An American Girl, and Her Four Years in a Boys' College

Olive San Louie Anderson
Edited by Elisabeth Israels Perry and Jennifer Ann Price
A historical novel about a young woman's challenges as a member of the first coeducational class at a major university


In 1870, the University of Michigan—one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious public universities in the United States—admitted its first woman student. An American Girl, and Her Four Years in a Boys' College , written by one of the first women graduates, and published pseudonymously in 1878, describes what it was like to be a member of this tiny group of brave coeds. The story is told through the eyes of Wilhelmine Elliot, an untraditional girl who enrolls at the fictional University of Ortonville, a thinly disguised stand-in for the University of Michigan.

Will's challenges mirror those of other women college students of the era, including the reactions of male faculty and students, relationships with other women students and with family and friends back home, and social attitudes toward the women's movement and liberal religious values. The editors' engaging introduction places the novel in its relevant historical and literary contexts, as do helpful annotations throughout the text.

Elisabeth Israels Perry is John Francis Bannon Professor of History, Saint Louis University.

Jennifer Ann Price is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at Saint Louis University.

Olive San Louie Anderson (ca. 1852-86) graduated from the University University of Michigan in 1875, and published An American Girl in 1878 under the name SOLA.

Praise / Awards

  • "This happy heroine represents a phase of American culture that deserves more historical attention, so one can only welcome this effectively edited volume with its extensive notes and relevant illustrations. Those interested in educational history and in the cultivation of gender equity in the U.S. will appreciate this relevant social document."

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Copyright © 2006, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 224pp.
  • 11 B&W photographs, 1 line drawing.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09916-0

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  • $94.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06916-3

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  • $28.95 U.S.