In 1908, the institution was founded as the Fredericksburg State Normal and Industrial School for Women alongside the Harrisonburg State Normal and Industrial School for Women, which is now James Madison University.
In 1924, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that changed the names of normal schools to teachers colleges, which changed the Fredericksburg State Normal and Industrial School for Women to the State Teachers College at Fredericksburg. According to the June 1924 State Teachers College Bulletin, the name change was to "conform to the character of the work done" and so "that its students may enjoy the prestiege due to the college name, and that the public school system of the state may reap the benefit of the services of teachers who are graduates of a Standard Teachers College" (20).
By 1938, the institution had more liberal arts courses and was giving out liberal arts, professional, vocational, and technical degrees, so a name change was deemed necessary, according to the January 1938 Mary Washington College Bulletin, "in order that the name might conform more nearly to the type of service the institution had been rendering for several years, and to honor Mary, the Mother of George Washington, whose life was closely associated with Fredericksburg" (19). The institution became Mary Washington College.
The institution's name changed slightly, to Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, in 1944, when it became the University of Virginia's women college, "an integral part of the University system," according to the April 1944 Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia Bulletin (28). The decision to join the University of Virginia was approved on February 22, 1944 by the Virginia General Assembly.
In 1972, following multiple reports—including the 1965 Russel Report, a 1967 report by the Alumnae Association's Status Study Commission, a report by the Committee on the Future of the College, and a 1971 self study report—that suggested that Mary Washington faced some disadvantages from the arrangement and would benefit from independence, and the University of Virginia's decision to become co-ed, Mary Washington no longer needed affiliation with the University of Virginia, reverting from Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia back to Mary Washington College.
According to William Crawley's University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008, as the institution added graduate programs and a second campus in Stafford County, and was reclassified as a master's level university in 2002 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it became necessary to rename the institution to reflect its offerings. The Mary Washington College Image and Name Commitee recommended the name Washington and Monroe University to the Board of Visitors, but the proposed name faced backlash and little support. Only July 1, 2004, Mary Washington College officially became the University of Mary Washington.
1801 College Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22401