In 1886, Josephine Louise Newcomb donated funds to Tulane University for the founding of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College. Her contribution created the nation’s first degree-granting coordinate college for women. For more than a century, Newcomb College educated thousands of young women in the liberal arts and sciences, preparing them for positions in the civic and economic world of New Orleans and the South.
Newcomb College, 1886–2006 explores the rich history and tradition of the college through a diverse and multidisciplinary collection of essays. Early chapters focus on the life of Josephine Louise Newcomb and her desire to memorialize her daughter Sophie, as well as the development of student culture in the Progressive Era. Several essays explore the staples of a Newcomb education, from its acclaimed pottery and junior year abroad programs to lesser-known but trailblazing work in physical education and chemistry. Concluding biographical and autobiographical chapters recount the lives of distinguished alumnae and the personal memories of Newcomb’s influence on New Orleans. The essays offer insight into the work of artists Caroline Wogan Durieux and Ida Kohlmeyer, education reformer Sarah Towles Reed, U.S. representative Lindy Boggs, and other Newcomb leaders in various fields. Throughout the book, contributors reflect on the curriculum, pedagogy, and alliances that created paths for students, not only for advanced studies, but also for their roles as friends, wives, mothers, reformers, and professionals.
Touching on three centuries, the book concludes in 2006 when Tulane University closed Newcomb College and Paul Tulane College, the arts and sciences college for men, and united the two as Newcomb-Tulane College. This absorbing collection offers both a scholarly history and an affectionate tribute to a Newcomb education.
Susan Tucker is Curator of Books and Records for the Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Library at Tulane University. She is the author of Telling Memories among Southern Women and other works on material and archival cultures.
Beth Willinger, a sociologist and feminist scholar, is former executive director of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, and founding director of the women’s studies program at Tulane University. She served a term as interim dean of Newcomb College.
Praise for Newcomb College, 1886-2006
“An exciting new history of the first 120 years of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College. . . . Tucker and Willinger have succeeded in making this book much more than an institutional history.”—Journal of Southern History
“The book . . . serves the goal of scholarship as well as being a tribute to an institution that apparently inspired deep loyalty and vivid memories among the generations of women who went there.”—Louisiana History
“Tucker and Willinger highlight Newcomb College’s distinctive history from its founding in 1886 through its absorption into Newcomb-Tulane College in 2006. Their story is more than the chronicle of a single institution. Newcomb’s characters and narratives intermingle with those of Tulane University, the city of New Orleans, and southern women. Its alumnae were not only cultured southern ladies, but competent family members, business persons, and civic leaders.”—Amy Thompson McCandless, author of The Past in the Present: Women's Higher Education in the Twentieth-Century American South
“This book refracts and focuses the issues of women’s higher education at a level beyond local considerations in New Orleans. May it be required reading for all who have to shape the fortunes of the new Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University.”—Gillian Sutherland, author of Faith, Duty, and the Power of Mind: The Cloughs and their Circle, 1820–1960
“[These] carefully researched essays and lively oral histories celebrate Newcomb College’s distinctive history. It is a valuable contribution to be savored by alumnae, friends of the college, and those interested in the history of New Orleans, higher education, and women’s lives.”—Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, author of Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s