The History of Sarah Lawrence College

Below is a timeline of important events throughout the history of Sarah Lawrence College. Compiled by Abby Lester, July 2007.

Click on the photos to view a larger version.

Jump to: 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s


1924

  • William Van Duzer Lawrence, ca. 1925. Photographer unknown. William Van Duzer Lawrence approaches Henry Noble MacCracken, President of Vassar College, regarding the founding of a junior college for women in honor of his wife, Sarah Bates Lawrence. William Van Duzer Lawrence, ca. 1925. Photographer unknown.

1926

  • William Van Duzer Lawrence writes the Letter of Instruction regarding the founding of the College.

  • Marion Coats, ca. 1929. Photograph by Mrs. W. Burden Stage.Marion Coats, Principal of Bradford Academy, is hired as President-Designate of Sarah Lawrence College for Women. She begins her term as the first President (1926-1929). Marion Coats, ca. 1929. Photograph by Mrs. W. Burden Stage.
  • Sarah Bates LawrenceMay 7 - Sarah Bates Lawrence dies. Portrait of Sarah Bates Lawrence by Violet Oakley, 1910.
  • December - Provisional charter granted to incorporate Sarah Lawrence College for Women.


1927

  • May 16 - William Van Duzer Lawrence dies.

  • May 25 - Affiliation with Vassar College Ratified.

  • June 1 - By-Laws adopted by the Board of Trustees.

  • Official College Seal designed by Violet Oakley June - Seal of the College adopted. Designed by Violet Oakley, the seal includes the motto “Wisdom with Understanding.” Official College Seal designed by Violet Oakley.

1928

  • Bates Hall, ca. 1938. Photographer unknown.June - Bates Hall (originally called Tower Hall) completed. Bates Hall, ca. 1938. Photographer unknown.
  • Beatrice Doerschuk begins term as Director of Education (1928-1946).

  • Aerial view of Titsworth and Dudley Lawrence dormitories, ca. 1930. Photographer unknown.October - First three dormitories (now known as the “Old Dorms”) are completed. Aerial view of Titsworth and Dudley Lawrence dormitories, ca. 1930. Photographer unknown.
  • October - The College welcomes its first students.


1929

  • Perkin's House (9 Mead Way) purchased.

  • Excerpt from the 1929 yearbook.June - First commencement with one graduate, Ruth Wilmot '29. Excerpt from the 1929 yearbook.
  • Wayside Cottage (7 Mead Way), later named Warren House, purchased. Served as the President’s House from 1929 to 1947.

  • Constance Warren, 1941. Photograph by Irene Drew-Oggiano.Constance Warren begins term as second President (1929-1945). Constance Warren, 1941. Photograph by Irene Drew-Oggiano.

1930

  • June - First graduating class (117) receives the diploma.

  • MacCracken Hall, ca. 1935. Photographer unknown.November - MacCracken Hall completed. MacCracken Hall, ca. 1935. Photographer unknown.

1931

  • September 10 - Absolute charter to grant B.A. degree awarded.


1932

  • Henry Noble MacCracken, Board of Trustees, 1926-1936.Affiliation with Vassar College terminated with proviso that the President of Vassar College remain an ex-officio member of the Sarah Lawrence College Board of Trustees. Henry Noble MacCracken, Board of Trustees, 1926-1936.

1933

  • June - First Bachelor of Arts degree awarded to Isabella Hayes at Commencement.


1934

  • Robinson House purchased (2 Mead Way).


1935

  • Andrews House with original pool, ca. 1930s Photographer unknown.May - Andrews House purchased. Andrews House with original pool, ca. 1930s Photographer unknown.

1936

  • December 9 - Charter Day is celebrated signifying the 10th anniversary of the granting of the provisional charter.

  • December 9 - Affiliation between the Board of Trustees of Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College terminated. At the termination of the affiliation, Henry Noble MacCracken resigns from the Board of Trustees.


1937

  • Student teacher at the Nursery School, ca. 1940. Photographer unknown.Nursery School, predecessor to the Early Childhood Center, opens on campus. Student teacher at the Nursery School, ca. 1940. Photographer unknown.
  • Morris House purchased (8 Mead Way).


1945

  • Harold Taylor, ca. 1949 Photographer unknown.Harold Taylor begins term as third President (1945-1959). Harold Taylor, ca. 1949 Photographer unknown.

1946

  • Veterans attending SLC under the G.I. Bill, 1950. Photographer unknown.First men are admitted as undergraduate students under the G.I. Bill. Veterans attending SLC under the G.I. Bill, 1950. Photographer unknown.
  • Esther Raushenbush appointed Dean of the College (1946-1957).


1947

  • February 28 - Name of the College officially changed from Sarah Lawrence College for Women to Sarah Lawrence College.

  • May - Second President’s House (24 Brook Road) purchased. (Demolished in 1953 to build Sprain Brook Parkway).


1949

  • July 15 - Amendment approved by Regents to grant M.A. degree. The College introduces programs leading to individualized M.A. degrees.


1951

  • First M.A. degrees granted (2 to men, 2 to women).

  • Kober House, 1970s. Photographer unknown.Kober House purchased. Kober House, 1970s. Photographer unknown.
  • The last of the men on the G.I. Bill graduate.


1954

  • President’s House, n.d. Photographer unknown. Third President’s House (935 Kimball Avenue) with attached Morrill House purchased. President’s House, n.d. Photographer unknown.

1955

  • Tweed House purchased.


1957

  • Laura Bornholdt appointed Dean of the College (1957-1959).


1959

  • Marshall Field House, n.d. Photographer unknown. May - Marshall Field House purchased. Marshall Field House, n.d. Photographer unknown.
  • Gerard Fountain appointed Acting Dean and then Dean of the College (1959-1961).

  • Harrison Tweed, 1959. Photographer unknown. Harrison Tweed appointed Acting President for 1959-60. Harrison Tweed, 1959. Photographer unknown.

1960

  • Paul Ward, ca. 1960. Photographer unknown.Paul Ward begins term as fifth President (1960-1965). Paul Ward, ca. 1960. Photographer unknown.

1961

  • Marjorie Downing appointed Dean of the College (1961-1964).


1962

  • Center for Continuing Education brochure cover.Center for Continuing Education established as the first full-scale undergraduate program in the country designed for returning adult students. Center for Continuing Education brochure cover.

1963

  • Mansell House (10 Mead Way) purchased.


1964

  • Lynd House is named for Helen Merrell Lynd, Philosophy Faculty, 1929-1964. Photographer unknown.May - Lynd House purchased. Lynd House is named for Helen Merrell Lynd, Philosophy Faculty, 1929-1964. Photographer unknown.
  • Esther Raushenbush appointed Acting Dean of the College (1964-1965).

  • August - Brebner House purchased.


1965

  • Jacquelyn Mattfeld appointed Dean of the College (1965-1971).

  • Esther Raushenbush, 1965. Photographer unknown.Esther Raushenbush begins term as sixth President (1965-1969). Esther Raushenbush, 1965. Photographer unknown.

1967

  • North Building completed.


1968

  • Women waving to men on campus, 1959. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.The College becomes coeducational. Women waving to men on campus, 1959. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.

1969

  • Slonim House is named for Marc Slonim, Literature Faculty and Director of Foreign Studies, 1943-1976. Photographer unknown.Slonim House purchased. Slonim House is named for Marc Slonim, Literature Faculty and Director of Foreign Studies, 1943-1976. Photographer unknown.
  • April 25 - Charter amended to grant M.F.A. degree in the performing arts and creative writing.

  • The Human Genetics Graduate Program is established as the first graduate-level genetic counselor training program in the U.S.

  • Charles DeCarlo, ca. 1975. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.Charles DeCarlo begins term as seventh President (1969-1981). Charles DeCarlo, ca. 1975. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.

1970

  • Swinford House purchased.

  • Lyles House purchased.


1971

  • Robert Wagner appointed Dean of the College (1971-1977).


1972

  • Women’s History Graduate Program established as the first M.A. program of its kind.


1974

  • Performing Arts Center, n.d. Photographer unknown.Performing Arts Center completed. Performing Arts Center, n.d. Photographer unknown.
  • Esther Raushenbush Library, ca. 1975. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.Esther Raushenbush Library completed. (Dedicated as Esther Raushenbush Library in 1980). Esther Raushenbush Library, ca. 1975. Photograph by Gary Gladstone.

1976

  • Slonim Woods completed.


1977

  • Alison Baker appointed Dean of the College (1977-1980).


1980

  • Health Advocacy Graduate Program established.

  • Ilja Wachs appointed Dean of the College (1980-1985).


1981

  • Alice Stone Ilchman, President, 1981-1998. Photographer unknown.Alice Stone Ilchman begins term as eighth President (1981-1998). Alice Stone Ilchman, President, 1981-1998. Photographer unknown.

1984

  • Purchase of Faculty House (161 Hampshire Road).


1985

  • Art of Teaching Graduate Program established.

  • Barbara Kaplan appointed Dean of the College (1985-2007).


1987

  • Child Development Institute established and housed in the newly acquired 123 Boulder Trail.


1989

  • Andrews Court housing complex. Photographer unknown.Fall - Andrews Court completed. Andrews Court housing complex. Photographer unknown.

1990

  • Schmidt House (6 Mead Way) purchased.


1994

  • Science Center, 1994. Photographer unknown.Science Center completed. Science Center, 1994. Photographer unknown.

1998

  • Campbell Sports Center completed.

  • Michele Tolela Myers, 2001. Photograph by Susan Woog Wagner.Michele Tolela Myers begins term as ninth President (1998-2007). Michele Tolela Myers, 2001. Photograph by Susan Woog Wagner.

2001

  • Hill House purchased.


2004

  • Heimbold Visual Arts Center, 2004. Photograph by Don Hamerman. Heimbold Visual Arts Center completed. Heimbold Visual Arts Center, 2004. Photograph by Don Hamerman.
  • 45 Wrexham purchased.


2007

  • Pauline Watts appointed Interim Dean of the College (2007-2009).

  • Karen Lawrence, 2006. Photograph by Chris Taggart.Karen Lawrence begins term as tenth President (2007- ). Karen Lawrence, 2006. Photograph by Chris Taggart.

2009

  • Jerrilynn Dodds appointed Dean of the College (2009- ).

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College Archives

The Sarah Lawrence College Archives collects, preserves, and makes accessible materials documenting the history of Sarah Lawrence College from its conception in 1924 to the present. The Archives is the official repository for College records having permanent historical or administrative value. The Archives contains publications, theses, correspondence, photographs, materials relating to student life, ephemera, artifacts, and audio-visual recordings of campus events. | Visit the Archives online»


Related Reading

Setting A New Ship A'Sail:
The Founding of Sarah Lawrence College

by Elizabeth Sargent
As published in The Bronxville Journal, Volume 2 (2002-03), a publication of The Bronxville Historical Conservancy