Seven Sisters (colleges)

From Academic Kids

The Seven Sisters are a historic group of American women's colleges. The members are:

Two of the Seven Sisters, Mount Holyoke and Smith, are also members of the Five Colleges.


The Seven Sisters colleges were founded between 1865 and the early 1890s, and the era of their founding saw the first widespread attempts to bring to privileged young women in the United States a higher education equivalent in breadth and rigor to that offered by the men's undergraduate colleges of the time. They also offered broader opportunities in academia to women, hiring many female faculty members and administrators.

The Seven Sisters group was formally organized in 1927 to promote higher education for women. The name was a reference to the Pleiades, seven sisters from Greek mythology.

For the first time in 1978, women had served as the presidents of all of the Seven Sisters colleges.

Not all of the Seven Sisters remain all-female colleges; some have become coeducational. Vassar began accepting men in 1969. In 1963, Harvard College assumed joint responsibility with Radcliffe over Radcliffe undergraduates. In 1999 Radcliffe College was dissolved, and Harvard assumed full responsibility over the affairs of female undergraduates. Radcliffe is now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Women's Studies at Harvard University.

Some sources suggest that the Seven Sisters group was so named as a parallel to the Ivy League. Until the 1960s, the Seven Sisters maintained extensive social ties with nearby Ivy League universities, including weekend visits, dances and parties inviting Ivy and Seven Sisters students to mingle. This was the case not only at Barnard and Radcliffe, which were situated very near to Columbia University and Harvard University, but at more distant institutions as well. (The movie Animal House includes a satiric version of the formerly common visits by Dartmouth men to Massachusetts to meet Smith and Mount Holyoke women, a drive of more than two hours.)

The Seven Sisters in popular culture

In a 2003 episode of the television show The Simpsons ("I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can"), the fictional character Lisa Simpson, who has been offered a scholarship to a Seven Sisters college of her choice, has a dream in which each of the colleges is humorously personified. [1] (


Seven Sisters Colleges
Barnard | Bryn Mawr | Mount Holyoke | Radcliffe | Smith | Vassar | Wellesley

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