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"Monstrous Regiment":
Establishment of
Coeducation at USC

An exhibition at Thomas Cooper Library
March 1998

In observance of Women's History Month, the University Archives presents an exhibit commemorating admission of the first women who entered the University of South Carolina, and the reaction of male students and faculty members to this break with the traditional single-gender educational system.

In 1894, USC agreed to admit women as students, becoming the first collegiate institute in the state to allow coeducation. Students attending fall semester, 1895, witnessed enrollment of the first female students, who were designated a "monstrous regiment of women" by a faculty member. This exhibit addresses the social challenges and practical difficulties faced when these women chose to attend a university that offered its female students no dormitory space nor even a bathroom.

Frances Guignard


woman to enroll

at USC

in 1895.

Early pioneers on this educational frontier included Frances Guignard Gibbes, the first woman to enroll, and Laura Kershaw Perry, who garnered both an impressive academic record, and the distinction of "Cruel Coquette of 1900" in a vote of colleagues in her graduating class.

Mattie Jean Adams, USC's first female graduate in 1898, attended Oxford University, earned her M.A. from Columbia University, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature degree from Meridian College, where she served as head of the English Department for eighteen years.

Remember the Ladies...
During the past one hundred years, an increasing proportion of women have enrolled at USC. Since 1981, the number of female students has remained above fifty percent of the total student population.

University Archives holds a number of yearbooks and photographs that document some aspects of the collegiate woman's experience. However, donations from male graduates comprise a majority of the memorabilia held in the Archives' collections. With this exhibit, USC Archives hopes to publicize the need for more personal memorabilia from Carolina's alumnae.

The Archives requests that graduates, friends of the University, and other members of the community contact us concerning the location of any photographs, letters, and other materials that document the USC experience of female students.

For further information, please contact the USC Archives: (803) 777-5158.

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