Carol’s First Carrel

Carol’s first carrel was on the third floor in the stacks of the Williston Memorial Library at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. A quiet respite where she could study and read during the day between classes and into the late night. A reserved carrel with personal photos and books and stuff that could stay there all through the semester. A treasured hideaway place.

Mount Holyoke was the first women’s college in the United States. It was founded by Mary Lyon, a minister and a chemist, as a women’s seminary in 1837. When I was there in the ’70’s and before that, it was one of what was known then as The Seven Sisters. The women’s college equivalent of the men’s Ivy League. Women could not go to the men’s schools in those days. Barnard at Columbia and Radcliffe at Harvard had smaller campuses adjacent to the men’s larger main quads. But, Wellesley, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Vassar and Mount Holyoke were stand-alone female institutions with their own sprawling campuses and dorms. All of the Ivy’s later went co-ed, but of the Sisters only Vassar went co-ed in 1969.

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