In 1944, the first class of women students migrated to Princeton Seminary, when the Seminary merged with the Tennent School of Christian Education. This was sixteen years after Muriel Van Orden Jennings, the first female student to graduate from PTS, began her studies at Princeton. Jennings’s experience was that of a lone woman on campus, as was the experience of Eileen Bergsten Remington a decade later. Yet when Princeton Seminary merged with the Tennent School of Christian Education (previously located in Philadelphia), an entire class of about thirty to forty women arrived in Princeton, greatly changing the dynamics of the Seminary campus. These women, who lived in Tennent Hall (the only housing on campus for women) were working toward their master’s degrees in religious education (MRE), which would prepare them for careers in Christian education. This was before the time when women were allowed to be ordained as pastors in the Presbyterian denomination.women-firstclass.jpg

In 1947, the first class of women MRE students graduated. The graduates included: Ethel Cassel Driskill, Rith Gittel Gard, Evelyn Lytle, Anne Marie Melrose, Marion Stout Wilson, and Mary Kathryn Troupe Healey. Living together in Tennent Hall, the women formed close relationships with one another, but they often felt socially isolated from the rest of campus, particularly because they could not join the male-dominated eating clubs. Yet women found other ways to create social groups, and often organized events on campus.

With a cohort of women on campus, the Seminary soon began hiring women faculty. The first of these female faculty members—Jean Cassat Christman and Harriet Prichard, were hired in the 1950’s to teach Christian education classes. The arrival of the Tennent School of Education opened the door for women to enter into religious education and other forms of ministry.