These amazing portrait shots of Wellesley College’s girls were taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1938.
Wellesley College was founded in 1870 by Henry and Pauline Durant, who were passionate about the higher education of women. Wellesley’s first president, Ada Howard, and nearly all of the College’s early educators and administrators were women. The first students, numbering 314, moved into College Hall and began classes in 1875. From that first class, 18 were graduated in 1879.
On March 17, 1914, College Hall was destroyed by fire. Though no lives were lost, Wellesley College suffered greatly from the loss of the oldest and most central building on campus. As the College rebuilt following the tragedy, nine major buildings were constructed in the next 17 years, and the academic center of the campus was relocated atop Norumbega Hill.
Two of Wellesley’s most famous alumnae—Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 and Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69—were graduated in the following years. During the late 1960s another large curriculum revision occurred, polishing the modern course of study grounded in the liberal arts with significant and renowned science departments. Since 1968, exchange programs with other colleges such as MIT have further enhanced educational opportunities available to Wellesley students.
(Photos by Alfred Eisenstaedt, via LIFE archives)