In April 1874, a woman submitted her
application to the then all-male Brown
The school’s Advisory and Executive
Committee rejected the application thinking
that accepting women was not going to be
benefit the school. This case was reviewed
and re-reviewed for fourteen years.
In October 1891, the Women’s College was
founded in Brown University.
This was the
first time women were allowed to enroll in
an Ivy League institution. However, the men
attended the all-male Brown College and were
segregated from the new batch of female Ivy
League students. A similar gender
segregation system was implemented in other
universities such as the Columbia
University, which had the Columbia College
for men and the Barnard College for women;
the Harvard University, which had the
Harvard College for men and the Radcliffe
College for women;
and the Princeton
University, which has the College of New
Jersey for men and the Evelyn College for
|The Women’s College of Brown was
recognized as an official body of the university in 1896. In
1903, the Women’s College was provided with its own faculty.
The college was renamed Pembroke College in 1928 after
Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge in England.
One of the founders of Rhode Island graduated from the
Pembroke College of Cambridge, and in honor of him, one of
the buildings in the Brown University was named Pembroke
Hall. This man was Roger Williams. Williams was an English
theologian, a supporter of religious toleration and the
separation of church and state. He campaigned for fair
dealings with Native Americans, and in 1644, he received a
charter for the creation of the Rhode Island colony.
The Pembroke Hall was where most of the women students’
classes took place. The Women’s College was also already
using the Pembroke College of Cambridge coat of arms on
their programs and pins.
In 1969, Pembroke and Brown students started sharing
dormitories. Students from both schools were participating
in the same classes and extracurricular activities anyway,
so the Advisory and Executive Council decided to merge the
all male and the all female college. The merger became
official in July 1, 1971.
The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was
established in 1981 in the Brown University. It prided
itself as a “center for interdisciplinary research on gender
and society”, and it aimed to preserve the history and
continue the involvement of women in Brown. The Center is
associated with Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and it houses
Gender Studies programs. Aside from this the Pembroke Center
for Teaching and Research on Women, in line with its
mission, publishes the Academic Journal Differences: A
Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.
Over time, the number of women students in Brown continued
to increase and during school year 2005-2006, fifty one
percent of the students were female.