Beginnings of Newcomb Memorial College

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Envelope of letter from Paul Tulane to King

Photo Credit: Tulane University's Louisiana Research Collection (LARC), Rosemond and William Kuntz Collection, 049.001.001, Box 1, Folder 1

Contributors

In the South during the late nineteenth century the Progressive party was gaining much attention. The Progressive party was a mainly middle class white party, with a majority of women leaders. The Progressive party focused on issues such as women’s suffrage, prohibition, social reform, sanitation, improving public schools, better working conditions and expanding public health. The progressive movement was particularly focused in the South and many of the leaders of the movement were from southern states. [1]

During this time Josephine Louise Newcomb, founder of Newcomb Memorial College, wished to further female education in Louisiana. Many women’s universities were thriving in the Northeast and the South lacked these new strides towards better educating young women. Newcomb had spent part of her childhood in the southern state and felt a particular tie to New Orleans and the people there. Newcomb used the majority of her funds to donate to Tulane University asking them to open a college for young women. Newcomb exchanged many letters back and forth with Paul Tulane, founder of Tulane University. The letters discussed her interest in educating young women in the South and her fondness of Tulane University. [2]

Specifically Josephine Newcomb was influenced by Ida Richardson, a big face in the Progressive movement. [3] Because of this influence, Newcomb College for Young Women held many principles which the Progressive party held. Newcomb Memorial College serves as an example of institutions that came out of this progressive movement in the South, especially pertaining women. Newcomb Memorial College was extremely successful and set precedence for other women’s schools in the South at the time. [4]

Founding of Newcomb School for Young Women

Newcomb College for young women was founded in 1886 by Josephine Louise Newcomb. The college was founded in honor of Newcomb’s daughter, who died in 1870. The college doors opened in October 1887. Originally the school was made up of day students, and ultimately the school gained more recognition as it moved uptown to Broadway where the school lies today. Newcomb’s goal was to provide a liberal academic education for young white women. The college was founded off of the initial $100,000 donation which she made and was followed by many more donations. These funds guaranteed that the school was the most stable women’s college in the South at the time. Even with big strides being made by the Progressive movement, Louisiana was still very conservative. For example, while New Orleans allowed for the Newcomb School for young women to be founded, many were still hesitant. Guidelines were set by the city for ensure that the creation of this institute for women, would not hinder the education of the young men at Tulane. [5]

Josephine Newcomb admired Paul Tulane, naming him one of the most intelligent men she knew. As a result Newcomb trusted Tulane with her funds and any important decisions that needed to be made in the creation of the Newcomb College for young women. Josephine Newcomb wished for the school to follow basic Christian principles and for a chapel to be available for daily prayer. Newcomb wanted the focus of the school to be literary excellence and the practical aspect of life. [6] These were her few guidelines for the founding of the school. However she wrote in letters to Paul Tulane that he had authoritative power of the school did not wish to restrict him in anyway with these guidelines.

[7]

Josephine Louise Newcomb: Early Life

Josephine Louise Newcomb was born in Maryland in 1816. Newcomb grew up educated mostly in Europe. She was the daughter of a wealthy business man. After the death of her mother, she moved to Louisiana with her father and sister. Shortly thereafter Josephine Louise married Warren Newcomb, a wealthy grocer. The Newcombs moved around from Louisiana to Kentucky to New York. After the death of both her husband and her daughter, Josephine Louise Newcomb focused her attention on philanthropy. [8] Newcomb donated money to orphan homes, Washington and Lee and many other institutions. Ultimately, while living in New York City, Newcomb was persuaded to start a college for young women of her own in New Orleans. The Newcomb College for Young Women was officially establish in 1887. It was the nations first self-sustaining women’s college connected to a men’s college. This college being Tulane University, founded in the name of Paul Tulane. [9]

Beginning of Newcomb

The first president of the college was Brandt V.B. Dixon. He was recruited by the board of Tulane University. Dixon faced many difficult issues with Newcomb because of how new it was at the time. The biggest issue the college faced was the inadequacy of the new students. While Dixon did establish the certain guidelines and requirements that were needed to attend the college, students were still lacking education. Newcomb College for a short time, was seen as a “finishing school” where girls as young as fifteen were attending. Ultimately Dixon proposed a program in 1888 that was very successful. It was a preparatory program which was for girls that weren’t quite ready for college-level education. This program allowed for the college to maintain a rigorous academic plan without rejecting people from the community. Ultimately Dixon resigned as president in 1919 after achieving many great things for the women’s college, leaving it’s reputation in very high standings with the public. [10]

Works Cited

  • Link, Arthur S. “THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN THE SOUTH, 1870-1914.” The North Carolina Historical Review 23, no. 2 (April 01, 1946): 172-95. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/23515038?ref=no-x-route:3e2dba7dc3399a64defd3aba4f2ec35a.
  • Mohr, Clarence L. “Coming Together (And Falling Apart): Tulane University and H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in the Postwar Decades.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 41, no. 1 (July 01, 1987). Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/4232593?ref=no-x-route:5ae0f3ff3ba97dffec0cac74b5ea0e05.>
  • “Josephine Louise Le Monnier Newcomb”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/412891/Josephine-Louise-Le-Monnier-Newcomb
  • Georgen Coyle and Susan Tucker, “Newcomb: A Brief History of the College”, Tulane University, accessed 17 Jan 2009 https://tulane.edu/newcomb/newcomb-college-history.cfm
  • Georgen Coyle and Susan Tucker, “Newcomb: A Brief History of the College”, Tulane University, accessed 27 Feb 2015 https://tulane.edu/newcomb/newcomb-college-history.cfm
  • Dixon, Brandt Van Blarcom. A Brief History of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, 1887-1919: A Personal Reminiscence. New Orleans: Hauser Print., 1928.
  • Georgen Coyle and Susan Tucker, “Newcomb: A Brief History of the College”, Tulane University, accessed 27 Feb 2015 https://tulane.edu/newcomb/newcomb-college-history.cfm
  • “Josephine Louise Le Monnier Newcomb”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/412891/Josephine-Louise-Le-Monnier-Newcomb
  • “Josephine Louise Le Monnier Newcomb”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/412891/Josephine-Louise-Le-Monnier-Newcomb
  • Georgen Coyle and Susan Tucker, “Newcomb: A Brief History of the College”, Tulane University, accessed 27 Feb 2015 https://tulane.edu/newcomb/newcomb-college-history.cfm

This page was last modified on 20 April 2015, at 12:00

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