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Young Ladies Seminary

Founded in 1852 as the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia, California, Mills College boasts a rich history as a leader in women's education. Mills was founded two years after California was admitted to statehood and the same year the city of Oakland was established. The University of California and Stanford had yet to exist, and miners, farmers, and merchants wanted to educate their daughters without sending them on the perilous journey to East Coast schools.

A group of residents decided on an innovative solution by establishing the Young Ladies' Seminary in their own town. For two and a half years, the institutions' trustees managed the school until 1855, when management passed to Oberlin graduate Mary Atkins. Under Atkins' tenure, the school gained a strong reputation. With a vision of equal education and opportunity for women, missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865 for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and moved it in 1871 to its current 135-acre oasis. At the time, Oakland was a bustling metropolis of about 10,000.

Presidents of Mills College

Mary Atkins

Mary Atkins
Principal, Young Ladies' Seminary

Homer Baxter Sprague

2. Homer Baxter Sprague

Susan Tolman Mills

4. Susan Tolman Mills

Aurelia Henry Reinhardt

6. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt

C. Easton Rothwell

8. C. Easton Rothwell

Barbara McClure White

10. Barbara McClure White

Janet L. Holmgren

12. Janet L. Holmgren

Cyrus Mills

1. Cyrus Taggart Mills

Charles Carroll Stratton

3. Charles Carroll Stratton

Luella Carson

5. Luella Clay Carson

Lynn Townsend White Jr.

7. Lynn Townsend White Jr.

Robert Joseph Wert

9. Robert Joseph Wert

Mary Metz

11. Mary S. Metz

 Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

13. Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

Last Updated: 7/5/16