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' leadership, the school gained a strong reputation. Inspired by a vision of equal education and opportunity for women, missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865, renamed it Mills College, and moved the campus in 1871 to our current home in Oakland, California.