Boston: L.C. Page & Company, 1905. Single volume, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: , xiv, 319, . Original full pictorial ribbed grey cloth, front board and spine stamped in red, black, peach, and gilt, top edge gilt, foreedge uncut. Frontispiece portrait of “a typical college girl of America,” illustrated with photographic plates throughout text. Penciled owner signature, dated Christmas 1906. Spine gilt gently faded.
First edition of this optimistic survey of American women’s colleges at the turn of the twentieth century. Crawford, a graduate of both Radcliffe and Simmons, opens with a forceful argument for women’s education: “The future of American culture depends upon the women.” She profiles sixteen women’s colleges, starting with individual chapters on the Seven Sisters: Smith, Wellesley, Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard. Crawford also covers lesser-known regional colleges, and the experience of women students at coordinate and co-educational institutions. While Crawford focuses primarily on women’s eventual influence as wives, mothers, and teachers, she also considers other career paths open to an educated woman, such as business owner and physician. Her attempt to play both sides sometimes results in contradictory advice: “If you aim to be independent, girls, be independent. You have no real right to be earning your living when it is not necessary for you to enter the economic struggle.” This copy bears the contemporary ownership signature of Lila Belle Carhart (1885-1959), who would have been twenty-one at the time. A fine copy, in a striking publisher's binding, offering a panorama of women’s higher education during the Progressive Era.