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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

Quotations from Women at Penn:
1940 - 1949

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  College for Women classroom during the 1940s1947 photograph of Bennett Hall, home of the College for WomenPhotograph of captains of women's sports teams in 1940

It is a matter of pride to me, of course, that much of the new spirit of freedom among the women of the world has been stimulated by the gains women have attained in the United States. I don't know if this spirit qualifies as an export, but if it does I would call the concept of women's place in our modern society one of America's most important contributions in the world trade of ideas.

Marietta Endicott Peabody Tree, Attended the College for Women, 1936-1939 (withdrew without a degree, Class of 1940); 1964 LL.D. (honorary); B.A. 1971

Virtually every country that has become independent in the last twenty years, has granted women the right to vote and the right to hold public office with the stroke of its constitutional pen.

This is a far cry from only one hundred and fifty years ago, when in the entire world there was not one woman college graduate, not one woman who could vote or hold public office and not one married woman who could collect her own wages or call her legal soul her own.

Marietta Endicott Peabody Tree, Attended the College for Women, 1936-1939 (withdrew without a degree, Class of 1940); 1964 LL.D. (honorary); B.A. 1971

Photograph of 1940 Hey Day, outgoing and incoming presidents of the Women's Student Government Association

It is a great honor to meet women who are responsible for the future. We who are college women gathered together at the University of Pennsylvania from all over the country are asking many questions, "What kind of society do we want?" What role should women play in this society? What can we do to help solve great questions of the day - the great unanswered questions, which hinge the fate of our children and their children's children. The unanswered questions of hunger midst plenty, - sickness and disease midst the great breakthrough of modern medicine, - illiteracy in the age of communication and the most important question of all, "Shall we live in peace?"

All down the length of time I think we can safely say that the greatest waste has been the waste of woman power. The world has tried to make progress with only half of its energy and brains and spirit.

Marietta Endicott Peabody Tree, Attended the College for Women, 1936-1939 (withdrew without a degree, Class of 1940); 1964 LL.D. (honorary); B.A. 1971

I remember at age 18, going to a big party and trembling with terror when a girl friend introduced me as "the college girl." It was the signal for men to turn away. And they did.

I did everything to suppress the fact that I was bright. One day my tutor told me I was up for a Phi Beta Kappa key. I thought: Gawd, that's awful: Suppose people find out?

Well, I went to the oral exam and there were two young men there. Without hesitation, I said to them: "I don't know any single thing today." Of course, I knew all the answers but pretended ignorance. I flunked. I didn't get the key!

And do you know what? It was a relief.

Marietta Endicott Peabody Tree, Attended the College for Women, 1936-1939 (withdrew without a degree, Class of 1940); 1964 LL.D. (honorary); B.A. 1971

Detail of photograph of alumni Pete Martin, Marietta Tree, Walter O'Malley speaking at University of Pennsylvania function

I sat in the front seat. If other students wanted a good seat, they had to sit beside me. If they didn't, it was not my concern because I could clearly see the professor and the blackboard as I was right up there. … This way I didn't have to look at them or the gestures made that were directed against me or toward me.

Helen Octavia Dickens, 1942 Cert. Prof.; 1945 M.M.Sc.

Women have played a significant role in all phases of Pennsylvania development by virtue of their own capabilities.

Althea Stauffer Kratz Hottel, 1929 B.S. in Ed.; 1934 A.M.; 1940 Ph.D.; 1959 LL.D. (honorary)

Photograph of Althea Kratz Hottel from the 1945 'Women's Record'

Many of us made the most of the privileges granted us at the University. We were prepared to make some contribution toward the new and improved world created in the late '40s.

Evelyn Giangiulio Marcantonio, 1945 B.S. in Ed.; 1946 M.S. in Ed.

We have been given more than mere blueprints of education; we have learned to understand the facts and figures, to use them, to see beyond them to the larger integrated picture of life. The University has taught us to think.

Mary Elizabeth Johnston, 1944 B.A.

Yearbook portrait of Mary Elizabeth Johnston from 1944 'Women's Record'

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