Religious Life

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The entrace to the chapel of Trinity University's Woodlawn campus, which Trinity inherited from the merger with University of San Antonio (c. 1950)

The San Antonio Female College was chartered by the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1896. Thus, all decisions regarding major changes to the institution were subject to the final approval of the Church. The Methodists remained in control of the school until the merger with Presbyterian-affiliated Trinity University in 1942. Throughout its years of Methodist affiliation, the school emphasized the importance of a Christian education and maintained a good relationship with Methodist churches in the area. The Methodist influence was certainly felt by the students, who had to uphold several requirements in line with Methodist values.

The involvement of the Methodist Church in the establishment of the San Antonio Female College greatly influenced the daily academic and social lives of students. Parents, faculty, regional religious leaders, and students alike valued the emphasis on Christian development and education. In the early years of the college, students were required to take Bible classes and attend Sunday School in order to complete any degree. While students did engage in secular social activities, religion played a large role in the social lives of students. For example, students attended services at churches around San Antonio as a class, which allowed them to escape the bubble of campus life. 

The Methodist Church prescribed a very rigorous and strict outline of “Christian womanhood” and moral values in the San Antonio Female College in the early 20th century. The school’s affiliation with the Church impacted the staff and students' daily lives by setting precedents and rules to conform them to these religious standards. Women were especially targeted by the school’s rigid standard for uniform and their discouragement of female interactions with males at any time, especially on school grounds. These standards defined a woman’s moral value in collegiate society at the time.