A large number of social, demographic, and other factors converged in the mid-to-late 1940s to place women's colleges in the United States in an awkward, if not precarious, position. The dominant cultural conditions and values of this early “post-feminist” era were at odds with many of the core values and traditions of such long-established and respected institutions as Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges. Since their respective foundings in 1837, 1875, and 1875, these colleges have been variously characterized as pioneers in women's education, unique communities of women nurturing women and women's scholarship, dangerous centers of feminist and other radical ideas, anachronistic holdovers from a bygone era, endangered institutions marking time until they become co-educational, and leaders in feminist scholarship. Choosing not to follow the example of Vassar, which opened its doors to men in 1968, these colleges and a few others like them survived the difficult years when the “Ivy League” colleges first admitted women. Today there is not much question about their reputation or permanence, yet in the post-World War II era their future was not as secure.