Louise Mott Miles

Women in Higher Education

Louise was a strong believer in education. Not only did she obtain a degree when higher education was finally becoming the norm for women, but she went on to spend decades using that knowledge to teach her skills to younger generations.

The prominence of normal schools, sometimes called teachers' colleges, helped to bring women into universities across the country. During the 1920s, attitudes also shifted and women began to discuss the idea of a marriage and a career, rather than one or the other. While this did not play out for many, Louise lived this reality.

The following images display information relevant to women in higher education, including some of Louisa's own personal experiences.
Please note: Images may be subject to copyright restriction. Right assessment is the responsibility of the researcher.

This clipping from the Middle Tennessee State Teachers College Sidelines newspaper dated July 7, 1927 discusses the resignation of a women's dormitory matron. Matrons were in charge of the well-being of young women in the dorm. The article notes that by setting an example herself, she "protected womanliness among her girls." The virtue of female students needed to be maintained at all times.The university housed several different literary societies, devoted to the purpose of reading. However the societies were not co-educational; each was known as either a male or female society.This photo comes from Louise Mott Miles' Tennessee College for Women yearbook. Women's colleges and seminaries were essential to providing an education to women before coeducation became widespread. Louise is pictured in the back row, the furthest to the left.Louise believed in the importance of education and was an active member of the Murfree Society, serving as vice president during the 1926–1927 school year. Louise is pictured second from the left in this photograph.Louise eventually became the president of the society her senior year of school. In this photo she is the furthest on the left.Middle Tennessee State University underwent many changes, even early on. This image from the 1925 Bulletin explains the history of MTSTC until that point."Kent State Normal School, "Summer Term", 1914" LOC PAN SUBJECT - Groups no. 216 (E size) [P&P] In the early 20th century, "normal" schools, (schools designed to train teachers) began forming across the country. "Students, Normal School, Tempe, Arizona" LOC PAN SUBJECT - Groups no. 196 (E size) [P&P] Normal schools were an important avenue for women's education and coeducation. Teaching was considered to be an appropriate career for women because it was similar to raising children in the home.At MTSTC, curriculum was focused specifically on the student's major course of study, and general education requirements were chosen specifically to compliment future careers. This was a departure from traditional universities and seminaries in the past, where students learned a wide variety of literature, language, religion, and similar topics. The author of this article from the MTSTC Sidelines, dated July 7, 1927, defends the state-run teachers schools.This image of the physical lab is from the 1912 Middle Tennessee Normal School Bulletin. Because teaching was an acceptable profession for women, normal schools furthered the notion of coeducation.This image of the school's chemistry lab was taken from the 1916-1917 Middle Tennessee Normal School Bulletin. During the early 20th century, it becomes more common to see photographs of men and women working side by side in university classrooms."Herald Tour, Staunton, State Normal school, Harrisonburg, Va." LOC LC-F8- 9784 [P&P] By the 1920s, women were securing their place on college campuses."Normal school group," LOC LC-F81- 19561 [P&P]."Miss Leah Cate winning the 70 yard dash for women at the Geo. Wash. University inter class track meet today Central stadium," LOC LOT 12297, v. 2 <item> [P&P]. Women at colleges were able to participate in various types of sporting events."...Retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Interior, after 33 years of service, Mrs. Isabelle Haggett at 75 is now a co-ed at George Washington University, proving the old adage 'one is never to old to learn' still holds good..." LOC LC-H22-D- 5730 [P&P] As coeducation became more popular, women on campus were commonly referred to as "co-eds."
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