Like the city of Bethlehem, Moravian College is celebrating its 275th birthday.

There’s a reason Moravian’s tagline is “be a little revolutionary.”

Moravian College has its roots as the nation’s first school for women founded in 1742 by Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf, daughter of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf.

The countess herself was following a well-established Moravian tradition that dates back to John Amos Comenius, who wrote in 1632 that all children, regardless of gender or wealth, should be sent to school.

Made in Bethlehem: 275 years of innovation

The school later became the first boarding school for women — outside of convents — and had such a distinguished reputation that President George Washington petitioned the headmaster to admit his two great-nieces.

The Bethlehem Female Seminary, as the school became known, began granting college degrees in 1863 and in 1913 became Moravian Seminary and College for Women.

In 1954, the women’s college and men’s college merged to become the Lehigh Valley’s first coeducational institution of higher ed. The Moravian Theological Seminary is a separate graduate school of theology.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find on Facebook.

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