Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Edith W. King, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Margo Espenlaub

Third Advisor

Sylvia Hall-Ellis

Fourth Advisor

Ingrid Tague


Colorado Woman's College, Curriculum history, Junior colleges, Mental hygiene movement, Personality development, Women's colleges


Colorado Women's College (CWC), a private, Baptist college for women in Denver, Colorado, first welcomed students to its campus in 1909, making it one of only a handful of women's colleges in the American West, where coeducation predominated. This dissertation describes and interprets the curriculum offered at CWC in the period from 1909 to 1967. The analysis of the curriculum is divided into six eras, marked by moments of curricular change, including the College's transitions from four-year college to junior college, and back. This project distinguishes CWC as an understudied institution by placing it within the literature on the history of women's colleges.

The study documents academic degrees and courses offered, pedagogical techniques employed, College enrollment figures, and most popular student majors. In addition, the study explores how CWC defined the purpose of education for women through its established curriculum. Comparisons are made between CWC and other women's colleges and the study includes student responses and reactions to the CWC curriculum.

Employing the historical method, this dissertation utilizes primary source documents collected from archival repositories, including College course catalogs, yearbooks, student newspapers, local and national newspapers, alumnae survey questionnaires, oral history transcripts, and more to provide a window on the curriculum at Colorado Women's College.

The study discovers that CWC always offered a diverse curriculum (including liberal arts, domestic, and vocational curricula) that served women's multiple needs and ever-changing social roles. During the early 20th century, debates raged between those who argued for women's domestic education to prepare them for future roles as wives and mothers, and those who advocated for a liberal arts education for women, comparable to that offered to men. In the midst of these constant debates over the purpose of education for women, CWC elected to offer a curriculum that reflected both sides. The study concludes that CWC, throughout its history, found ways to balance these competing ideologies so as to never over-emphasize any one position. In particular, the College utilized a personality development program beginning in the 1930s (which became central to CWC's identity) to maintain traditional and modern ideas regarding women and their education.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jennifer Ann Thompson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

424 p.


History of education, Higher education, Women's studies