Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern woman decides to attend Vanderbilt University over Vassar

Young explains that despite her parent's plans to send their daughters to Vassar and their sons to Vanderbilt, she attended Vanderbilt with her brothers during the early 1900s. By that time, Vanderbilt was a coeducational institution, although men still outnumbered women students by a fairly high ratio. Earlier in the interview she had explained that she and her siblings all attended private college preparation schools in Memphis while they were growing up. Several times throughout the interview she stresses how highly education, for both men and women, was valued in her family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

When they so-called lost the college. No he had died by then, but I was at Vanderbilt. And when the time came my brothers were at Vanderbilt and so on. So we decided to skip Vassar. I went to Vanderbilt instead of to Vassar.
ROBERT HALL:
Why did you decide to do that?
LOUISE YOUNG:
Well, I don't know. You know we were a very united family. That's really true. Things, decisions were sort of made in the air or somewhere or other you know. It was deeply distressing, well it's a long story but my oldest sister was at Vassar and my next sister was ready to go. She was in very poor health at the time and the feeling was that rigorous northern climate would be more than she could take. So the idea was to just, my mother thought it up and my father said, well we'll just send them to Vanderbilt. So my older sister went to Vassar and my freshman sister went with her you see. And the aunt, the Vassar aunt who had really told us we were all going to Vassar, my mother's sister, was in Europe at the time or my mother said she would not have had the courage to get us away from Vassar. So I recall writing my aunt in deep distress, your Vassar niece. I was gonna stand by the old guns you know. But by the time my time came somehow or other I had shifted. I was right in front of my brother who was here and this sister was still here you see, so there were three of us here. Then they graduated. My younger brother. And so I was here with my brother.
ROBERT HALL:
It was co-educational?
LOUISE YOUNG:
Yes, it was coed then and there were not more than forty of us in college, altogether.
ROBERT HALL:
All the girls?
LOUISE YOUNG:
All the girls. There were some hundred boys I should guess, and only forty girls. And there are various stories you will hear about that, that girls had an awful hard time, so on and so forth. And certainly boys in general you know sort of like to have their own boys college in those days. But there were always quite a few boys that sort of liked to hang around the girls, including the coeds you you see. So we lived on campus in faculty homes for the most part, with old family friends. That's the way it was set up there. My brothers were in college. We didn't feel neglected at all. We had a very good time.
ROBERT HALL:
A very good social life?
LOUISE YOUNG:
A very good social life.