“Regular debate, Ques. Res’d, That both sexes should be educated together…. Roll-call for merits of the question. Decided in favor of the negative…. Miss Thurston voted on and admitted on payment of dues.” –Records of Edward Everett Literary Society meeting, Sept. 24, 1875
The first female student known to have studied at MAC was Louise Mellicent Thurston, who enrolled as part of the Select Class in the fall of 1875. (The spelling of Thurston’s name is not consistent in college publications, which sometimes give her first name as Louisa and her middle name as Meliscent.) The Annual Report of 1869 envisions non-traditional students in the Select program: “As students of this class will generally be mature, industrious and specially interested in the departments of agriculture and horticulture, their influence upon the members of the regular classes, under suitable management, will be of a desirable character.”
Thurston, from Lynn, Mass., boarded in North Street. Although university records do not make the connection, it appears likely Thurston was the Louise M. Thurston who published several works for children, including Forrest Mills (Sunday School Society), between 1868 and 1872. She joined the Edward Everett Literary Society, a literary and debating club, and first appears in the society’s records when her membership was proposed on September 10. Two weeks later, she was accepted. It is unclear how active a member she was; her last appearance in the society’s records is in the entry dated October 1, 1875: “Treasurer reported that Miss Thurston had paid her dues, and was therefore admitted, and the secretary was notified to place her name on the roll-call…. Then came the Regular Debate, Ques, Res’d, That women are more given to revenge than men.”
Thurston stayed at the college for a year before becoming a teacher. She is listed among non-graduating alumni as living at 5 Bickford Street in Lynn.