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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

Quotations from Women at Penn:
1910 - 1919

Dedicated to the memory of Ruth Branning Molloy, B.S. in Ed. 1930

Many of these quotations were used in Jenny Holzer's Hill Square sculpture commemorating 125 Years of Women at Penn

 

Photograph of Penn coeds walking down the street, 1918Detail of pen and ink sketch of elegant 'Ivy Girl'1912 photograph of Old Sergeant Hall Interior - Bedroom

For two happy hours yesterday girls and women splashed about in the swimming pool of the University of Pennsylvania gymnasium. It was the first opportunity that the women had to use the pool and they took good advantage of it. … Only two of the women knew how to swim …

Local Newspaper, 1911

When the millennium comes we shall have a women's dormitory at Pennsylvania, and there we shall hope to find a haven of rest at last.

Beta Alpha, Chapter History, 1912

Detail of 1912 photograph of Old Sergeant Hall, first women's dorm at Penn

...at the games last fall, for the first time in the history of the University, co-eds, valiantly cheered the team from the student section. They rejoiced in a victory, though from afar; they stood and sang the "Alma Mater," when the stands were gloomy and downcast with defeat. For the moment the co-ed could forget the wide isolation of her college life, the oftimes thankless existence, and borne on the refrain of the old songs, join in the spirit of Pennsylvania. Then college meant something, other than a dull routine of class work, or a daily street car ride into West Philadelphia.

The Red and Blue, February 1913

Merely to mention that more than four thousand women have been awarded degrees, that more than four thousand women students are registered this year in various courses of study, that the Board of Trustees has been responsible for the education of both sexes for more than one hundred and eighty years, should be sufficient evidence that Alma Mater is not the only female associated with this institution, as seems to be the impression in some quarters.

Karl Greenwood Miller, 1915 B.A.; 1917 A.M.; 1921 Ph.D.; Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for Women, 1936-1959

A co-ed is a woman student who patronizes a man's college and who makes strong men giggle in Botany and Psychology classes.

The Pennsylvanian, 1916

I concluded [while still an undergraduate student] that I could not single-handedly make any changes in the position of women at Penn or of the people of my race and that it was best for me to secure an outstanding record and a solid education so that when I entered public life I would have the background to assume responsibility and leadership.

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, 1918 B.S. in Ed.; 1919 A.M.; 1921 Ph.D. in Economics; 1927, LL.B.; 1974, Hon. LL.D.

Detail of portrait photograph of Sadie Tanner Mossell at the time of her 1918 graduation from Penn

To offset the loss of more than 2000 students who have enlisted in various branches of the Government service, all departments of the University of Pennsylvania will be declared open to women, beginning with the second term in February, according to an unofficial statement made yesterday by a University official.

Local Newspaper, 1918

1918 photograph of School of Education, Class of 1920, on the steps of Furness Library

We "flooded the campus," "crowded the corridors," "overran the library," and "a handful of women students caused more anxiety than thousands of the boys." We were undaunted, however, and had a jolly time.

The Record, 1918

1912 photograph of Old Sergent Hall women's dormitory - Interior, Graduate Rest Room

…the University has had women students for years and their presence has proved successful in every way. It is also a fact that no university which has ever opened its doors to women has afterward excluded them and more and more universities are letting down the bars. … It is just as well for Pennsylvania to lead again, and I am heartily in favor of extending all our facilities to women students. One must also remember that we had 6900 students to register this fall, and 220 have since left to serve in the army and navy.

Edgar Fahs Smith, Provost, 1910-1920

Detail of 1911 photograph of Provost Edgar Fahs Smith

Never before were there so many women at Pennsylvania, never were women so welcome and never was there so much for each to do. Gravely we were assured last September that the intellectual future of the world rested with us. Nothing daunted, we assumed the responsibility.

Rebecca Leaming, 1919 B.S. in Ed.; Ph.D. 1922; President of the Women's Undergraduate Association

Yearbook photograph of Rebecca Leaming from 1919 'Women's Record'

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