Working-Class Students at Radcliffe College, 1940-1970: The Intersection of Gender, Social Class, and Historical Context

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This book explores the experiences of working-class students in higher education at Radcliffe College during the years 1940-1970. More specifically, this work examines how the mid-point of the twentieth century’s changing social, political, institutional, and economic forces influenced the undergraduate and alumnae satisfaction levels and post-graduate career paths of working-class students.


“The life benefits that result from the opportunity for a working-class student to attend an elite college are apparent in Jennifer O’Connor Duffy’s own pathway from firefighter’s daughter to the Ivy League. Her account of her counterparts across time makes for an important contribution to women’s studies and higher education. – Karen Arnold, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director, Higher Education Administration, Boston College

"... combines a rich historical narrative with secondary statistical analyses to portray the experiences of working-class students and alumnae from one elite women's college during the middle decades of the twentieth century. This study contributes to a small but growing body of historical scholarship on college women from working-class families, and findings from this study also document longer-term impacts of college on subsequent lives and careers of these particular Radcliffe women." -- Carrie A. Kortegast and Prof. Florence A. Hamrick, Iowa State University

“In Dr. O’Connor Duffy’s rigorous assessment of the experiences of working-class women at an elite college we are finally treated to a view of the nexus of class and gender on the college campus. – Dr. Ana M. Martínez Alemán, Associate Professor; Chair, Department of Educational Administration & Higher Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

“At once an historical treatise and a research-based examination, this book is a timely and relevant discourse on the importance of providing educational opportunities to those who have been traditionally underrepresented in , and disenfranchised by, the American higher education system.” - Dr. Michael J. Siegel, Assistant Professor and Director, Administration of Higher Education Program, Education and Human Services Department, Suffolk University

"O'Connor Duffy uses a variety of primary sources to show how upward mobility was possible with a Radcliffe degree, but that satisfaction with progress and opportunities strongly depended on a variety of internal and external factors." Book News Inc.

"Through her work, 'O Connor Duffy makes a meaningful, masterful case for why and how elite education can better serve working-class women, advancing the possibility that the democratic values that most liberal arts colleges espouse will someday indeed come to fruition." - Susan B. Marine, Feminist Teacher

Table of Contents

Foreword by Karen Arnold, Ph.D.
1 Introduction
2 Review of Literature
3 Research Design and Methodology
4 Findings
5 Discussion

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