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James Orton published The Liberal Education of Women: the Demand and the Method: Current Thoughts in American and England. The collection of 36 essays surveyed the issues—from single-sex versus coeducational education to current questions of health and community fabric—and offered essays on the experiences at seven American colleges and universities and at six institutions in England, Ireland and Scotland. An appendix presented a summary essay by one of the contributors to the volume, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, along with extended comments on it by Louis Agassiz, Harvard President Charles W. Eliot, and Wendell Phillips. Orton’s volume remained an important assessment for many years.

In his essay on the experience at Vassar, Orton noted: “It has been doubted whether a true collegiate standard could be maintained in a woman’s college. It has been done at Vassar for eight years; and the Faculty have yet to receive a petition for a lower standard.”

The Years