The Seven Sister colleges are well known for producing some of the nation's most successful women. At the turn of the century, they were recognized as the leading institutions for elite White women. In this article, Linda Perkins outlines the historical experiences of African American women attending the Seven Sister colleges from the institutions' founding to the civil rights era of the 1960s, a period during which approximately five hundred Black women graduated from these institutions. Through an exploration of university archives, alumni bulletins, and oral interviews with alumnae, Perkins shows that the Seven Sister colleges were not a monolithic entity: some admitted African American women as far back as the turn of the century, while others grudgingly, and only under great pressure, admitted them decades later. Perkins illustrates how the Seven Sister colleges mirrored the views of the larger society concerning race, and how issues of discrimination in admissions, housing, and financial aid in these institutions were influenced by, and had an influence on, the overall African American struggle for full participatory citizenship.

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