Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/354

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350
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THREE DECADES OF COLLEGE WOMEN.
By FRANCES M. ABBOTT,

CONCORD, N. H.

THE following statements relate to the occupations, careers and matrimonial condition of the graduates of the first thirty classes of Vassar College, from 1867 to 1896, inclusive. The records of 1,302 women are included. The information is taken from the last general catalogue, which gives the history of all the classes to the end of the century; but the last four, 1897-1900, are not considered in this article.

The first question that everybody asks is, Do college women marry? The first ten classes, 1867-76, contain 323 members. Of this number 181, or 56.03 per cent., have married. The average age of a college woman at graduation is 22 years. Hence the age of these classes in 1900 averaged from 46 to 56 years—most of the members old enough to be grandmothers. It is quite possible that some of the living members may marry yet, for two instances were found in one class where marriage occurred 24 years after graduation; but making allowance for sporadic cases of this sort, 60 per cent, would probably include the complete marriage record of the graduates of this period.

These figures would seem to confirm the worst fears of those who, forty years ago, opposed the admission of women to college. It is difficult to make comparisons, because so many circumstances enter into the question of marriage. College women come from all sections of the country and from the most diverse social and pecuniary environment. The rate here given is undoubtedly less than that for the whole female population of the country, but perhaps not less than might be expected for a specialized and highly educated class.

The tendency of civilization seems to be toward comparatively late and few marriages. One can almost judge of the advancement of a people as a whole (the isolated villages of Miss Wilkins's stories are exceptional) by the number of single women. Females among savage races, as in the animal kingdom, are not allowed to remain unmated. It is an unusual thing in these days for a well-bred girl to marry under twenty. In our mothers' day such a course was eminently proper, and in our grandmothers' time girls married at fifteen or sixteen and afterwards bore that number of children.

As soon as a country becomes settled and its inhabitants used to material comforts and social privileges, the care and support of a family become a serious matter and early and hasty marriages are