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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

Quotations from Women at Penn:
1930 - 1939

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

 

Sepia photograph of 6 costumed actors in a Bowling Green dramatic production, late 1920sPhotograph of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members, 19301935 photograph of First day women were allowed to row: women and coaches on the Schuylkill, Philadelphia Art Museum in the background

My mother, a 1930 Penn grad, remembers being chased out of class by a male professor who shouted at her, "I don't teach women!" All this is in sharp contrast to my children's experiences at Penn in the '80s.

Joan Myerson Shrager, 1960 B.S. in Ed.

…after the College for Women was established there were a great many more things, in fact, an infinite number of things that women could do.

Katherine O'Kane Jones, 1930 B.S. in Ed.; 1934 A.M.; Assistant Dean of Women, 1931-1941 and 1954-1960

When women in colleges first began to show an active interest in athletics the general tendency was to imitate the men,-develop strong varsity teams for a few girls and sponsor intercollegiate competition. But fortunately they discovered that they were starting at the wrong place-they were developing the apex of the triangle rather than the broader base which would include many women. About the same time women's athletic associations sprang up. Intra-mural programs were sponsored. … They adopted a slogan, "A Team for Everyone, Everyone on a Team."

Charlotte Flack, 1930 B.S. in Ed.

Photograph of Women's basketball stars, 1938

We, the women of this University, were not matriculated into equal studenthood, with a dormitory to lie down in, a room of our own in which to "sing Pennsy songs to the banjo," nor with freedom of our rosters. We were told we were neither beautiful nor desirable, but we thrived (sometimes scornfully) on scorn, and somehow have achieved…

Ruth Branning Molloy, 1930 B.S. in Ed.

Ruth Branning's 1930 yearbook portrait photograph

My memories: men had to bow to women at Alumni Day ... my freshmen year was the first time women were allowed to go to football games, and we were allowed to cheer (at other schools they said women's voices were too shrill) ... no smoking was allowed for women on campus so we smoked in the ladies room ... I wore pants only to play sports ... we had a 'Pirates Ball' dance where women dressed as pirates and danced with each other. Someone took a picture of a woman in a costume that showed her legs and a prisoner started writing her and that was the end of the Pirates Ball! ... the Gazette devoted an issue to women and men objected so they never did it again ... 'Drink A Milkshake at daybreak' was a popular song back then so I did, and felt like a true Penn student!"

Ruth Branning Molloy, 1930 B.S. in Ed.

Color photograph of three Penn coeds in costumes for pirate's ball, 1939

In spite of the long coolness, the years of banishment to the back stairs, I find an unexpected warmth in a consideration of the early years. If we, the women, had had everything from the very beginning, what would there have been to fight for, to yearn over, to wait for, finally to exult upon, in this walk around the block, this miracle of land acquired? The tired truth of discrimination on the part of some powerful reactionaries is now one for the history book.

Ruth Branning Molloy, 1930 B.S. in Ed.

Photograph of 6 sorority sisters in cap and gown, June 1930, in front of the University of Pennsylvania Chapter House of Kappa Kappa Gamma, 3323 Walnut St.

You now face a far more difficult situation. Although you are prepared to serve, there is but little demand for your service. Perhaps there is no other condition which tends more strongly to break one's spirit. However, I have faith that society will adjust itself in the near future and that the same courage which you have manifested during the past four years will help you find your place in the new order of things.

John Harrison Minnick, Dean of the School of Education, 1921-1948

The program was not for dilettantes!

Rebecca Jean Brownlee, 1934 B.S. in Ed.; 1936 A.M.; 1942 Ph.D.; 1986 LL.D. (honorary); Dean, College of Liberal Arts for Women, 1960-1975; Dean of Advising Services, School of Arts and Sciences, 1975-1977

1934 yearbook photograph of Rebecca Jean Brownlee

College has by no means laid out a restricted course for our lives, rather it has suggested a theme around which we may mobilize our own thoughts, our own reason, and our own imagination.

Doris Elmer Price, 1939 B.A. (College for Women); 1941 A.M.

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