Women at Auburn 1900-1940

Women at Auburn 1900-1940

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”15060″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Now in the early 1900s, past the inaugural years of women at Auburn University, gender equality would steadily progress to higher education and access to once male exclusive jobs.

Between 1894 and 1914, most female graduates pursued careers in teaching and administration. Some, however, challenged societal expectations for women in the workplace. Evans Harrell made history in 1911 when she received her degree in architecture, inching her way into a previously male dominate field.

Also keeping up with their fellows, and in some cases outperforming, “over thirty women entered API’s graduate program between 1894 and 1920,” Katrina Blair Van Tassel, author of “Co-eds,” Basketball Players, and Beauty Queens: Women at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1892-1941, wrote.

Not only were they thriving academically, women were also finding their independence. In her 1932 study, Chase Going Woodhouse, an educator and Congresswoman from Connecticut, found that “nationwide, fifty-three percent of the women who attended college between 1912 and 1922 paid all or part of their expenses.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]As more graduated with higher degrees, more entered the workplace, some even finding employment at Auburn. In 1919, the university hired its first female professor, Kate Lane. Following her, Mary Katherine Holliefield was hired as an English instructor.

In 1920, Auburn had 18 female students, just under two percent of the entire student body. Nonetheless, the Roaring Twenties sparked an era of women’s empowerment.

“American women voted for the first time in the 1920 presidential election,” The Auburn Alumnews wrote in 1992, “the increase in coeds at Auburn during the 1920s was partly a result of the Jazz Age, when women were asserting their independence.”

Coeds began to participate in athletics, “playing basketball against a number of area college and high schools teams.” This would become known as the “Golden Age of Sport.”

Although the first male dormitory was built in 1912, women wouldn’t receive a place to call their own until 1921.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”15070″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Prior to this, most girls lived with relatives close to campus or stayed at a board house. As times progressed, too, mothers no longer moved with their daughters to college.

The Women’s Student Government Association was established in 1922. They adopted a new constitution and set of regulations regarding women’s dormitories, which was set in place to recognize rights as an individual and as a group, Volume XLIII of the Glomerata scrawled.

The same year, Kappa Delta became the first sorority on campus. This became a new outlet for women to socialize and immerse themselves in the school.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”15072″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Along with Greek life, clubs involving women were formed. The International Relations Club, sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment Fund, allowed coeds to participate. Clubs, though, were more commonly gender exclusive. In 1932, the Auburn Cardinal Key chapter, a national honor society for women, was formed. Volume XLIV of the Glomerata, published in 1940, said, “This was one of the first of such organizations to be established on American college campuses.”

A similar organization was created in 1935, called Sphinx. It recognized outstanding academic, leadership, personality, and service qualities in senior women. Sphinx also sponsored the Oracles, a freshman honor society for women.

Other strictly female clubs created in the 30s were: Dance Club, Girl’s Glee Club, and the Dana King Gatchell Club.

Despite being accepted by their fellows outside of the classroom, women still faced academic discrimination.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Ella Boyd, who graduated in 1933, recalled that “one of the doctors who taught organic chemistry said he didn’t think girls had any place at Auburn, or much sense either. I finished second in my class though.”

“I was the only girl in my advanced mathematics classes — the others were boys in Engineering” said Minnie Mann Beard ‘35. “They didn’t think a girl should be taking the advanced mathematics courses.”

Despite this, women continued resiliently and as World War II approached, their role would soon take a dramatic turn.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Women at Auburn: 1892-1900

Women at Auburn: 1892-1900

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”14732″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Before Auburn’s first female students walked the Plains, there was one woman who paved the way. In the mid 1870s, Julia Tutwiler, co-principal of the Alabama Normal College for Girls at Livingston, fought for equal educational opportunities for women. She petitioned to the Alabama Education Association and the University’s Board, originally wanting women’s enrollment at the University of Alabama. It would be Auburn University, then known as the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, though, to make the first step towards gender equality in Alabama.

In 1882, William L. Broun became the president of Auburn and would later oversee the induction of women in college academia. His daughter, Katherine Broun, along with two other women, Margaret Teague and Willie Little, took university entrance exams in English, History, Latin, and Mathematics.

Signaling the start of a momentous wave, the three were admitted in 1892. Ensuing Auburn, two women enrolled at Tuscaloosa’s campus the next year.

Teague moved from Arkansas to Auburn after her mother’s passing to live with her aunt, Mary Teague Holliefield. Little’s father was a businessman and mayor of Auburn. The common trend was their close proximity to the university, and this would stay true for Auburn students throughout the decade. Coeds were often “daughters of townspeople and faculty,” taking the train from Opelika or walking to school.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”14754″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]While women were now allowed to attend the university, there were gender-specific restrictions decreed. Leah Rawls Atkins, historian and author of A Century of Women at Auburn: Blossoms Amid the Deep Verdure, wrote that they were required to “walk directly to class and to leave the campus immediately after call dismissed.” Specifically, to prevent them from loitering or flirting with the cadets.

Although fraternization during school hours was forbidden, “girls had dates whenever they pleased,” usually attending church with a beaux or going on ‘study dates’.

Bringing their two years full circle, graduation day came. “Commencement week at Auburn in 1894 was the largest graduation week ever held to that time, and it represented a ‘new departure’ as three women were awarded ‘degrees and all honors,” Atkins said. Broun, Little, and Teague were awarded their diplomas “amid thunderous applause.”

Broun would continue her education as Alabama’s first female graduate student, also winning a competitive scholarship. She later opened the coeducational Conway Broun Preparatory School.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Like Broun, many women pursued degrees in education. “Since most college educated women planned to work for only a few years, it was not practical to pursue a career which required more training, and many feared pursuing such careers might involve the hostility of peers, family members, or professors,” said Katrina Blair Van Tassel, author of “Co-eds,” Basketball Players, and Beauty Queens: Women at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1892-1941.

Women were also largely excluded during the beginning years of the Glomerata and the Orange and Blue newspaper. Certain professors believed that men held a distinct superiority and wouldn’t call on coeds in class. This, perhaps, only encouraged them to make better classes and be competitive against their male fellows.

It would remain an ongoing battle against the times to be treated fairly, but progress was being made. “Even the most misogynist students had seconds thoughts abound offending the daughter of a confederate general who taught physics, or the sister of a fraternity president,” Tassel wrote.

The Agriculture Club, Press Club and Founder’s Club welcomed women without hesitation. They also became progressively involved in athletics. In 1897 four women joined the Cycle Club and in 1899 a woman served as the president of the Tennis Club.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”14748″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]With small advancements and a shift towards open-mindedness in society, “men of the 1890s and 1900s applauded the ‘beauty of full womanhood’ and believed the presence of women would raise ‘the general culture of the entire college.’”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”14739″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row]