Welcome to Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia! Here we will give you a glimpse of what it might have been like to be a student in the nineteen-sixties. Using the menus you can explore four different majors and possible classes that were available. Hidden within the site are links to an underground newspaper that will give you insight into the attitudes of students on campus so be sure to keep an eye out. Also, don’t forget to visit the “Hear What Our Students Have to Say” section in order to read about the experiences of a few of our alumni.
In the 1960s, Mary Washington College existed as the women’s school of the University of Virginia. Founded in 1908, the College was all female and would remain so through the end of the decade. Nevertheless, Mary Washington was undergoing many changes during this decade, both academic and social. Some features of life at Mary Washington College would be familiar to today’s students, while other aspects have changed entirely.
The Honor Code was, as it always has been, an important part of life at Mary Washington. Students began their year by signing the Honor Pledge, just as you did when you entered this website. They agreed to abide by that code of conduct throughout their academic careers.
Although this aspect of college life remains an integral part of the school today, the academic atmosphere was changing during the 1960s. One sign of this was the debate over the Home Economics major; many faculty members felt that this program did not support the greater goals of a Liberal Arts institution, and Home Economics was offered as a major for the last time to the graduating class of 1968. Later classes could take Home Economics courses, but only as extracurriculars. Today, of course, Mary Washington has no Home Economics department, but many of the courses once taught by Home Economics professors are part of the theatre, psychology or science departments. You can read about them in the “Academics” section of this website, where you will find complete course listings for a sample of four very different majors available in the 1964-1965 academic year.
It was also during the 1960s that Mary Washington began the process of racial integration. Grace McClellan Hobson notes, in her interview, that Mary Washington’s first African American student graduated in 1968. Venus Jones and the women of color who studied at Mary Washington in the following years were, by their very presence, participating in breaking the color barrier in Virginia’s schools.
Not all changes were monumental, of course. It was during the 60s that students were first allowed to smoke on campus. Some even recall smoking during classes! Students at Mary Washington could take extracurriculars such as pilot lessons at the nearby Stafford airport, or participate in many of the sports still found at the University today, such as fencing, horseback riding and synchronized swimming.
We invite you to have a look around our website and get a feel for life at Mary Washington College as students of the 1960s experienced it. Read course catalogs and interviews with alumnae, and learn about the recent changes to College policy. See if you can find the hidden link to the underground newspaper published by Mary Washington students!
Thank you for visiting our website! Kendall, Samantha, Sara and Rebecca