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International Institute for Girls in Spain (Instituto Internacional)

The International Institute for Girls in Spain evolved out of a school founded by a Protestant missionary in Santander, Spain, in 1877. The Institute was incorporated in Massachusetts in 1892 as a non-denominational Christian organization “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining an institution for the education of girls in Spain.”

The following is a brief outline of the major events in the history of the IIGS. A published history of the early years of the Institute, Misioneras, feministas, educadoras: Historia del Instituto Internacional by Carmen de Zulueta (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1984), and other short histories in English and Spanish can be found in the records located in the Smith College Archives.

A chronology of events of the International Institute for Girls in Spain is listed below.  A description of the organization’s records can be found at:

Chronology of major events in the history of the IIGS.

1871 Alice Gordon Gulick and her husband William go to Spain to establish a Protestant mission under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). They settle in Santander.
1875 Alice Gordon Gulick organizes a day school to teach reading and writing to sons and daughters of mission church members.
1877 Alice Gordon Gulick founds a boarding school with the aim of training young Spanish women to become teachers in Protestant mission schools. The school consists of 5 pupils. The Women’s Board of Missions (WBM) of the ABCFM agrees to support the school and help provide teachers.
1881 The Gulicks move the school to San Sebastian where it is known as the Colegio Norteamericano. Alice Gordon Gulick starts a series of appeals for outside funds to establish a women’s college in Spain along the lines of her alma mater, Mt. Holyoke.
1888 Two teachers establish a school library ‘to cultivate a taste for books’ among the students.
1890 Some students in the school begin training for university level study by preparing to pass the state exam for a secondary degree (bachillerato).
1892 To secure legal right to own property and conduct a school, the International Institute for Girls in Spain is incorporated in Massachusetts.
1898-1903 The International Institute moves across the French border to Biarritz during the Spanish-American War.
1902 The IIGS Corporation purchases a house in Madrid (at Fortuny 53) to establish the school on a permanent basis where it can collaborate more closely with Spanish educational reformers.
1903 The Institute moves to Madrid. Alice Gordon Gullck dies on September 24. The International Institute League is formed in the U.S. as an adjunct to the Corporation to continue Mrs. Gulick-‘s fund-raising efforts. The Corporation and the WBM divide the school into two departments supported and administered separately. The WBM funds the Normal Department for Spanish Girls which provides the first three years of training and continues the work of the evangelical school. The Corporation provides the last three years of training in the Collegiate Department preparing its students for university-level study. A permanent fund is established for the library which is given its own room.
1904 Work is begun on a building at Miguel Angel 8 to be known as Alice Gordon Gulick Memorial Hall. The Institute establishes a course to prepare students to study music in a conservatory. The Institute inaugurates a series of lectures by leading intellectuals.
1906 The two departments are separated into two distinct schools. The evangelical school becomes the Colegio Internacional para Senoritas with Anna F. Webb as director and WBM funding. The university preparatory school is known as the llGS with Bertha C. Bidwell as director and funding from the IIGS Corporation and the International Institute League. William H. Gulick serves as rector for both schools.
1910 Alice Gordon Gulick Memorial Hall is completed: The Colegio Internacional para Senoritas moves to Barcelona. Susan Huntington is appointed Director of the IIGS.
1916 The Junta para Ampliacion de Estudios e Investigaciones Cientificas (Board for the Promotion of Historical Research and Scientific Investigation), a group established by the state to promote education, presents the Corporation with a proposal for collaboration.
1917 As a war measure, the IIGS agrees to collaborate with the Junta as a 3-year experiment. The two IIGS buildings (Fortuny 53 and Miguel Angel 8) are leased to the Junta for the use of the Residencia de Senoritas (a residence and center for women university students) and the Instituto-Escuela (a co-educational elementary and secondary school founded as an experiment in modern educational methods). The IIGS supplies “a few,” American instructors to teach English, physical education, and science. These instructors, paid by the Corporation, are to “continue the American influence,” participate in academic policy making, run the library, and provide instruction in areas where it is otherwise unavailable in Spain. The IICS ceases to function as an autonomous entity.
1920 The University of Madrid agrees to give credit for laboratory work successfully completed at the Institute under the supervision of the American instructors. Labs are set up at the IIGS because the University has no lab space for women.
1924 As part of the collaboration, the libraries of the Residencia de Senoritas and IIGS are merged.
1925 The International Institute League (formed 1903) disbands.
1927 The building at Fortuny 53 is sold to the Junta for the use of the Residencia. A condition of the sale is that the building be used for the education of women. Library science courses are established at the Institute.
1928 The Instituto-Escuela moves to its own building leaving Miguel Angel 8 to the IIGS. Institute staff continues to collaborate with the Residencia teaching classes in English and library science.
1930 The IIGS agrees to rent space to Smith College’s newly established junior year in Spain program.
1936-39 The IIGS and the Residencia shut down during the Spanish Civil War.
1939-44 World War II. Miguel Angel 8 is under the care of the U.S. Embassy. The library of the IIGS remains open and the librarians continue to teach English and library science on a small scale. There is no American staff in Madrid. Though Mary Sweeney is the board-appointed Director, Enriqueta Martin acts as the Corporation’s representative in Spain. The Corporation uses its funds to subsidize schools in France and Mexico for Spanish refugee children under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee.
1944-50 Afraid of losing the building and unwilling to continue to cooperate with the Franco government, the IIGS rents Miguel Angel 8 to the U.S. Embassy for the storage of Embassy documents. The embassy offers to repair the building and provide space elsewhere in Madrid for the re-establishment of IIGS programs.
1946 The IIGS establishes its Foreign Scholars Program. Under this program the IIGS sponsors or helps to sponsor study in the U.S. and England for some of its most advanced students.
1947 Americans resume teaching English through the Institute.
1950 The IIGS moves back into Miguel Angel 8 and agrees to share the building with Colegio-Estudio, a private school established along the lines of the Instituto-Escuela. The IIGS administers its own programs in English and library science, provides English teachers for Colegio-Estudio, sponsors concerts, lectures, English-speaking teas, and exhibits, and rents space to other educational programs. A group of graduates of the library science program forms the Asociacion de Diplomados del Instituto Internacional (alumnae association). The children’s library is established as a separate entity in order to serve Colegio-Estuaio’s students and subsequently the general community.
1950s and 1960s The IIGS explores a variety of programs and activities of its own while renting space to various junior year abroad and graduate study programs from American colleges and universities.
1951 The Institute establishes extension courses in library science in other cities in Spain.
1952 The English Program is reorganized into two courses, one concentrating on the study of the English language and American civilization and literature, the other providing training in teaching English as a second language.
1967 Colegio-Estudio moves to its own building but retains offices in Miguel Angel 8.
1968 A development plan is prepared and foundation support is sought for an expansion of IIGS programs. The effort is, for the most part, unsuccessful.
1971- The Institute begins litigation to reclaim Fortuny 53 which is no longer being used for the education of women (a condition of the sale of the building in 1927).
1979 Faced with financial and legal problems, the Institute reduces its activities. The library science program is taken over by Spanish universities, the University of Southern California assumes administration of the English Program, and the Psychology program is reduced to a few courses.
1980 The Corporation votes to cease operations in Madrid as of June 30, 1981. This decision is never carried out.
1985 The University of Southern California English Program closes. The IIGS votes to re-establish its own English program. The Freshman Year Program is established to prepare Spanish students to transfer to American colleges and universities to study for an undergraduate degree.

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