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Series 1: Records of the Trustees
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 11 series and 1 additional series.
The American College for Girls records comprise eight series. In addition, there is a vital documents series, a substantial collection of photographs, and a sizable body of records that include both colleges.
The collection also contains personal papers of some of the leading figures in the history of each institution, notably Cyrus Hamlin, George Washburn, Christopher Robert, Caleb F. Gates, Mary Mills Patrick and Caroline Borden. Cyrus Hamlin's earliest papers date from the 1830s, while the correspondence of the correspondence Caleb Gates and Mary Patrick extends into their retirement years as they continued to remain in close touch with their colleagues and former students.
The earliest records of ACG date from 1890, the year of its founding with a charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The records are not as complete for the early years as for the later ones. Nevertheless, they document the pioneering role of ACG in opening higher education to women in the Near East and thereby enrich our understanding of the dramatic changes in the changes in the status of women during the twentieth century.
The collection contains a large proportion of college officials in Istanbul and the Office York. The vital role played by the trustees and material support to both colleges is well documented. Throughout the correspondence that concerns the operations of the colleges there can be found many commentaries on events in Turkey and the outlying regions of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, the administrators of both institutions reported on their travels in Europe and the Near East. They wrote about Turkey and conditions during the Russo-Turkish conflict and both World Wars. Finally, they followed with great interest the modernization in Turkey and sought to adapt their own institutions to the far-reaching changes in Turkish society. Thus, while theses records contain the history of two American colleges, they are also significant sources for the study of modern Turkey. Accordingly, extensive descriptions of each record series are provided.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located on-site.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); American College for Girls records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
See also: Robert College Records, George A. Plimpton papers, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve papers
The Bakhmeteff Archive has the following collections: Crane Family Papers and Committee for the Education of Russian Youth in Exile (CERYE) Records
Additions are expected
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Robert College. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--2006.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This collection was processed by Professor Michael A. Lutzker, Director of the Program in Archival Management and Historical Editing at New York University, and Catherine Thompson, a graduate of the Program.
Finding aid written by Professor Michael A. Lutzker and Catherine Thompson in 1988.
Collection is processed to folder level.
2008-11-07 File created.
2009/01/16 xml document instange created by Patrick Lawlor
2009-12-23 xml document instance edited by Patrick Lawlor
2009-05-19 xml document instance edited by Catherine N. Carson
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
The American College for Girls was an outgrowth of an educational experiment called The Home School founded in 1871 in Istanbul by the Woman's Board of Missions and a group of women educators from Boston. Under the leadership of May Mills Patrick, and with the support of Sarah L. Bowker, Caroline Borden and other Boston women, the school was granted an act of incorporation as an educational institution in 1890 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Home School had been gradually adding post-high school course work over the years and in June 1891 conferred Bachelor of Arts degrees on its first seven graduates. As in the case of Robert College, ACG enrolled the Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire. The first Turkish women attended surreptitiously, but more openly and in increasing numbers following the Young Turk uprising of 1908.
The American College for Girls was an outgrowth of an educational experiment called The Home School founded in 1871 in Istanbul by the Woman's Board of Missions* and a group of women educators from Boston. Under the leadership of May Mills Patrick, and with the I support of Sarah L. Bowker, Caroline Borden and other Boston women, the school was granted an act of incorporation as an educational institution in 1890 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Home School had been gradually adding post-high school course work over the years and in June 1891 conferred Bachelor of Arts degrees on its first seven graduates. As in the case of Robert College, ACG enrolled the Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire. The first Turkish women attended surreptitiously, but more openly and in increasing numbers following the Young Turk uprising of 1908.
The process of recruiting faculty members was a difficult one and some instructors pursued graduate work while they taught. In December 1905 a disastrous fire destroyed Barton Hall, the main instructional building, but fortunately no lives were lost. In the next few years Dr. Patrick increased her efforts to expand the college's facilities and by 1914 property had been purchased at Arnavutköy and four new buildings constructed. A fifth, Bingham Hall, was added in 1924. In the meantime the college had secured a second charter from the Massachusetts legislature in 1908 allowing it to develop independently from the restrictions of the Woman's Board of Missions.
The dedication of the new campus was followed in the same year by the outbreak of World War I. Remarkably, the college survived the privations of wartime Istanbul and the Turkish government permitted it to function even after the U.S. declared war on Turkey's allies, the Central Powers. Although some students represented nationalities at war with each other they continued to pursue their education side by side during the four years of the conflict.
One of Dr. Patrick's strongest convictions was that medical education be available to women. In 1920 a medical department was opened at ACG together with the founding of The American Hospital (subsequently known as the Admiral Bristol Hospital). By 1924, however, the trustees of the college concluded that they could not continue to fund the medical department. Shortly afterward the Turkish government decided to limit such professional training to its own educational institutions.
In 1924 Dr. Patrick retired and was succeeded by Kathryn Newell Adams, who had headed the English Department since 1920. She served until 1931.
Prior to the appointment of Paul Monroe in 1932 as the president of both Robert College and the American College for Girls, the two institutions had begun sharing instructors for certain elective classes. The stringencies imposed by the depression led to further consolidation.
When ill health compelled the retirement of Dr. Monroe in 1935, he was succeeded as head of the two institutions by Dr. Walter Livingston Wright, Jr., an Ottoman scholar whose extensive knowledge of the Near East served the colleges well during an era of profound change in Turkey. President Wright faced the continuous task of maintaining academic standards in the face of financial stringency. The curriculum underwent revision as the college strove to adapt to the needs of a nation undergoing modernization.
As Europe's crises of the late 1930s brought war in 1939, it became increasingly difficult to attract qualified teachers. Moreover, when the U.S. became involved in 1941, President Wright was called to Washington to serve as an advisor on Near Eastern affairs. Dean Harold L. Scott, who had served Robert College in several capacities since 1911, guided the institutions through most of the war years acting as president. In 1944 Floyd Henson Black was appointed president of the college. His first teaching position had been as a tutor at Robert College in 1911. In 1914 he had returned to the United States and after completing his doctorate at Harvard he it returned in 1919 to teach Latin. In 1926 he was appointed president of the American College in Sofia where he served for the next eighteen years. By 1944, however, the war forced the closing of the college in Sofia and Floyd Black returned, this time to a combined Robert College and American College for Girls, to lead it into the postwar years. By the war's end the college was highly respected in Turkey and there was no difficulty attracting students. The problems centered on a shortage of faculty and the college's aging physical facilities. Financial constraints and an overburdened faculty threatened an erosion of academic standards, even while extracurricular activities, drama, and athletics flourished. The college found itself at a crossroads and with the impending retirement of Dr. Black in 1955, the faculty sought to re-evaluate the academic needs of the institution while the trustees undertook to seek new sources of funding.
In 1955 Dr. Duncan Ballantine, President of Reed College, was appointed by a joint presidential search committee composed of RC and ACG trustees. His mandate was to revitalize the academic programs at the college. After a year-long study sweeping changes were made. The orta, which trained eleven to fourteen-year-old youngsters, was phased out. The four-year lise was made comparable to the three-year Turkish lise and designated Robert Academy. The collegiate division was granted permission by the Turkish Government to award Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees as well as Masters degrees in both fields. The college program was reorganized into three departments, the Engineering School, the School of Business Administration, and the School of Science and Foreign Languages. All three departments were to be coeducational.
1863 - Robert College founded by Hamlin and Robert.
1871 - American College for Girls (originally known as The Home School) founded in Gedikpaşa.
1874 - American College for Girls moved to Üsküdar.
1912 - Engineering school opened at Robert College (with first civil engineering program in Turkey).
1914 - American College for Girls moved to Arnavutköy campus.
1932 - Administration of RC and ACG united under leadership of a single president.
1958 - Three new schools added to the degree-granting Yüksek (Higher Education) Division of Robert College. Boards of Trustees and endowment funds of both Colleges merged under the name of the Trustees of Robert College of Istanbul.
1971 - Robert College Yüksek transferred to the Turkish Government and now carries on the Robert academic tradition as Boğaziçi University. Robert Academy and ACG combined physically on the Arnavutköy campus as a co- educational six-year preparatory school.