Latin for "in the place of parents," in loco parentis was a doctrine that American colleges and universities began adopting as early as the 1800s that involved the implementation of increasingly strict rules and regulations, known as "parietals," meant to ensure the success of students and ease the qualms of parents allowing their children to leave home. Though these rules existed at both men's and women's schools (see Spelman below), the concept of in loco parentis became almost ubiquitous between the 1940s and 1960s, when formerly all-male schools slowly opened their doors to women and the need to keep a strict eye on the sexes and maintain women's propriety became the primary focus of school administrators. Thus, while male students were allowed to dress as they pleased, study where they pleased, move off campus, drink, smoke, and throw parties, female students were subjected to strict curfews and dress codes, constant monitoring and supervision, and harsh punishment for even the most minor violations of these endless rules. Here are some gems from private and public colleges and universities across the country:

Bucknell University

  • In 1930, the Women's Student Senate issued a six-month dating ban to 40 women who confessed to smoking in their rooms

Middlebury College

  • Women were not allowed to drink or smoke on or off campus

Oberlin College

  • Men could only visit women's dormitories between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. on Sundays
  • When men were permitted to visit a woman in her room, the door had to be kept open at least 12 inches
  • If a man and a woman were meeting in a dormitory, three feet had to be on the ground at all times
  • Women had an 8:30 p.m. curfew during the week and had to get a signed permission slip if they were studying late

Ohio University

  • Women were required to wear hats and gloves to their Sunday noon meal
  • Women who accumulated more than 10 "late minutes" (by missing curfew) were confined to their bedrooms for two weekends and were not allowed phone calls or visitors 
  • The School of Business did not accept women graduates because faculty members didn't think they could do math

Rollins College

  • Women had to make their beds by 12 p.m. for daily room inspections
  • Women were not allowed to leave their rooms before 6 a.m.
  • Men could not visit women's dormitories before 10:30 a.m. and were only allowed to meet women in public areas

Spelman College

  • Lights-out at this all-women's school was 10 p.m. during the week
  • Students were not allowed to wear slacks
  • A strict dress code monitored which hairstyles were acceptable and how much makeup and jewelry women were allowed to wear
  • Regardless of her religion, all students were required to attend chapel daily
  • Students could only visit their parents once every six weeks

Photo from Lynn Peril's "College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Co-Ed, Then and Now."

University of Florida

  • Faculty members were allowed to ask women not to wear Bermuda shorts to class during the third trimester (the only time during the year that women could wear Bermuda shorts instead of dresses or skirts)
  • Although their weekday curfew was 10:30 p.m., women had to provide detailed information to their dormitory manager or house mother if they wanted to leave their room after 7:30 p.m.

University of Kansas

  • From the 1953-54 edition of KU's Women's Handbook: “since none of us like to be ‘caught’ with p.j.’s, pinned-up hair, or cold-creamed faces, we have specified calling hours for men."

University of Michigan

  • Women could not wear Bermuda shorts in the library
  • Dinner at residence hall cafeterias included a dress code permitting only skirts and dresses
  • All women students, regardless of their year, were required to live in a residence hall, a sorority or a League House (a University-owned boarding house) throughout the entirety of their education, while men were allowed to move off campus

University of Missouri

  • In 1961, women were banned from wearing the following in their dormitory cafeterias and lounges: hair curlers, bandanas, scarves, kerchiefs, hairnets, slacks, and shorts
  • Until 1962, women who accumulated more than 20 late minutes were grounded to their rooms all day for several days

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Freshman women were limited to three out-of-town trips (no more than six overnights) during the academic year
  • Women had to sign in and out of their dormitories each time they came and went
  • Weekend trips, day trips and evening engagements outside of Chapel Hill requires permission slips signed by a woman's parents that included the time and place of the trip, as well as the name and contact information of a chaperone
  • Women's dormitories had closed study hours between 7 and 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and students could only sign out to study somewhere else, like the library, once per week
  • Women were not allowed in a man's off-campus housing unless two other couples were present