Evelyn College

Evelyn College for Women created a pleasant stir in the borough of Princeton for ten years toward the end of the last century. Founded in 1887 by a 72-year-old clergyman and former Princeton professor, Joshua Hall McIlvaine 1837, who named it after Sir John Evelyn, seventeenth-century man of letters, the college was housed in two buildings about a mile east of the center of town, one on what is now called Evelyn Place, the other on the southwest corner of Nassau and Harrison Streets.

Although Evelyn had no legal connection with Princeton, it enjoyed most of the benefits of a coordinate college. President Patton, Dean Murray, and Professors Marquand and Young were on its board of trustees, and most of Princeton's senior professors lectured there. Enrollment was small, probably never more than fifty in one year, made up largely of daughters of professors in the College and the Seminary and sisters of Princeton undergraduates.

When the newly formed Colonial Club rented the house next door to Evelyn College for its first clubhouse, it found its competitive position strengthened vis--vis the three slightly older eating clubs, and although President McIlvaine complained to President Patton that Colonial's proximity meant the ruination of Evelyn, the club was allowed to enjoy its advantage until the expiration of its year's lease.

During the four-year depression that followed the Panic of 1893, hard times kept down enrollment and also diminished the chances of obtaining any sizable gifts for endowment and buildings. After President McIlvaine died in 1897, Evelyn College closed its doors forever, and Princeton had to wait almost three quarters of a century before education for women within its precincts became a reality. (Women)


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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