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Abstract

In the history of higher education in America, Mississippi University for Women (MUW) occupies a peculiar, though rarely acknowledged, position. The University's history provides uniquely fertile ground for studies of diverse groups and their interactions in institutions of higher education, but the lack of a functioning archives has long impeded such study. It was a pioneer in women's colleges, intended to serve the educational needs of all economic classes, teaching Latin and penmanship alongside dressmaking and stenography. It also offers the distinctive perspective of a college explicitly founded for white women that underwent integration in the 1960s, which is still largely unexplored in MUW's case. Finally, it is distinctive in being both the first publicly funded women's college in the United States, and also the last one. While several men's colleges, in particular The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute, were eventually compelled to admit women in the face of the Fourteenth Amendment, MUW is unique in being a women's university similarly forced to admit men. Now that the MUW Archives is again manned and operational, several significant collections addressing the diverse history of the University can be explored, including the Peyton Family Collection and the presidential papers of Charles Hogarth and James Strobel.

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