September 26, 1865
Vassar Female College opened with 353 students—including a Civil War widow—between the ages of 15 and 24. The annual fee for tuition and residence was $350. The faculty numbered 30: ten professors, of whom two were women, and 20 women as assistant teachers. John H. Raymond was president and professor of mental and moral philosophy, and Hannah W. Lyman was lady principal.
The other professors were: William I. Knapp, ancient and modern languages; Charles S. Farrar, mathematics, natural philosophy and chemistry; Sanborn Tenney, natural history, including geology and mineralogy, botany, zoology, and physical geography; Maria Mitchell, astronomy; Alida C. Avery, physiology and hygiene, also resident physician; Henry B. Buckham, rhetoric, belles‑lettres, and the English language; Edward Wiebé, vocal and instrumental music; Henry Van Ingen, painting and drawing.
The extracollegiate departments included the School of Vocal and Instrumental Music and the School of Design. Preparatory courses were offered in addition to the regular curriculum. The college buildings consisted of the Main Building, the Observatory, the Gate House and the Boiler and Gas House.
Speaking in 1927 to Alumnae at reunion, one of the first students and one of the first four to graduate, in 1867, Harriet Warner Bishop recalled the conclusion of the college's first day as the entire college gathered in the chapel in Main Building. "I will never forget," she said, "the expression on Mr. Vassar's face, as he realized what had come to pass." The Miscellany News