1873 article Despite the success of Amos Eaton's demonstration with his 1835 "ladies' course," no further attempts to instruct women at Rensselaer occurred for the next century. However, the first woman to formally apply for admission, Elizabeth R. Buswell, did so in 1873.

According to an October 4, 1873 newspaper clipping in a scrapbook compiled by E. Ray Thompson, Director Charles Drown encouraged Miss Buswell to drop her application. He informed her that "the Institute makes no discrimination in regard to sex, but ... Miss Buswell's position as the only lady student would not be pleasant. If three or four other ladies were willing to join with her, it is probable they would be welcomed." Apparently Miss Buswell did not press the matter.

Charles Drown
The issue of women students was raised again in February of 19l9. Enrollment had dropped sharply due to the United States' active involvement in World War I. The problem prompted Trustee Alfred H. Renshaw to suggest to the Board that "women be allowed to attend the Institute" (Trustees minutes, Februrary 27, 1919). All others present agreed that "at the present time it is not advisable to allow the admission of women students."

Although Mr. Renshaw's proposal was defeated, twenty-five years later his solution to the problem of wartime depletion of available students would finally open the doors of Rensselaer to women.

 

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