New Jersey Women's Heritage
Evelyn College Students,
Courtesy, Princeton University Library.
Evelyn College, the first women's college in New
Jersey, was founded in Princeton in 1887 by the Reverend Joshua Hall McIlvaine, a
Presbyterian minister, with the help of his wife and two daughters. Evelyn College was
designed as a coordinate college to Princeton University, at that time known as the
College of New Jersey. Princeton trustees sat on its board, and Princeton professors
taught its students, who were also permitted to use the Princeton University Library.
Evelyn College was initially successful: by 1890, it had 46 students and similar entrance
requirements and curriculum to other U.S. women's colleges. The students resided in a
house about a mile from the center of Princeton. Reverend McIlvaine's two daughters, Alice
and Elizabeth, served as principals. The college, however, was essentially a private
enterprise of the McIlvaine family, who tried to run it for profit. With no endowment, and
no core group of supporters, Evelyn College closed in1897 after Reverend McIlvaine's