Women at the College of William and Mary

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The first female students were admitted to the College of William and Mary for the fall term in 1918.


19th Century

On February 6, 1896, the Faculty of the College of William and Mary approved a resolution "that ladies of town and College be permitted, at Dr. Hall's discretion, to attend his lectures on Shakespeare."

On October 2, 1896, Minnie G. Braithwaite petitioned the faculty of the college to allow her to attend chemistry lectures. The faculty assembly voted 4-3 to deny her request. Six days later, after much discussion about Braithwaite’s appeal of their decision, the group rejected a more sweeping resolution that would have allowed women into the science lectures.

Admission of Women in 1918

The 1918-1919 academic year saw the admission of the following 24 women: Lillian Hope Baines, Martha Elizabeth Barksdale, Florence Margaret Bridges, Lucille Woodford Brown, Alice Rebecca Burke, Janet Haldane Coleman, Ruth Taylor Conkey, Catherine Teackle Dennis, Winifred Anderson Goodwin, Mary Virginia Haile, Emily Moore Hall, Ruth May Harris, Florence Mae Harris, Elizabeth Lee, Margaret Marion Lee, Evelyn Virginia Palmer, Alice Saunders Person, Gladys Elizabeth Powers, Edna Widgen Reid, Laura Louise Reid, Celeste Prince Ross, Elizabeth Beverly Scott, Margaret Thornton, and Marie Hovey Wilkins.

Departments created as a result of the admission of women included Home Economics, Secretarial, and Library Science.

The first woman to receive a Masters of the Arts degree was Edna Zinn Juchoff, wife of professor Frederick Juchoff, in 1920.

The first woman to receive a graduate law degree was Virginia Mister in 1937. She received her Bachelor of Arts from William & Mary in 1935 and her Bachelor of Civil Laws, a predecessor to the Juris Doctor, in 1937.

Sources Used: Matriculation Book, 1888-1920 (from the Board of Visitors Records), Bulletin of the College of William & Mary Catalogue, 1918-1919, Colonial Echo, 1919, 1920, Commencement Program, 1920.

For more information about the admission of women to William and Mary in 1918, see the following online exhibits as well as the resources listed below in the Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library.

Asian American Women Students

List in-progress

Hatsuye Yamasaki was the first known Asian American woman to attend William and Mary and one of the first Asian American students. Entered the College in 1933 and graduated in 1937. During her time at the College, Yamasaki was part of the Judicial Council and the Women's Sophomore Tribunal. She was also Brown Hall President, Spanish Club Secretary, an Intramural Sports Representative, and on the Indian Handbook staff. Yamasaki hailed from Washington DC. See the 1937 The Colonial Echo page 86-87.

Beatrice H. Fujiwara Sakai of Honolulu, Hawaii entered the College in 1949 and graduated in 1953, majoring in biology. She was a member of the Biology Club. See The Flat Hat of April 24, 1951, page 7. See also the Colonial Echo.

African American Women

Miriam Johnson Carter was the first African American woman to attend William & Mary. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Temple University was admitted to study law on September 20, 1955. Mrs. Carter initially applied to to William & Mary's graduate program in Education in 1955 while she was on a sabbatical leave from the school at which she was a teacher. Her application was rejected on the grounds that Virginia State College offered the same program. She went on to apply for a position with the Institute of Early American History and Culture and then the graduate program in aquatic biology before being admitted to the law school. She withdrew at end of the 1955-1956 academic year.

The first female undergraduate African American students, also the first black residential students, were Karen Ely, Lynn Briley, and Janet Brown, who arrived as freshmen in fall 1967. The women roomed together. At that time, there were three black male undergraduate students, all part-time, and one black male graduate student, who all lived off campus. All three women graduated from the College of William and Mary. (Flat Hat, 20 October 1967, p 16)

Lillian Poe, a doctoral candidate in history, was hired as assistant dean of admissions in summer 1970, becoming the College’s first black administrator.

Board of Visitors

Mary Munford in 1920 was the first woman to serve on the Board of Visitors. Kate Waller Barrett was the second woman to serve on William and Mary's Board of Visitors.

Anne Dobie Peebles, class of 1944, (BOV 1974-1987, Vice-Rector 1982-1984, Rector 1984-1987) was elected the first woman Rector of the Board of Visitors in William and Mary's history. The second was Susan A. Magill, class of 1972 (BOV 1997-2006, Rector 2004-2006).

Faculty and Staff

The report, "The Status of Women at the College of William and Mary" compiled in 1973, showed that 39 women constituted about 13% of the instructional staff of 305. In 1984, the College established numerical quotas for hiring women faculty and in 1985 they had risen to 51 or 12.5% of the faculty of 408. (From "The College of William and Mary: A History" (1993), p. 861, the 2-volume history of the university)

Department Chairs

Margaret L. Hamilton was the Chair of the Department of Government from 1973-1978 and she also acted in that capacity in 1968-1969. (BOV resolution marking her retirement, April 25, 1986) Margaret L. Hamilton appointments: Acting Assistant Professor of Government, 1953-1955; Assistant Assistant Professor of Government, 1955-1964; Associate Professor of Government, 1964-1969; Professor of Government, 1969-1986; Professor of Government, Emerita, 1986.

Elsa S. Diduk was chair of the Department of Modern Languages in the late 1970s. Diduk's appointments: Instructor in Modern Languages, 1966-1968; Assistant Professor of Modern Languages, 1968-1974; Associate Professor of Modern Languages, 1974-1978; Professor of Modern Languages, 1978-1990; Professor of Modern Languages and Literature, Emerita, 1990.

Librarian

The first woman librarian at the College of William and Mary was Blanche Trevilian Moncure from l899-l902. (From October 4, 1899 Meeting, Faculty Minute Book, 1893-1905, Faculty Assembly Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.)

Women's Studies Program

The Women's Studies Program was established in 1990.

Administrative Units

Student Organizations

This list includes administrative organizations like the groups formed for athletics and student government as well as student groups.


Online Exhibits from the SCRC

Material in the SCRC

Note that there are many published resources available about the history of coeducation in the United States and the American South. Researchers are encouraged to consult Swem Library's online catalog and databases for these secondary sources.

Published Sources

Manuscripts and Archives Collections

  • Laura Parrish Papers, survey responses of women who attended William and Mary in the 1920s through the 1940s
  • Martha Barksdale diary; the diary and other material from the papers of Martha Barksdale are also available online.
  • The Flat Hat student newspaper; most issues are available online through the W&M Digital Archive and researchers may also wish to use the index available in the SCRC by person's name, student group name, event, or topical heading.
  • Colonial Echo yearbook has most volumes available online through the W&M Digital Archive. The 1918 edition (p.36) includes a note regarding the beginning of co-education.
  • Alumni Gazette and Alumni Magazine
  • University Archives Oral History Collection (see http://scrc.swem.wm.edu/controlcard.php?id=6613 for how I found the following interviews for you to review): Yelverton Kent, p. 3-4, 8-10, 23, 39; Henry Irving Willett, p. 4; Janet Kimbrough, p. 28-33;

References

Need help?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.