Thursday, July 11, 2013


Where the Girls Were: A 1965 Taxonomy of Coeds

Inside the hallowed halls of Princeton University, an elite group of service-minded young newspaper editors spent much of 1965 laboring over a single question: where are the girls? And if and when you do come across one, what exactly are you supposed to do with her?

After years (days? hours?) of romantic toil, they compiled the results of their selfless lady-scouting into Where The Girls Are: A Social Guide to Women’s Colleges in the East, a field manual for finding and identifying The Girls in their natural environment. The collection is what John Audubon would have produced if John Audubon really, really wanted to have sex with birds. Not that the Princeton eds. can ensure warblers and/or Smithies for everyone: "Girls may not melt in your arms on sight, and butter may still melt in your mouth on contact: this is a book, not a magic incantation."

But it’s worth a shot, because these dates aren't gonna "snow" themselves, if you know what I mean. (I don't know what I mean. Do you know what I mean?) So let’s slip into something a little more comfortable—a dinner jacket and a skinny tie, perhaps?—and let’s go girl-hunting across the east coast women's colleges of 1965.

Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA:

That’s the great hang-up for Holyoke girls: they all want to be Smithies. The Holyoke inferiority complex is difficult to comprehend, considering that Smith is best known as the home of the world’s first women’s basketball team, but the neurosis is there.

Briarcliff College, Briarcliff, NY:

Where does the Ethel Walker or Dobbs graduate who never worked too hard, but had a good time doing it, go to college? She doesn't; she goes to Briarcliff. 

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY:

Pierced ears may still be in vogue, but on the whole both intellectual and social snobbism have gone the way of crinoline, and informal dress and manner are the order of the day.

Beaver College, Glendale, PA:

One girl writes: ‘we enjoy dating, and boys enjoy dating us.’ No one is quite sure why.

If you're tired of bars (or you can't get served), try relaxing at the Philadelphia Zoo. Intoned one girl: "we LOVE animals."

Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA:

Foreign films are well-known, well-attended, and presumably well liked.

Connecticut College, New London, CT:

They are socially oriented and not overly intellectual, but they can carry an interesting conversation, and they’re looking for a good time. They tend to be bright and attractive. They are casual, like to wear sandals and long hair, but they’re neither beat nor off-beat. 

Goucher College, Towson, MD:

There are four places to snow a Goucherite: the first, and most difficult, is the woods immediately adjoining the campus; the second, and least satisfactory, is the campus itself, and the third and fourth are Baltimore and Washington.

Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA:

Most men who find their way to Sweet Briar don’t make it back for their Monday classes. [Sweet Briar girls are] pretty, placid and promising. But the three P’s don’t come cheap—unless a man is “really a superstud,” with an impressive appearance and a proper school name, he will have trouble finding a girl on the spot. If you still want to try, freshmen are your best chance…

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY:

If you aren’t prepared to compete with the best the big city has to offer a hip, lovely young woman, maybe you’d better forget it. If you are ready to make this scene, Sarah Lawrence is the place.

Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA:

They dress well, but you always picture them in a kilt or a shift.

Unfortunately for the enterprising Princetonians, the tactical guide did not go unnoticed by its intended targets. “Please be careful where you step while walking around the campus,” wrote Vassar College’s Miscellany News in a brisk review on November 3, 1965. "That orange and black snake-in-the-grass may be a Princeton boy.”

The basic premise of the book,” the Miscellany deadpanned, “is that the college man is irresistible":

Despite the disclaimer in the preface—“This is a book, not a magic incantation”—there is an unspoken assumption that anyone who can manage to get himself to a women’s college will be able to pick up a date: the book is sprinkled with hints on the best places to find “single” girls. We are in favor of initiative, but we have a picture of thousands of collegiate wooers, inspired by a touching faith in a suave and successful folk-hero concocted by the editors of the Daily Princetonian, all descending on the campuses of the eastern women’s colleges confident of finding girls—and frankly, we shudder.


We have nothing but praise for the altruism that led the Princetonian to come to the aid of ill-informed but ever-hopeful men who lack access to Princeton’s sources of information. We compliment the lads in orange and black on their gallantry in characterizing all the women’s colleges with equal dispassion. In return, the least we can do is offer Vassar’s impression of Princeton. The consensus here is that a weekend on the beautiful Princeton campus is one long struggle for honor and virtue, and that girls who don’t like to be mauled should stay away from tigers.



Rachel Sugar is a writer in New York.

65 Comments / Post A Comment

Setec Astrology

Nice. Some might say that a weekend--or any time, really--on the Princeton campus is still "one long struggle for honor and virtue," but for different reasons.


I feel like the end of the Vassar article should end with :drops the olden timey microphone:


Wait, I really need to know what they said about Smith. Other than our basketball team...were we still the Smith College Virgins at that point? Or had we progressed to the unicorns?? I have so many questions.

Hot Doom

@NormaDesmond YES! Another inquiring Smithie mind here. What of the Virgins and our pond of Paradise!?!


@Norma Desmond @Hot Doom Co-signed!


@Hot Doom Check the awesome schematic of Smith campus in the article- the boys included a Marauders Map for prospective romantic questers!

signed, an Ethel Walker/Smith gold star who clearly knew where the girls were

Hot Doom

@flapadactyl The map is great, but...I would love to know what ridiculous things they said about us, or if we just floated daintily above the MoHo neuroses and they had nothing to report back.


@NormaDesmond @Hot Doom @flapadactyl Smith 'Pinners represent!


@NormaDesmond Yeah, not sure how anyone thought they were writing this article without listing what they said about Smith.


It's a minimalist description, to be sure, but the Bryn Mawr one is right on point.


@stonefruit Seconded. I do remember hearing something about this publication before, and based on the document's reputation, I thought that the (full, presumably longer) description was more offensive than this.


@stonefruit I'll say!

Update: Mount Holyoke no longer wants to be Smith. Still very neurotic. Best described as "Island of Misfit Toys." Baller science building. Lots of gender-neutral bathrooms.
Moho '08


@S. Elizabeth S. Elizabeth MOHO I took classes there just for the excuse to be on campus. Wasn't it the site of the invention of volleyball? isn't that at least as exciting as basketball?

@Amphora Nope, Volleyball was invented by William G. Morgan in the city of Holyoke, right down the road. (MHC is in South Hadley). The Princeton men got it wrong with Smith/basketball, too -- basketball was invited in Springfield, not at Smith College.


@S. Elizabeth oh yeah, I GUARANTEE I am more neurotic now than I was when I started at MHC! yeah neuroses!


@S. Elizabeth It was invented in Springfield but Smith had the first women's team.


@S. Elizabeth Definitely more neurotic. Agree on the science building(s). Additional key feature: synchronized canoeing. I bet you know my sister. Signed, Moho '05 (sister of Moho '09).


@S. Elizabeth '07! Woohoo! Just saying hi :)

@Titania <3 ELF!

@narwhalsandwich Oh man I am so neurotic.

Boss: "Let's talk."
Me: "Is this good talking or bad talking?"
Boss: "It's great talking! How are you? Let's just catch up!"
*breathes into paper bag for an hour*


Sorry, I am twelve, and still not over "Beaver College."


I know, right?


'And those girls at state schools are best ignored. She may seem fun and flirty, but there's a good chance her mother was your wet nurse. Very good source for whipping boys though if you are a fan of theater.'


There is just no reason to resort to subterfuge or tactical campaigns to get laid in college (or ever). It's college. Everyone is climbing-up-the-walls horny. If you take a shower, go out to bars and parties, and don't be a dick, you almost certainly will get laid with some frequency.

Of course, the real goal of writing this was to garner a bunch of high-fives from the bros, so my point is a bit moot.

Lily Rowan

@Emby But in 1965, there were no girls/boys on campus! Depending on your campus.


@Emby YMMV. Mine did.

Lily Rowan

@Lu2 But Princeton was all-male until 1969, and obviously Smith (et al.) are still all-female.


@Lily Rowan I was addressing the idea that college is a free-and-easy sexual funfest for everyone who wants it to be.

Lily Rowan

@Lu2 Oops! I could have read who you were actually replying to, eh?

@Lu2 That is not actually how it was back then. Curfews, house mothers, rules about who could and could not be in one's dorm, etc.


@S. Elizabeth I think you might have meant to address Emby. I was only replying to Emby to insert my bitterness about my own college experience (and some annoyance at the stereotype that college is socially rewarding for anyone/everyone). My college was pretty studious, it was a women's college, and pretty much no one had boyfriends even if they really wanted them.

@Lu2 Yes! Emby, read what I wrote.

Lily Rowan

@Lu2 In my coed college experience, getting laid was way easier than getting a boyfriend, for what that's worth.


FYI, Beaver College (now Arcadia University) is in Glenside, PA. and no, i still haven't gotten over it, even though they changed their name at least 7 or 8 years ago.


If I have learned anything from spending times in bars in Princeton, it's that Princeton students are boring as hell.

Lily Rowan

I need to see the whole thing of this!


Indeed, Vassar FTW! I would love to see more of this too.


@callheralaska I got exactly what you are saying. Lenskart Coupons


As a lady historian, I can report Barnard was not included in the Princeton guide. Snub or blessing in disguise?


The original guide for PUAs (Princeton Undergrad Assholes)

@stuffisthings The Brosephood of the Traveling Douches.


Love this. I mean, it's weird and sexist, but the same part of me that loves the Official Preppy Handbook, Take Ivy, and The Secret History eats this stuff up with a spoon.


How is that girl who's skateboarding barefoot going to stop herself?


@Lu2 I don't know, but she is jaunty as all get-out.


@planforamiracle Wheeee! Skate till you run out of momentum (and not a moment sooner, ouchy).

@Lu2 She'll do a running dismount and let the now unmanned skateboard hit a Princeton man in the shins. :)

Lisa Frank

"I hear the girls at NYU aren't at all particular."


Does the guide go any further south than Sweet Briar though? Inquiring minds, whose women's college beat Princeton in College Bowl in 1966, want to know.

- Fang, Agnes Scott College '07

Princess Slaya

@Fang Probably not, and I am happy/sad about it.
ASC - '05!
(I'm a few days late, I'm backlogged in my blog reading this week)


Looking into this book, I came across this reference, and based on the publication date, I can only hope it is the united response this book so richly deserves:

"Latham, J.A. Where the boys are .Compiled by the editors of the Smith College Sophian and Mount Holyoke News, Amherst, MA: Amherst Pub. Corp. c1966, MHC Archives (MHCASC)"

Hot Doom

@TheLetterL HA! I would love to see this!


"If all the girls at Vassar were laid end to end, I wouldn't be surprised." - Dorothy Parker

Scary Wollstonecraft

I LOVE the three women in the drawing of 'Holyoke/Bryn/Sarah Lawrence.' I know they're supposed to be caricatures, especially Ms. Bryn Mawr, but I find them all equally compelling...


As far as rank objectification of women goes, this guide is surprisingly tame. "They are casual, like to wear sandals and long hair, but they’re neither beat nor off-beat." There's even a recommendation to check out the Philadelphia zoo, for heaven's sake. Not a LOL or misspelled obscenity to be seen.


I went to Goucher! Of course it was coed by the time I was there, but the woods around campus still saw a lot of action, as did the fields with the horse jumps (our only Div 1 sport).


@anotherkate Woo, go gophers!


@queequeging class of 2004 here, how about you?

christopher hart

christopher hart - But There was no girls/boys on campus in 1965!


i'll have to re-look at that site once i find my glasses, all that yellowy is giving me a headache. i love that first comic girls glorious white hair cape. Thanks for sharing tips.
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