The Muhlenberg Memories Project

Two Colleges

In 1867, as Muhlenberg College was established under the administration of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States, female students in Allentown found themselves without an educational institution. During this post-war period, colleges for women began to proliferate: Wells College for Women, Wilson College, Smith, and Wellesley all were founded between 1868 and 1875.

It was in this period that leaders in the Reformed Church in Allentown sought to continue female education, this time at the collegiate level; initial efforts were made to organize a female department of Muhlenberg College, under the control of the Reformed Church. Rev. Samuel Philips, an instructor at Muhlenberg and member of the Reformed community, led this effort, which proved unsuccessful. Ultimately, Rev. William R. Hofford, a Reformed minister and a graduate of the Allentown Seminary and its Principal for five years, was the first official President of the Allentown Female College.

Over the course of the next century, many made reference to the “gentlemen’s agreement” that led to the Lutheran Church having control of Muhlenberg, the men’s college, while the Reformed Church founded the Allentown Female College (now Cedar Crest College). The first classes were held on September 5, 1867—one day after the first classes of the newly-christened Muhlenberg College.