Woman’s Student Government Association records, 1919-1974
Using These Materials
- In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally...
- Duke University. Woman’s Student Government Association
- The Woman's Student Government Association (WSGA) was formed in 1918, and the organization continued when the Woman's College was incorporated on East Campus in 1930. The WSGA was responsible for the "regulat[ion] of all matters pertaining to the life of the women of the Woman's College of Duke University, not under the jurisdiction of the Faculty." This autonomy along with the segregated campus life style of the coordinate college allowed female students to develop leadership skills and confidence that an integrated student government may not have allowed them to gain. Collection contains minutes, correspondence, reports, printed matter, memos, clippings, and other official records of the WSGA and its committees, along with records of several student organizations and documents generated by the administrations of the Woman's College and Duke University. Materials range in date from 1919-1974.
13.8 Linear Feet
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- University Archives Record Group:
31 — Student/Campus Life
02 — Student Organizations-Government
- Scope and Content:
Extent: 13.7 linear ft. (22 Hollinger boxes + 1 flat box)
Contents: Minutes, correspondence, reports, printed matter, memos, clippings, and other official records of the WSGA and its committees, along with records of several student organizations and documents generated by the administrations of the Woman's College and Duke University. Subjects include the honor system, class reports, dormitory life, athletics, elections, freshman orientation, social organizations, handbooks, celebrations, and social regulations. The collection includes materials, such as handbooks and surveys, received from other schools, and publications and other material from the National Student Association.
Organization: Series: 1. WSGA Minutes; 2. Correspondence; 3. Subject files; 4. Materials from other colleges; 5. National Student Association; 6. Account books; 7. Student Organizations; 8. Oversize
Restriction: Judicial Board case files closed except by permission, University Archivist. Some folders may contain information restricted by FERPA.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Woman's College was established in 1930, as coordinate college to Trinity College for men, with the appointment of Alice M. Baldwin as Dean of the Woman's College. Prior to that women had a long history of attending Trinity College (the antecedent of Duke University). Three Giles sisters were awarded degrees in 1878 on the basis of private instruction by faculty members before Trinity College moved to Durham in 1892. In 1892 the Board of Trinity College officially admitted women to the college, and the first women to attend regular classes graduated in 1896. These women had been permitted to attend classes but they were not given residence on the campus.
In 1896, Washington Duke made a gift of $100,000 to Trinity College urging that women be admitted "on equal footing with men." A small dormitory, the Mary Duke Building was subsequently built in 1898; however it was torn down in 1912. It was replaced by Southgate dormitory for women in 1921. The increase in women students during World War I gave rise to the instatement of a Dean of Women, Martha Buchanan, as well as the formation of the Woman's Student Government in 1918. In 1924, Alice M. Baldwin was named Dean of Women. Upon reflection of her early years at Trinity College Alice Baldwin notes:
- "When I first came to Trinity, it was primarily a man's college, run by men, where some women had studied for years, it is true, but where women had no part in administration except to some extent in the social life and the management of the one women's dormitory."
With the creation of the coordinate Woman's College this gradually began to change and women (administrators and students) were given more control over East Campus.
The Woman's Student Government Association was formed in 1918 and its purpose listed in the 1922 amended constitution was "to preserve student honor, to develop self-control, and to govern the young women matriculated of the College." In order to fulfill these functions the Association mandated that several committees should be formed including a social committee, social service committee, social standards committee, and room committee plus a journal, publicity, and social room committees.
With the incorporation of the Woman's College in 1930 the purpose of the Woman's Student Government Association (WSGA) of Duke University broadened to encompass "regulat[ion] of all matters pertaining to the life of the women of the Woman's College of Duke University, not under the jurisdiction of the Faculty." Furthermore the organization was "to increase a sense of individual responsibility; to further a spirit of unity among the women of the College; and to cooperate with the Faculty in creating and maintaining high ideals for the Women of the University."
Therefore the WSGA in cooperation with the Administrative staff of the College was responsible for the formation and enforcement of the regulations for the Woman's College. These regulations include those related to specific classes (i.e. freshmen, upperclassmen, etc.), general social regulations (drinking, smoking, automobiles, dates), house regulations (closing/quiet hours, men callers, late leaves, serenades), off-campus regulations (Durham area restaurants, hotels), and social standards regulations (attire on campus, off campus, and behavior becoming to Woman's College students).
The segregated campus life style of the coordinate college allowed female students to develop leadership skills and confidence that an integrated student government may not have allowed them to gain. For "in addition to the judicial board, the Woman's Student Government Association consisted of a strong network of dorm representatives and legislators." Upon reflection most alumnae said that they appreciated the leadership experiences inherit in the creation of policy and self-discipline. Indeed the Woman's College produced many political and cultural luminaries including: Elizabeth Dole; Ann K. Covington; Nancy Hanks; Eleanor Smeal; Margaret Taylor Smith; and Anne Tyler.
During the 1960s a perpetual request from the student body was the liberalizing of social regulations, especially those that were traditionally imposed upon women and not on men. This issue became a driving-force in the creation of a university unified student government, and in 1967 the student body voted to merge the Men's Student Government and the Woman's Student Government Association creating the Associated Students of Duke University (ASDU). Valerie Ann Mosley (1980) was the first female president of ASDU. In 1972, the consolidation of the two separate colleges became complete when the Board of Trustees approved the merger of the Woman's College and Trinity College.
- "President Few and the Woman's College" in folder 1198, William Preston Few Records and Papers, University Archives, Duke University.
- "WSGA Amendments, 1922," Box 7, Woman's Student Government Association records, University Archives, Duke University.
- 1930 Woman's College Handbook, University Archives, Duke University.
- Daub, Tammy. "Smashing the Glass Ceiling," The Chronicle 11 October 1996.
- ibid. and Arnold, Autumn ,"White Gloves and Parlor Games," The Chronicle 18 January 2006.
- Acquisition Information:
- The Woman’s Student Government Association Records were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1974-1997.
- Processing information:
Processed by Archives staff, October 2007
Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, October 2007
Accessions 74-108, A89-0031, A94-119, A97-59 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
- Associated Students of Duke University records, 1965-1993. — University Archives, Duke University.
- Woman’s College records, 1928-1974. — University Archives, Duke University.
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
- Student participation in administration
Duke University. Woman’s Student Government Association. Social Standards Committee
Duke University. Woman’s Student Government Association
Duke University. Woman’s Student Government Association
Duke University. Student Government
Duke University -- Students
Duke University -- Students -- Political activity
Duke University -- Students -- Societies, etc.
Associated Students of Duke University
Using These Materials
In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Woman’s Student Government Association Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.