John Raymond published Vassar College. A College for Women in Poughkeepsie, N. Y.: A Sketch of Its Foundation, Aims, and Resources, and of the Development of Its Scheme of Instruction to the Present Time, "a report of the college’s first seven years, prepared at the request of the U.S. Commissioner of Education to be presented at the World Exhibition in Vienna.”
Raymond discussed all elements of the college’s founding and gave a detailed presentation of its curriculum, methods of study and funding in the college’s first seven years.
James Orton published The Liberal Education of Women: the Demand and the Method: Current Thoughts in American and England. The collection of 36 essays surveyed the issues—from single-sex versus coeducational education to current questions of health and community fabric—and offered essays on the experiences at seven American colleges and universities and at six institutions in England, Ireland and Scotland. An appendix presented a summary essay by one of the contributors to the volume, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, along with extended comments on it by Louis Agassiz, Harvard President Charles W. Eliot, and Wendell Phillips. Orton’s volume remained an important assessment for many years.
In his essay on the experience at Vassar, Orton noted: “It has been doubted whether a true collegiate standard could be maintained in a woman’s college. It has been done at Vassar for eight years; and the Faculty have yet to receive a petition for a lower standard.”
At the invitation of Maria Mitchell, the English women’s rights activist Emily Faithfull, a publisher and the editor of The Victoria Magazine, lectured at Vassar. Faithfull returned to the college in April 1883, and she compared her two visits in Three Visits to America (1884). Of this first view of the college, she said, "I was not prepared for the beauthiful surroundings of the college, which is charmingly situated on the banks of the magnificent Hudson river, with the Catskill mountains stretching along the north and the Fishkills on the south." While she regretted, on her later visit, the closing of Vassar’s riding school—“’Want of funds’ was the reason assigned”—she found “the life of these bright and enthusiastic girls” enviable in almost every way. She also offered in this essay a moving portrait of Maria Mitchell: “As you look into that strong, good face, shadowed by grey curls, which soften its outline and grace it with a beauty which often comes with age, you can understand the magnetic sympathy which holds her youthful scholars spellbound, and makes their scientific investigations full of delight as well as of wonder.”
Emily Faithfull's Victoria Magazine reprinted Professor James Orton’s essay about his work at Vassar from The Liberal Education of Women (1873) and what Faithfull calleld, "a remarkable paper," Maria Mitchell’s address to the American Association for the Advancement of Women’s 1876 congress on “The Need for Women in Science.”
Starting in 1873, the date for the annual Founder’s Day observances was set at the Friday closest to April 29, Matthew Vassar’s birthday. Phillips Brooks, Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, gave the Founder's Day address on "Discipleship of Life."
Reportage by The New York Times of Vassar’s Commencement was notably breezy. The “special correspondent” noted, “President Raymond delivered the Baccalaureate sermon at Vassar, on Sunday. To-night [June 23] there is to be a grand musical soirée in the chapel, to-morrow is Class Day, and on Wednesday is Commencement proper.”
The report further observed that the “health of the pupils was never better than now, which may account for the fact that last month, notwithstanding the fact that Vassar owns twenty cows, the milk bill was over $400. And I may add that the butcher’s bill was $1,500! Does not that speak well for the physical capacity of the pupils?”
The telegraph line of Western Union was extended to the college. The wires entered at the north end of the building, passed through the first corridor close to the ceiling, and into the college office where a lady operator was in constant attendance. "We hear that she sends, on an average, seven or eight messages daily, and probably receives more. The students cannot fail to appreciate highly the change from the old annoying and sometimes agonizing delays, to the present promptness and dispatch." Vassar Miscellany.
President Raymond's daughter, Mary, a graduate in the Class of 1873, was married in the Chapel to William J. Richardson. When Dr. Raymond's elder daughter, Harriet, had married Harlan P. Lloyd in 1869, the students were given only a half-holiday. Mary demanded and gained for them a whole holiday.
Speaking to the first congress of the American Association for the Advancement of Women, in New York City, Maria Mitchell declared, “Public sentiment does not yet require learning in women, society is decidedly opposed to it; and however public sentiment may be construed, ‘society’ is decidedly fashioned by women. It belongs to women themselves to introduce a better order of things.”
Mitchell helped found the association, of which she was president from 1874 until 1876.
Maria Mitchell, “The Higher Education of Women,” Papers and Letters Presented at the First Woman’s Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women