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UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

 

Pioneers: CWRU's First Women

 

In 2003 women represented 44% of the Case Western Reserve University student population and 31% of its faculty. One hundred years earlier, women were 20% of the combined Case School of Applied Science and Western Reserve University student population and 9% of the faculty. Many factors contributed to reducing obstacles to educational opportunities for women. Not least among these factors were the courage and tenacity of the women who broke each barrier. This exhibit is to remember and honor their achievements.

The original exhibit was supported by a grant from the Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Association. The exhibit was revised in November, 2007.


   
1833
Oberlin College opened - the first American college to grant undergraduate degrees to women.
   
1849
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree from a regular American medical school, Geneva Medical College.
Nancy Elizabeth Talbot Clark was the first woman to graduate from Western Reserve's nine-year-old medical school.
Nancy Elizabeth Talbot Clark
1852
 
   
1855
University of Iowa became the first state university to admit male and female students on an equal basis from its opening.
   
1870
University of Cincinnati was founded as a coeducational municipal university.
      29% of American colleges were coeducational, 12% were women only, 59% were men only.
      Women represented 21% of all students enrolled in American higher education institutions.
      Ada Kepley became the first woman in the U.S. to receive a law degree, from Union College of Law.
Fifty years after its establishment, Viola Smith Buell became the first woman to graduate from Western Reserve College.
Viola Smith Buell
1876
 
   
1877
Helen Magill White was the first woman awarded the Ph.D. by an American university, Boston University.
   
1879
Harvard “Annex” opened for women’s instruction by Harvard faculty. In 1894 it was chartered as Radcliffe College.
Laura Kerr Axtell was the first woman to endow a Case School of Applied Science professorship.
Laura Kerr Axtell
1885
 
Western Reserve University ended undergraduate co-education and adopted the coordinate system, establishing the College for Women, later Flora Stone Mather College, as its women's college.  
1888
 
Eliza Hardy Lord, Dean of the College for Women (1888-1892) was Western Reserve University's first woman faculty member and first woman dean.
Eliza Hardy Lord
   
Maude Kimball was the first student of the Western Reserve University College for Women.
Maude Kimball
   
   
1889
Columbia trustees approved the founding of Barnard College, Columbia’s “female annex.”
   
1890
43% of American colleges were coeducational, 20% were women only, 37% were men only.
      Women represented just under 36% of all students enrolled in American higher education institutions.
Mary Louisa French was the first graduate of the College for Women.
Mary Louisa French
1891
Brown adopted the coordinate system, establishing Pembroke as its women’s college.
   
1892
From its establishment, the University of Chicago admitted women and men.
Mary Chilton Noyes was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from Western Reserve University when its three-year-old Department of Graduate Instruction awarded its first Ph.D. degrees.  
1895
 
Louisa F. Randolph became the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Western Reserve University.  
1898
First Phi Beta Kappa chapter at a woman’s college was established at Vassar College.
Lucy Gertrude Hoffman was the first woman Western Reserve University Dental School graduate, eighteen years after the School's establishment.
Lucy Gertrude Hoffman
1910
58% of American colleges were coeducational, 15% were women only, 27% were men only.
Four years after the Cleveland School of Pharmacy affiliated with Western Reserve University, Birdie Rehmer became its first woman graduate.
Birdie Rehmer
1912
 
   
1920
Women represented over 47% of all students enrolled in American higher education institutions.
Hannah Mirsky was the first woman graduate of Western Reserve University's thirty-year-old Law School.
Hannah Mirsky
1921
 
The School of Nursing became Western Reserve University's second school to open with a woman dean, Carolyn E. Gray (1923-1924).
Carolyn E. Gray
1923
 
Forty-eight years after its establishment, Case School of Applied Science graduated its first woman, Edith Paula Chartkoff. She received an M.S. in Metallurgy.  
1928
 
   
1930
69% of American colleges were coeducational, 16% were women only, 15% were men only.
Olive Baxter Stevens was the first woman to graduate from the School of Architecture, six years after its affiliation with Western Reserve University.  
1935
 
Irene Levis was the first woman appointed to the Case School of Applied Science faculty.
Irene Levis
1938
 
Laura Diehl was the first woman to receive an undergraduate degree from Case School of Applied Science, a B.S. in Physics.
Laura Diehl
1945
 
Jo Godley was the first woman to win the Case Honor Key, awarded for outstanding achievement in extracurricular activities.
Jo Godley
1948
 
Claire Doran was the first woman to receive a varsity "R" sweater from Western Reserve University. Claire Doran
1949
 
Margaret H. Johnson was the first woman Dean (1950-1958) of Western Reserve University's School of Applied Social Sciences, thirty-five years after its establishment. She also received the first Master of Science in Social Administration awarded by SASS, in 1919.
Margaret H. Johnson
1950
Women represented 30% of all students enrolled in American higher education institutions.
Millicent C. McIntosh was the only woman to receive an honorary degree from Case Institute of Technology.
Millicent C. McIntosh
1955
 
Mary Carolyn Neff was the first woman corporate officer of Western Reserve University.
Mary Carolyn Neff
1959
 
First peacetime admission of women to Case Institute of Technology's undergraduate program.  
 
Mei-Mei Wang was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from Case Institute of Technology.
Mei-Mei Wang
1960
 
Mary Frances Pinches was the first woman to receive the Case Achievement Award, recognizing exceptional service by a member of the Case Institute of Technology faculty or staff.
Mary Frances Pinches
1964
 
Volleyball became the first documented Case Western Reserve University women's varsity sport.
volleyball team
1971
 
Nancy Gray was Case Western Reserve University's first woman varsity head coach.
Nancy Gray
   
First time a separate team from Mather College was allowed to run in the Hudson Relay, established in 1910, to commemorate Western Reserve College's move from Hudson to Cleveland.  
1972
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 was enacted, prohibiting sex discrimination in federally assisted educational programs.
Kathleen M. Logan became the first woman elected Case senior class president.
Kathleen M. Logan
1973
 
Marie Haug was the first woman chair of the Case Western Reserve University Faculty Senate, established in 1970.
Marie Haug
1976
 
   
1977
The first women Rhodes Scholars were elected.
Lucille S. Mayne was Case Western Reserve University's first woman Dean of the School of Graduate Studies (1980-1984).
Lucille S. Mayne
1980
Women represented nearly 52% of all students enrolled in American higher education institutions.
Patricia B. Kilpatrick was the first woman vice president of Case Western Reserve University.
Patricia B. Kilpatrick
1987
 
Karen N. Horn was the first woman chair of the Case Western Reserve University Board of Trustees (1992-1995).
Karen N. Horn
1992
 
Barbara Snyder was elected the first woman president of Case Western Reserve University. Her tenure as president began July 1, 2007.
Barbara Snyder
2006
 
Pamela Davis was appointed Case Western Reserve University's first woman dean of the School of Medicine. Pamela Davis
 

 

Additional information about the schools of Case Western Reserve University can be found at http://www.case.edu/its/archives/Units/schools.htm

 

The research for this exhibit was conducted by staff of the University Archives from the following sources:

Barnard College. "Barnard Interactive History" n.d. http://beatl.barnard.columbia.edu/barnard/ (30 November 2007)

Daniels, Elizabeth. "Vassar History, 1891-1904" 1999 http://faculty.vassar.edu/daniels/1891_1904.html (30 November 2007)

Goldstein, Linda Lehmann. "Roses Bloomed in Winter: Women Medical Graduates of Western Reserve College, 1852-1856." PhD. diss., Case Western Reserve University, 1989

Mitchell, Martha. "Encyclopedia Brunoniana" 1993 http://www.brown.edu (30 November 2007)

Oberlin College. "Course Catalog" 2004 http://www.oberlin.edu/catalog/geninfo.html (30 November 2007)

Pinches, Mary Frances. "Firsts at Case, 1974" TMs, University Archives, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

Radcliffe College. "Significant Dates in Radcliffe's History" 2004 http://www.radcliffe.edu/about/dates.aspx (30 November 2007)

Solomon, Barbara Miller. In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985)

University of Iowa. "About Iowa" 2003 http://uiowa.edu/homepage/about_UI/index.html (30 November 2007)

Waite, Frederick Clayton. Western Reserve University: Centennial History of the School of Medicine. (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1946)

Waite, Frederick Clayton. "Western Reserve University: History of the First Forty Years of the Cleveland Era, 1881-1921, 1954" TMs, University Archives, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

Waite, Frederick Clayton. Western Reserve University - The Hudson Era: A History of Western Reserve College and Academy at Hudson, Ohio, from 1826 to 1882. (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1943)

Records in the University Archives, including Alumni Directories, Annual Reports, Catalogs, Commencement Programs, Trustee Minutes, and Yearbooks of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University.

We welcome identification of additional pioneering CWRU women by contacting the University Archives.