Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and functioned as a female coordinate institution for the all-male Harvard College. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges, among which it shared with Bryn Mawr College the popular reputation of having a particularly intellectual, literary, and independent-minded student body. Radcliffe conferred Radcliffe College diplomas to undergraduates and graduate students for the first 70 or so years of its history and then joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas to undergraduates beginning in 1963. A formal "non-merger merger" agreement with Harvard was signed in 1977, with full integration with Harvard completed in 1999. Today, within Harvard University, Radcliffe's former administrative campus is home to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and former Radcliffe housing at the Radcliffe Quadrangle has been incorporated into the Harvard College house system. Under the terms of the 1999 consolidation, the Radcliffe Yard and the Radcliffe Quadrangle retain the "Radcliffe" designation in perpetuity.
The "Harvard Annex," a private program for the instruction of women by Harvard faculty, was founded in 1879 after prolonged efforts by women to gain access to Harvard College. Arthur Gilman, Cambridge resident, banker, philanthropist and writer, was the founder of what became The Annex/Radcliffe. At a time when higher education for women was a sharply controversial topic, Gilman hoped to establish a higher educational opportunity for his daughter that exceeded what was generally available in female seminaries and the new women's colleges such as Vassar and Wellesley, most of which in their early years had substantial numbers of faculty who were not university trained. In conversations with the chair of Harvard's classics department, he outlined a plan to have Harvard faculty deliver instruction to a small group of Cambridge and Boston women. He then approached Harvard President Charles William Eliot with the idea and Eliot approved. Gilman and Eliot recruited a group of prominent and well-connected Cambridge women to manage the plan. These women were Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, Mary H. Cooke, Stella Scott Gilman, Mary B. Greenough, Ellen Hooper Gurney, Alice Mary Longfellow and Lillian Horsford.
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