exercise with staff

Smart Women, Strong bodies

Advocates of education for women felt compelled to prove that the college experience did not destroy the students' health. Respected doctors like Mary Putnam Jacobi, a professor at the Women's Medical College of New York, countered Clarke's anecdotal accounts with statistics-based studies.

"There is nothing in the nature of menstruation to imply the necessity, or even the desirability, of rest, for women whose nutrition is really normal. The habit of periodical rest, in them, might indeed easily become injurious…. Many cases of pelvic congestion, developed in healthy but indolent and luxurious women, are often due to no other cause."

Mary Putnam Jacobi
The Question of Rest for Women During Menstruation
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1886

Professional organizations, such as the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, conducted surveys and issued reports that emphatically contradicted what Clarke said.

"The facts…would seem to warrant the assertion…that the seeking of a college education on the part of women does not in itself necessarily entail a loss of health or serious impairment of the vital forces.
The graduates, as a body, entered college in good health, passed through the course of study prescribed without material change in health, and since graduation, by reason of the effort required to gain a higher education, do not seem to have become unfitted to meet the responsibilities or bear their proportionate share of the burdens of life."

"Health Statistics of Women College Graduates"
Association of Collegiate Alumnae
May 16, 1885

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