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Pittsburgh Female College Association | Chatham University Archives

Name: Pittsburgh Female College Association

Historical Note:

In 1854, Bishop Matthew Simpson received a charter from the Pennsylvania Legislature for the Pittsburgh Female College, the first Pennsylvania institution dedicated to the education of women and permitted to confer degrees. Under the patronage of the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the charter stipulated that the college would accept students of all religious denominations.  Following the resignation of the first president of the school, Reverend Israel C. Pershing was elected president and remained until 1886 when he was accused of defrauding the Methodist Church.  Dr. Allen H. Norcross was president until 1895.  Dr. Nicholas Howell Holmes was president from 1895 to 1896.  Dr. Pershing’s daughter, Lizzie Pershing was the school’s vice president for 1877 – 1886, leaving the school at the same time as her father.  Among the notable the Pittsburgh Female College alumni are Frances E. Willard, Edith Darlington Ammon, and Helen E. Pelletreau, a later president of the Pennsylvania College for Women.

The Pittsburgh Female College was first located in downtown Pittsburgh, on present day 8th Street between Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Penn Avenue.  Fires at this location in 1891 and 1893 forced the college to lease a property in the East End of Pittsburgh on Homewood Avenue called “Fahnestock Place.”  In 1896 the Pittsburgh Female College merged with the Beaver College in Beaver, Pennsylvania under the supervision of the Pittsburgh Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church.  Pittsburgh Female College assets were transferred to Beaver College and many students and faculty continued study there.  Beaver College merged with the Beechwood School for Girls in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and severed ties with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1925.  Beaver College was renamed Arcadia University in 2001.

The Pittsburgh Female College Association was formed in Pittsburgh 1905 by Miss Nataline M. Crumpton, a Pittsburgh Female College alumna who wished to perpetuate the memory of the school and its culture with the object of promoting education for women. Throughout the early years of the association, several memorial events were produced by the organization.  In 1908, the PFCA began a scholarship program that awarded tuition to a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Margaret Morrison College, Carnegie Technical Institute, and the Pennsylvania College for Women.  The organization also made regular contributions to organizations, including the College Club, the War Library Fund, and donations to musical concerts and cultural events in Pittsburgh.  Miss Helen Pershing was the treasurer of the PFCA for many years.

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