The University Historian at the University of Florida recently contacted us with an interesting research request regarding Florida State College for Women. In his research, the University Historian found evidence that a woman, Mary Alexander Daiger, graduated from the University of Florida in 1920. This is odd because, in 1905, Florida passed the Buckman Act, which designated UF as the state university for male students. The same act designated FSU’s predecessor institution, Florida State College for Women, as the state university for female students. It wasn’t until 1947 that both schools became fully coeducation. Daiger was able to graduate from UF pre-coeducation because of the Summer School Act, which in 1913, brought summer courses under the control of the state university system. By design, these courses were coeducational and allowed for men and women to attend either university during the summer.
Given the shared history and similar circumstances of UF and FSU, the University Historian wondered if there was ever a male graduate of Florida State College of Women.
Heritage & University Archives staff began looking through summer issues of the student newspaper, the Florida Flambeau. While reading the articles, it became apparent that male students were definitely taking advantage of the classes offered. Staff members of the Flambeau reported on how many male students were on campus, where they were located after they were allowed to stay in the dorms and any humorous encounters that resulted from their presence. But for the most part, names of the male students weren’t listed in those articles.
During the summer issues for several years, the Flambeau listed all of the students eligible for graduation for that semester. Unfortunately, we ran into a major problem at this juncture, because the Flambeau did not list whether the student was male or female. We chose, based on name, the most likely students to be male and sent the names along to the Office of the Registrar to see if any of them did, in fact, graduate.
When the Registrar replied, we learned that our process for selecting names was as inaccurate as we thought. Some of the candidates had sorority affiliations listed on their records and so were crossed off our list. More often, the candidate for graduation did not actually graduate. However, we were able to confirm that there was at least one male graduate of Florida State College for Women: Clarence Patrick Priest. Priest earned his Masters of Arts in Education in 1938 from Florida State College for Women. He stayed on to teach at the school after his graduation.
Know of any other men who graduated from Florida State College for Women? We’d love to know about any of our other graduates. You can contact the Heritage & University Archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.