Once upon a time, Boston University was known across the country for its revolutionary decision to admit women to its academic programs. The following mention of this laudable history comes from the 1888 bookYoung People’s New Pictorial Library of Poetry and Prose: embracing history, biography, poems, stories, travels and adventures (from a chapter about the life of philanthropist Johns Hopkins):
We are living in an age of remarkable wealth, and remarkable business success, and of equally remarkable gift-giving and benefactions. Mr. Otis of Connecticut gives a million dollars to carry to gospel to the heathen; Mr. Slater, of the same State, a million to educate the colored people at the South; Mr. Durant a million to Wellesley College for the education of young women; Leonard Case, of Cleveland, Ohio, a million and a half to a School of Science; Mr. Rich two millions to Boston University where young women share equally with young men the benefits of higher education.
Some highlights of this under-promoted aspect of our campus heritage:
- In 1864, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to receive a medical degree in the country. (She earned this degree from New England Female Medical College, originally Boston Female Medical College, which merged with Boston University School of Medicine in 1873.)
- Helen Magill White (pictured above) was the first woman in the US to earn a PhD; she was awarded her doctorate in Greek from BU in 1877.
…. and heeeeere’s a bit of BU history which is going to be less rousing for those of us interested in gender equality:
- Suzanne Venker (SED ’90) teamed up antifeminist icon Phyllis Shlafly (Venker’s aunt), to write The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know—and Men Can’t Say (WND Books, 2011). According to BU Today, the book “seeks to liberate women from ‘feminism’s dead-end road’.”
Bonus: over at BUniverse, you can view a video profiling the above-mentioned Isaac Rich, after whom the West Campus dorm is named, and whose generosity helped found the modern BU.