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From the Archives: A Celebration of Women’s History at UD

By Haylee Hunt ’21

Women at UD have made some extraordinary accomplishments, and Women’s History Month is an opportune time to recognize them. University Archives and Special Collections’ new exhibit, “Women’s History at UD,” curated by assistant archivist Amy Rohmiller and junior Emily Cordonnier, highlights some of these extraordinary accomplishments. Here, I showcase several from the exhibit as well as several others I discovered during my research for the exhibit.

Academics and student life

  • In 1930, Jessie Scott Hathcock became the first African American woman to graduate from UD with a bachelor’s degree
  • Alma Braun ’39 was the first woman to enter the pre-med department and later became the first alumna to earn a medical degree. She was also part of the first class admitted to UD’s College of Women in September 1935. 
  • Pauline Louise Kelley ’52 was the first woman valedictorian. 
  • In 1959, Elizabeth Fleming ’62 was on the cover of Glamour magazine’s college issue as one of the 10 best-dressed college women in America.
  • In 1973, Jill Kuhlman ’76 was the first woman to enroll in UD’s ROTC program. In September 1974, the Flyer News ran an article with the headline “Army adds feminine touch.”
  • Bonnie McKinley ’76 was the first female from UD to receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.
  • In January 2006, Denise Taylor became the first female tenure-track faculty member in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, followed a year later by Kenya Crosson. Both are now associate professors. 

Athletics

Women have brought acclaim to the University for their accomplishments in athletics. 

  • The women’s basketball team in 2020 won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship — the team’s fifth A-10 regular-season or tournament title since 2013. Some noteworthy firsts include the Flyers’ first bid in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 2010 and, in 1975, the first women’s athletic scholarship, awarded to Deirdre Kane ’76.
  • Before women were able to compete at the collegiate level, they played at events called Play Days, which were more like intramural sports.
  • In 1968-69, women’s basketball became a varsity sport.
  • In 1979-80, the women’s basketball team won its first national championship, the Division II AIAW championship.
  • Many women have been inducted into UD’s athletics hall of fame.

Speakers

The University has a history of inviting strong women to speak at the University. Some of these include Coretta Scott King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilou Awiakta, Winona LaDuke, Angela Davis, Marge Piercy and Leymah Gbowee.

Exhibit information

The exhibit will be on display through midsummer in University Archives and Special Collections (second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall) and in the cases opposite the elevators on the fourth floor of Roesch Library. Once regular hours resume following the pandemic, it will be open to the public. For updates, see the Libraries closure information page.

Haylee Hunt is a junior history major from Huber Heights, Ohio. She conducted much of the research behind this women’s history exhibit. Her favorite woman in history is Sacagawea. “She is such an amazing woman,” Haylee writes.

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