Historians have written about the opening of Vassar College in 1865 as a turning point in higher education for women, giving the impression that little of importance in the women’s college movement occurred before then. Oxford was home to three female educational institutions from 1855 to 1867, and they exemplify the variations existing in higher education for women in the middle of the nineteenth century. Exploring the interactions and relationships among the three Oxford schools reveals how class differences and local competition shaped the development of higher education for women. Until Vassar (1865), Smith (1875), and Wellesley (1875) opened, Mount Holyoke was widely regarded as the preeminent institution of higher education for women. The women’s schools of Oxford, Ohio, reveal several facets of antebellum women’s education. First, the story of Western Female Seminary demonstrates that Mary Lyon’s plan for women’s education had a broad appeal that transcended regional and temporal limits.