In the fall of 1870, a dozen years after the first women applied for admission, and more than half a century after its founding, the University of Michigan formally welcomed its first female students. Since that time, thousands of women have made their mark on the University. This exhibit is intended to highlight a few of the many pioneers, dedicated scholars, and supporters of this "dangerous experiment". Some of the names may be more familiar than others. Whether or not you are familiar with them, we invite you to visit the Bentley Historical Library to learn more about these women, and many who have followed them. When possible links have been provided to the online finding aids (guides to the material) for the collections. Reading the finding aids will give you an idea as to the type of papers, photographs, and other items archived for the women. If you have any questions or comments about the exhibit, please email our Reference Department (Bentley.firstname.lastname@example.org).
A native of Hinesburg, VT, Lucinda Stone was born September 30, 1814, the youngest of Aaron and Lucinda (Mitchell) Hinsdale's twelve children. She was educated at the Hinesburg Academy and Middlebury Female Seminary. At Hinesburg Lucinda studied alongside men preparing for college. Though she desired to follow them to college, she was not admitted to Vermont University. Lucinda taught at Burlington Female Seminary, a seminary at Middlebury, and in Natchez, MS.
Lucinda and James Stone were married in Grand Rapids in 1840. After living in Massachusetts, the couple returned to Michigan, where Dr. Stone was in charge of a branch of the University of Michigan, now Kalamazoo College. Mrs. Stone supervised the female students of the college. One of her pupils, Miss Madelon Stockwell, would become the first female student at the University of Michigan. In appreciation of her efforts to allow female students and faculty, Mrs. Stone was awarded an honorary Ph. D. from the University in 1890; she was the first woman to receive such an honor.
Mrs. Stone's intense interest in women's clubs earned her the nickname "Mother of Women's Clubs". The time Mrs. Stone spent in Mississippi shaped her attitude against slavery, and led her to the abolitionist movement. Additionally, her work as a suffragist created friendships between Mrs. Stone and national suffragist leaders such as Julia Ward Howe, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.Return to top
Eliza Sunderland, daughter of Amasa and Jane (Henderson) Read was born in Huntsville, IL on April 19, 1839. She ventured east to study at Mount Holyoke Seminary, and upon graduation returned to teach in the Midwest. In Aurora, IL, Eliza quite possibly became the first woman high school principal in the country.
Eliza married Jabez Sunderland in 1871. Together they would live in several cities, spending the greatest amount of time in Ann Arbor, MI. While in Ann Arbor, Mrs. Sunderland received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy.
Mr. Sunderland was a Unitarian pastor, and Mrs. Sunderland was very active in the church as well. The Unitarian church allowed women to be pastors, and though she was never one herself, Mrs. Sunderland gave numerous sermons from her husband's pulpit. It was written that no woman in the country was more popular as a speaker at Unitarian gatherings than Mrs. Sunderland. In 1893 she spoke at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago and received accolades from the Chicago Tribune.
Mrs. Sunderland was among the women for whom Lucinda Stone advocated a faculty position. Unfortunately the movement was not successful. Mrs. Stone was just one of many prominent women with whom Mrs. Sunderland was acquainted. Another achievement of Mrs. Sunderland's was being the first woman elected to the Hartford Board of School Visitors. She passed away before completing her term.
FINDING AID to the Eliza R. Sunderland papersReturn to top
Esther Boise Van Deman was born October 1, 1862 in South Salem, OH, the daughter of Joseph and Martha (Millspaugh) Van Deman. Ms. Van Deman received both her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Michigan, in 1891 and 1892 respectively. She received her doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1898. Over the years Van Deman taught at several schools, including Wellesley College, Mt. Holyoke College, and the University of Michigan.
Van Deman was an archaeologist, and the first woman to specialize in Roman field archaeology. Her preliminary publication was The Atrium Vestae (1909). Van Deman had attended a lecture in Rome two years beforehand, and had noticed that the bricks blocking a doorway were different than those of the rest of the structure. The differences in the building materials provided clues to the chronology of the building. She continued researching and publishing, and her methods were to become standard procedure.Return to top
Bertha Van Hoosen was born March 26, 1863 in Stoney Creek, MI. She was the daughter of Joshua and Sarah Taylor Van Hoosen. Dr. Van Hoosen received her bachelor's degree from Michigan in 1884. She was among the first women to graduate from the University of Michigan's medical school. A member of the class of 1888, Dr. Van Hoosen began her career in Chicago in 1892. She continued to practice there until age 88, a year before she died. Her professional affiliations included being the first president of the American Medical Women's Association. Additionally, she was the only woman of her time, other than Madam Marie Curie, elected an honorary member of the International Association of Medical Women.
Among Dr. Van Hoosen's many accomplishments was publishing the book Petticoat Surgeon, an autobiography. Topics included in the novel are 19th century Michigan farm life, important episodes in her career, and encounters with foreign physicians. A 1924 survey of Michigan's alumnae asked respondents to name the ten most outstanding women graduates. Dr. Van Hoosen was among those listed most often.Return to top