't want a college education. I want a university education. And they came here because it was the only place open for them at that time.
And a lot of them then wanted graduate school. And there were-- [? M. Kerry ?] Thomas, for example, wanted to go to graduate school and couldn't go to Hopkins, which is what she thought she would do. And they ended up going to Europe.
Cornell graduated its first PhD female in 1880. Her dissertation is upstairs on the shelf, is handwritten, it's 18 pages long. Yes.
AUDIENCE: [? Bring ?] it [? fast. ?]
CAROL KAMMEN: Not the handwritten part. Yeah. But I think you have an extraordinary group of women. Because what they're doing is they're not going to a safe, comfortable place. They are opting to come here.
It is a controversial university. People were sure everybody here was the hand person of the devil. They were just-- hand servant of the devil. They were sure it was a dangerous thing to do. And they were pinning themselves into real academic courses. I mean, it was not spoon fed at all. This was I think a tough place. And you hear that in the women when they're writing about it.
On the other hand, you also hear that they go to the library and bring home a stack of books to read that are not course related. So it's a different kind of education then. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: How about the number of majors? How soon did that expand from liberal arts?
CAROL KAMMEN: Well, we started with one faculty, and in that faculty you could be in agriculture, you could be in three different types of engineering, you could be in classics. And all of that then expands. And the idea of major is really something that happens after about 1904, when the University reorganizes itself.
Until then, most people went through in those basic four streams. Then there was something called optional, which meant you didn't know what you wanted. You could take a whole batch of things. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: What were the engineering streams?
CAROL KAMMEN: Electrical, mechanical and civil. Yeah. Yeah, David.
AUDIENCE: I was curious about your doctorate who seemed to be putting up a competition between blood for the brain and blood for the uterus. Was that fairly common? I mean, was that his own particular [INAUDIBLE] interpretation [INAUDIBLE]?
CAROL KAMMEN: There were other people who said that if women studied in the same classroom with men-- [? it's ?] calculus-- in the same classroom with men, it is likely that women whose hearts are big enough to love, but whose brains couldn't stand it, would-- their brains would explode. And the comment was, wouldn't that be terrible for the young men?
There were a lot of people who saw no use for education for women. And indeed, the social norm for women in the 19th Century really didn't give them much scope, because their education had been restricted, and society really restricted what women could do.
Women were expected to grow up and marry and be mothers of men. And indeed, you have-- obviously they had women, too, and females, too. But something like the stages of a woman's life that Currier and Ives put out in 1849, it says that she will be the mother to her boys. You sort of wonder how the girls are going to raise themself, but she's raising the boys.
And that was the common theme that she would raise good, Christian, American young men. And little girls just raised themselves, as far as anybody was concerned. Obviously, they didn't.
ELAINE ENGST: One of the things that White and Henry Sage do in the report that was referenced is they disprove that. They go to Michigan. They go to Oberlin. They actually take a field trip and see how coeducation is really [INAUDIBLE], and they say, obviously this is all nonsense.
CAROL KAMMEN: Well, the worry was that if you educated women with men, they couldn't stand the pressure. And when White and Sage were at Oberlin they said, these women are perfectly healthy. And what Clark-- the doctor-- wasn't looking at was there were a number of men who were leaving universities or colleges because they couldn't take the work, or they didn't like it. But men left for as many reasons as Clark had, except for the uterus part, which, of course, they didn't do.
Thank you all for coming. It's been lots of fun.
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Historian and senior lecturer Carol Kammen illustrates the significance of the word "person" in the Cornell charter and its motto: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." This radical idea came at a time, in the mid-19th century, when higher education in the United States meant colleges that educated men.