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Muriel Simonson: The life of a student at Jackson College 1924-1929

Tufts in the '20s

Women at Tufts

Tufts University became co-educational in 1892 and it wasn't long until the women enrolled at the school outnumbered the men more than two-to-one. The academic success of the new women scholars quickly became a point of tension within the University and in 1910 pressure from parents, members of the Board of Trustees, professors, and others resistant to the concept of a co-ed school lead to the establishment of Jackson College, a separate coordinate college for female students where enrollment and access to awards and scholarships was limited.

When Muriel enrolled in Jackson in 1924 approximately 27% of Tufts undergraduates were women, down significantly from the approximately 70% in the late 19th century. Similarly, almost none of the Tufts faculty were women. In the 1924-25 academic year 100% of professors and lecturers and 94% of assistant professors at Tufts were men. Of the 11 women teaching at Tufts that year, 8 were working at the Medical School.

School Expenses

School expenses at Jackson College for the 1924-25 school were quite similar to fees at Tufts College. Tuition was $200 a year, room rent ran between $50-100 dollars depending on location and number of roommates, and board at Metcalf Hall cost $270 per year. With associated fees, a Jackson College woman rooming in a cheap single room could expect to pay around $561 for the year. Non-resident students at Jackson College could expect to spend $246.

Room: $50-85 (Single), $50-100 (Double), $60-80 (Triple)

Board: $270

General maintenance fee: $10

Tuition: $200

Lab fees: $10

Student activity fees: $10

Typewriter fee: $6

Infirmary fee: $5

Non-resident fee: $15


In 1920, as Muriel was entering High School, only 21.1% of women in the US were part of the workforce. Of that workforce, the majority (77%) of them were single or widowed. Only 23% of married women were employed. By 1930, shortly after Muriel's graduation from Jackson College the rate of employment for women in the US age 15 and over was at around 32%. Still, the majority of them (83%) were single, widowed, or divorced (or status unknown) while 17% were married.