Greenville Woman’s College

1854–1961

Between 1931 and 1937 Greenville Woman’s College became Furman University’s women’s college. Its buildings were demolished after 1961, when women joined men on Furman’s new campus.

Chartered in 1854 by the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the Greenville Baptist Female College, located a mile from Furman University, opened in 1855 on the former site of the Greenville Academies. Furman trustees controlled the college until 1908 when it became an independent South Carolina Baptist college.

The Greenville Female College (the “Baptist” was dropped in the 1870s) included primary and preparatory departments. Established without endowment, it was rented to presidents until 1894. The college awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree beginning in 1893; after 1918 it added bachelor’s degrees in science and music, its strongest department. It was the second largest college for women in the state (next to Winthrop College), with a peak enrollment of 701 in 1920. Sixty percent of its graduates became teachers.

During his nineteen-year (1911–1930) presidency, David Ramsay changed the Female College’s name to Greenville Woman’s College, doubled enrollment, income, and faculty, instituted rigorous admissions standards, tripled the size of the library and built one of the most impressive fine arts facilities in the South. He could not, however, raise the $500,000 endowment required for accreditation. With budget deficits and intense economic pressures, the college could not survive the Depression. He resigned in 1930. Trustees then agreed to coordinate with Furman University. Between 1931 and 1937 the schools gradually merged, and Greenville Woman’s College became Furman University’s women’s college. Its buildings were demolished after 1961, when women joined men on Furman’s new campus.

Bainbridge, Judith T. Academy and College: The History of the Woman’s College of Furman University. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2001.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Greenville Woman’s College
  • Coverage 1854–1961
  • Author
  • Keywords South Carolina Baptist Convention, Furman trustees controlled the college until 1908 when it became an independent South Carolina Baptist college, David Ramsay
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date August 9, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 2, 2020
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