Although there were several seminaries called “colleges,” none offered an education at the level of a men’s college such as Harvard.
The closest to a women’s college was Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts, opened by Mary Lyon in 1837.
Young women from all economic groups were invited to apply to Mount Holyoke, but they had to pass a difficult exam to get in. They then spent three years studying grammar, algebra, geography, history, science, and other subjects.
Just one year after the school opened, almost 500 women applied for 80 places.
Mary Lyon raised much of the money to start Mount Holyoke from small contributions from women.