Women in History

  • Anita M. Kellogg was a staff member in Physical Education beginning in 1893. She acted as the Director of Physical Culture for Women, as well as an instructor in elocution. As one of the very first female staff members at the University, she taught all courses offered by the...
  • Jennette E. C. Lincoln was hired in 1898 as Director of Physical Training for Women and held this position until 1909. In 1913, she wrote The Festival Book: May Day Pastime and the May-Pole which described various dances and games to be used in schools. In the 1909 Illio, student...
  • Lucy Flower was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1895. She was the first female trustee and consequently, the first elected female official in the state of Illinois. Lucy was influential in gains for women at the University, including the hiring of female faculty, the creation...
  • Martha Jackson Kyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1897 and an AM in 1899, both in English/Rhetoric. After graduating in 1899, she was hired to teach English and Rhetoric courses to students. Martha was Acting Dean of Undergraduates in 1905-06, which also allowed her to sit...
  • Mary Louise Page graduated in 1878 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Engineering. Mary was the first female in the United States to graduate with an architecture degree. Later, she became active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.  
  • Violet DeLille Jayne was the first Dean of Women at the University of Illinois. She served on the Council of Administration and fought for women to be more independent in higher education. Violet was instrumental in establishing the Watcheka League (later known as the Woman’s...
  • Maudelle Brown Bousfield was the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Illinois. She graduated in 1906 with a degree in Mathematics. Later in life, Maudelle became the first female African American principal of a Chicago public school. Bousfield Hall in...
  • Barbara A. Yates was the founding and first Director of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (WGGP), serving from 1980 to 1985. She received her PhD in comparative education and history from Columbia University. She is a Professor Emerita in Comparative Education at...
  • Mary Busey was an influential member of the Board of Trustees from 1904 until 1930. Coming from a local well-known family, this allowed her to advance opportunities for female students. Mary was influential in establishing on-campus housing for women, and Busey Hall is named in her...
  • Laura B. Evans became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1903, one of the very first women to join the Board after Lucy Flower. Laura remained on the Board until her death in 1932. The Residence Hall Evans Hall is named in her honor.  
  • Isabel Bevier joined the Domestic Science department at the University of Illinois in 1900. Isabel industrialized the Home Economics Program at the University in a way that brought distinction to the school as a leader. In doing so, she revolutionized higher education for women. Bevier Hall on...
  • The Alma Mater Statue was built in 1916 and remains one of the most sought out women on campus. Lorado Taft and Rolan Conklin announced the gift of the bronze Alma Mater statue with the idea that she would be a foster mother for academic women throughout history, but also to all students on campus...
  • Dorothy Day was a student on campus from 1914 to 1916. While on campus she was a member of the hockey team and Scribbler’s Club. After leaving the University, Dorothy founded the Catholic Worker Movement and was a social justice crusader in the 1920s.  
  • Fanny Cook Gates earned a PhD in Physics in 1909 from the University of Pennsylvania when the nation’s annual production of physics PhD’s was about 10. In her research, Fanny demonstrated that radioactivity is not destroyed by either heat or ionization from chemical reactions. In 1916, she came to...
  • Lois Seyster Monstross graduated in 1919 and became a prominent author. While a student, she was involved in several organizations including Alpha Xi Delta, Scribbler’s Club, Mortarboard, Athenian, Glee Club, Student Council, Woman’s League, Illinois Magazine, Senior Class Day Committee, and...
  • Eleanor Frances Seiler earned her B.A degree in 1913 and M.A. in 1914 from the University of Denver. Two years after that, Seiler received her M.A. in physics from the University of Illinois with her thesis on the study of the electrodynamometer.  In June 1922, she received her PhD in physics with...
  • Beverly L. Greene graduated in 1936 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering, and in 1937, she earned a Master’s of Science degree in City Planning and Housing, both from the University of Illinois. After graduation, Beverly went on to work for the Chicago Housing Authority...
  • Helen Octavia Dickens graduated in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science and in 1934 with an MD. She was the first African American woman to be admitted to the American College of Surgeons. When she graduated in 1934, she was one of two women in her graduating class. Women featured in our weekly...
  • Helene Ruth Foellinger graduated in 1932 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. As a student, she was heavily involved in several organizations including Pi Beta Phi, Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Torch. She served on the student council for four years and as the women’s editor...
  • Jane Fauntz Manske graduated around 1932 with a degree in Art Education from the University of Illinois. Jane was a national champion swimmer and diver who competed for the USA Olympic team in 1928 and 1932, winning the bronze medal in springboard diving in 1932. In high school, Jane was unable to...
  • Natalia M. Belting received her Bachelor of Arts from Illinois in 1936 and her Master of Arts in 1937. Three years later, she joined the faculty of the History Department. She was the first woman promoted to Associate Professor, teaching from 1941 to 1985 and authoring several books during her...
  • Barbara “Bobbie” Crawford Johnson graduated in 1946 with a degree in General Engineering, the first woman to earn such a degree. After graduation, Bobbie went to work for North American Aviation later to become the Space Division of Rockwell International, where she worked on the Apollo missions....
  • Dorothy Martin Simon received her PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University in 1945. In 1968, she became the first female corporate officer for Avco Corporation. Eventually, Simon was promoted to Vice President in Charge of Research and Development, and helped develop the synthetic fiber Orlon...
  • Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, affectionately known as “Shorty,” graduated from U of I around 1949 and has been a longtime supporter of the University and of 4-H. She is a President’s Council Member and a Chancellor’s Circle Member. Eichelberger has been a leader and advocate for athletics, especially...
  • Marianne Ferber joined the Economics Department at the University around 1948 and became known for “feminist economics.” She was a Professor of Economics, and she also served as Head of Women’s Studies from 1979–1983 and from 1991–1993. During the 1970s, Ferber was a member of the Committee on the...