The 1903 Conference of Deans of Women of the Middle West

The Context - The Year 1903
Who Were They? Attendees
Conference Agenda
Minutes of the Conference (pdf)

Suggestions for Further Exploration

The Context - The Year 1903

Ford Motor Company founded

The first transcontinental trip by automobile--San Francisco to New York in 52 days.

"Wright Flyer" Flies -(12/17/03) On December 17th, man's first flight in a heavier-than-air vehicle occures in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The inventors are Orville and Wilbur Wright. In the first flight, the plane flies for 12 seconds for 120 feet.

The “Gibson Girl” is the fashion icon for women. “With her hair piled atop her head and a waist so tiny as to defy belief, the Gibson Girl represented a serene self-confidence that could surmount any problem. The envy of all who knew her, the Gibson Girl remained aloof of her surroundings but not to the extent of haughtiness. She was at once remote but yet accessible. The “Gibson Man,” equally as handsome and self-assured as the Gibson Girl, provided her perfect partner.” (

Federal spending: $0.52 billion
Unemployment: 3.9%
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.02

The big hit movie is “The Great Train Robbery” made by Edison Corporation mechanic Edwin S. Porter. The movie is 12 minutes long, incorporates the use of cutting between simultaneous events, and establishes the shot as the basic element of film. It is also the first Western. (To see it online, go to

Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Pierre and Marie Curie for their study of radiation.

Panama declares independence from Colombia. They begin digging the Panama Canal.

President: Theodore Roosevelt
Vice President: none
Population: 80,632,000 (in 2000: 281,421,906)

Some Links:

Who Were They? Attendees

Miss Mary Bidwell Breed (1870-1945)
Indiana University, Dean of Women 1901-1906, also Asst. Prof. of Chemistry (see a photo)

Degrees: AB Bryn Mawr College 1894, MA Bryn Mawr College1896, PhD Bryn Mawr College 1901

President Swain wanted “A woman of superior training and refinement who shall have special care over the college girls.” Was recruited to a similar position at the University of Missouri, 1906-1912.

Some links: A Proper Scientist: IU Fast Facts:

Mrs. Martha Foote Crow (1854-1924)
Northwestern University, Dean of Women (see a photo!)

Degrees: PhB Syracuse University 1876, PhM Syracuse University 1879, PhD Syracuse University 1885, studied at Cambridge, Oxford and Leipzig

One of the early leaders of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, now the American Association of University Women. Before coming to Northwestern, was a “Lady Principal” at Iowa College (now Grinnell College). As an undergraduate, was a founder in 1872 of the Alpha Phi Fraternity, a national sorority still active today.

Some links: Alpha Phi Founders:

Miss Caroline Elizabeth DeGreene
Preceptress, Lawrence University, 1903-1907.

Degrees: PhB Earlham College 1893, AM University of Michigan 1903.

Taught French and German at Lawrence University, and worked to establish self-government in the women’s residence halls in 1908. After Lawrence, she did graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and was the Head of the Modern Language Department at Friends Select School, an institution that survives today as a college preparatory school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Miss Margaret J. Evans (later Huntington) (1842-1926)
Carleton College, Principal Lady and Dean of Women titles, 1874-1908

AB Lawrence University 1869, AM Lawrence University 1872, (honorary) DLit Lawrence College 1898, (honorary) DHL Carleton University 1898. She studied in Berlin, Heidelberg, and Oxford.

Secured her first teaching job at the age of 15. Taught German, Latin and Greek. After 34 years at Lawrence, she retired, remodeled a house on the edge of campus, named it “Hedduch” (meaning peace), married faculty member George Huntington, and sent word back to campus: “Married, happy, going to Hawaii.”

Links: Evans Hall; Carleton Student Association

Miss Eugénie Helen Galloo (d. 1941)
Assistant Professor of French, University of Kansas from 1893 to 1941.

Degrees: BL University of Michigan 1892, MA University of Kansas 1895.

Born and raised in France, and studied at the Sorbonne before emigrating to the US. After earning her degree at the University of Michigan, she found a position as Assistant Professor of French with Arthur Graves Canfield at the University of Kansas. She became head of the Department of Romance Languages in 1900, and also served as first president of the Kansas Modern Language Association. Because Kansas had no dean of women in the early 1900s, Miss Galloo attended the conferences of deans of women.

Links: KU Demolishes Homes (pdf)

Miss Laura Drake Gill (1860-1926)
Dean of Barnard College from 1901 to 1907 (see a photo!)

Degrees: BA Smith College 1881, MA Smith College 1885, DCL University of the South 1907. Also attended U. Leipzig in Germany, U. of Geneva, and the Sorbonne.

In Encyclopedia Britannica, she’s noted as a vocational placement pioneer. She had Liberty Ship (WWII) named after her.

Links: Gill; Encyclopedia Brittanica; Liberty Ships:

Miss Mary Corinthia Harwood (1866-1914)
Dean of Women and Professor of German and French, Ripon College from 1895 to 1914.

Degrees: BL Lawrence College 1888, ML Lawrence College 1888.

A much-respected dean of women and head of the Department of Modern Languages for 19 years, until her death in 1914. Her portrait is in the Ripon College archives. In her honor, Harwood House was operated from 1970 to 1975. It was built in the 1890s and was originally the president’s house. As Harwood House, it was a residence hall for women students majoring in French, with residents allowed to communicate only in French.

Miss Violet Delille Jayne (later Schmidt) (1867-1937)
Dean of the Woman’s Department and Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor of English Literature, University of Illinois from 1897 to 1904.

Degrees: AB University of Michigan 1887, AM University of Michigan 1896, PhD University of Minnesota 1903. She studied at the University of Zurich in 1891-1892.

Married a fellow professor, the head of the department of Railway Engineering. She was vice president of the Modern Language Association in 1900-1901.

Links: Newspaper name listing

Mrs. Myra Beach Jordan (1863-1946)
Dean of Women, University of Michigan from 1902 to 1922.(see a photo)

Degrees: BA University of Michigan 1893.

She was hired by and worked with U. of Michigan President James B. Angell. She came at the departure of Eliza Mosher, a physician, who had been the university’s first Dean of Women. So many of Mrs. Jordan’s assistants went on to be deans of women elsewhere that she was referred to as the “dean-maker” (Nidiffer, 2000, p. 123, citing Jordan, 1946).

Links: Mosher-Jordan Hall;

Miss Alice Hanson Luce (1861-1940)
Dean of Women’s Department and Professor of English, Oberlin College from 1900 to 1904.

Degrees: BA Wellesley College 1883, PhD Heidelberg University (Germany) 1896.

Was an ACA Fellow in English literature in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1895-96. Second Dean of Women at Oberlin replacing Miss Adelia Johnston (dean 1894-1900). In 1904, left to become principal of the Willard Home School for Girls, Berlin, Germany.

Links: Oberlin Archives

Miss Abby Shaw Mayhew (1864-1954)
Mistress of Chadbourne Hall and Assistant Professor of Physical Culture, University of Wisconsin from 1897 to 1912. (see a photo!)

Bachelor’s Wellesley, 1885. Studied physical education in Minneapolis, Cambridge and Chautauqua. “Principle of Ladies’ Hall and Instructor of Gymnastics for Women” in the 1899 Badger. A “pioneer in the establishment of a school for physical education in Shanghai, China.”

Links: 1899 Badger:

Miss Louisa Holman Richardson (later Fiske)
Associate Dean, Ohio Wesleyan University from 1902 to 1903.

Degrees: BA Boston University 1883, MA Boston University 1887, PhD Boston University 1891.

Was an ACA Fellow at Cambridge, studied archealogical remains in Italy, and worked for the British-American YWCA in Paris. Before coming to OWU, she was a professor of Latin at Carleton College.After her marriage to Everett O. Fiske, became vice-president and treasurer of Fisk Teachers Agency (1915-1955). In 1922, she affirmed her ties to her three-time alma mater, accepting her election to the Board of Trustees of Boston University.

Links: Carleton College Departmental History;

Miss Jane Belle Sherzer (d. 1933)
Dean of Women and Professor of English Philology, Illinois College from 1903 to 1904.

Degrees: PhB University of Michigan 1893, AM University of Michigan, PhD University of Berlin 1902. Studied in Zurich and Paris.

She had been an instructor of English at Oxford College for Women in Oxford, OH and Principal at the Jacksonville Female Academy. Became dean of women at Illinois College when it merged with Jacksonville Female Academy and became coed. Position cut for financial reasons. She later returned to Oxford College for Women as its president.Her paper, entitled “The Higher Education of Women in the Ohio Valley Previous to 1840,” originally published in the January 1916 Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, can be found on the website of the Ohio Historical Society.

Links: Ohio Historical Society journal

Miss Minnie A. Stoner
Professor of Domestic Science, Ohio State University from 1901 to 1907.

Degrees: South Dakota State College (now University).

During her administration, OSU awarded the first master’s degree in domestic science. After full professorships at Kansas State University and Ohio State University, in 1907 she resigned her faculty position and became the first Dean of Women at the University of Wyoming. They had recently built a beautiful and spacious new women’s hall, and wanted a new dean of women to go with it. She had additional duties teaching a few classes in domestic economy, but her primary role was dean.

Miss Margaret Elizabeth Stratton (1844-1925)
Dean of Women, University of Colorado from 1901 to 1904.

Degrees: AB Oberlin College 1878, (honorary) MA Oberlin College 1882.

At the close of the Civil War, Margaret was in her early 20s. She decided to leave Connecticut and go south to establish and conduct schools for African American students in Florida and Virginia, work that she continued until 1876. She then went to college at Oberlin. After graduation, she served as an assistant to Adelia Field Johnston, the first dean of women of Oberlin. She taught at Oberlin and Wellesley College in the departments of rhetoric, and in 1895 became the first dean of Wellesley. From there, she went west and was Dean of Women at the University of Colorado for three years before retiring. She stated her philosophy of her work in 1890, while dean at Wellesley, saying “the modern college does not aim to make ascetics; it seeks to make men, whole men and whole women, ready for the duties of modern life” (as cited in Palmieri, 1995, p. 154).

Miss Marion Talbot (1858-1948)
Dean of Undergraduate Women & Professor of Sanitary Science, University of Chicago from 1892 to 1925 (see a photo!)

Degrees: BA Boston University 1880, SB Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1888, MA Boston University 1882, (honorary) degrees from Cornell College, Boston University and Tulane University.

With Alice Freeman Palmer, considered to be the first Dean of Women when the two were appointed by President William Rainey Harper in 1892. A founder of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, now the American Association of University Women. Became president of Constantinople Women's College in Turkey.

Links: Chicago faculty: American Memory Project photo leading suffrage parade (search for "Talbot Marion")

Mrs. L. May Pitkin (later Wallace)
Dean of Women and Associate Professor of English, Beloit College from 1898 to 1905.

Degrees: AB Wellesley College1895.

She resided in Emerson Hall with her women students until she married Professor Malcolm Wallace, also an Associate Professor of English. She once worked at the Hull House of Chicago. The Wallaces left Beloit to go to the University of Toronto.

Links: Women at Beloit:

Miss Alice Young (1861-1935)
Dean of Women and Assistant Professor of English, University of Iowa from 1900 to 1904 (see a photo!)

Degrees: BL University of Minnesota 1896.

Father was the first president of Butler University, but left office before Alice was born. He was then appointed an American Consul, and Alice spent her early years in Belfast, Ireland. After her family returned stateside to Indiana, she was the valedictorian of the Indianapolis public high school and graduated from the City Training School. She taught school in Indianapolis and San Diego and was a principal in Minnesota before beginning her bachelor’s at the University of Minnesota. She studied English under George E. MacLean and began doctoral work but discontinued it to take the postion of Dean of Women at the University of Iowa. After Iowa, she was for a while the Dean of Women at the University of Montana, and then returned to California to teach school.

Links: 1902 Hawkeye at

For sources of information, email Janice J. Gerda,
October 2004; deadlink check Oct. 2005.

Conference Agenda

Conference of Deans of Women of the Middle West
Held in Chicago and Evanston, IL
November 3rd and 4th, 1903

Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 1903

10 AM
“. . .opened by addresses of welcome by Mrs. Crow and Miss Talbot.”
Committee for systematic information from the deans
“The Conference lunched with Miss Talbot in Green Hall, University of Chicago.”

2 PM
Committee on Resolutions appointed
Self-Government v Direct Government
“The Conference after drinking tea informally, were shown by President Harper over the University of Chicago.”

8 PM
Continuation of discussion of government

Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 1903

10 AM
Report from the Committee on Permanent Organization
Influencing Young Women
Methods of Entertaining
Lunch with Mrs. Patton. “President James of Northwestern and Mrs. James were guests at the luncheon. During the luncheon an informal vote was taken to omit the session on Wednesday evening and accept an invitation to attend a concert at Northwestern University.”

2 PM
How to Prevent Excessive Social Dissipation
Conference Adjourned. “The members were entertained at a reception by the Guild of Northwestern University.”

Suggestions for Further Exploration of the World of Early Deans of Women

Bashaw, C. T. (1999). “Stalwart women”: A historical analysis of deans of women in the South. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Gerda, J. J. (2004). A history of the conferences of Deans of Women, 1903-1922 (Doctoral dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 2004). Available from

Mathews, L. K. (1915). The dean of women. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Nidiffer, J. (2000). Pioneering deans of women: More than wise and pious matrons. New York: Teachers College Press.

Nidiffer, J. (2002). The first deans of women: What we can learn from them. About Campus, 6 (6), 10-16.

Nidiffer, J., & Bashaw, C. T. (Eds.) (2001). Women administrators in higher education: Historical and contemporary perspectives. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Schwartz, R. A. (2003). The rise and demise of deans of men. Review of Higher Education, 26, 217-239.

Talbot, M. (1936). More than lore: Reminiscences of Marian Talbot, dean of women, the University of Chicago, 1892-1925. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

The National Student Affairs Archives (NSAA) is located at Bowling Green State University,



Website © 2003-2005 Janice J. Gerda. Please cite this page or the original documents.