Northwestern University began admitting women in 1869, at the insistence of University President Erastus Otis Haven, a strong supporter of higher education for women. At the time, there were only a few co-educational universities in the United States and college-level education for women was still considered a new and somewhat revolutionary concept. In 1874, Sarah Rebecca Roland (pictured at right) became the first woman graduate of Northwestern University. Since then, most aspects of women’s lives at Northwestern have changed dramatically. Read a brief history of coeducation at Northwestern.
The University Archives holds many resources that document the lives of Northwestern women, past and present, students, faculty, faculty wives, and administrators. Collections of personal papers and organizational records illuminate the life of specific women and the activities they were involved in. Scrapbooks and diaries provide a very personal look at students’ lives, and subject files focus on one organization or event.
The following list includes just some of the resources available in the University Archives . Other materials such as photographs, serial publications, artifacts, even course catalogs all shed light on women' experiences at Northwestern.
Note: Under the heading "Collections," links are included for collections for which the finding aid is available online in pdf format. Finding aids act as a guide to the contents of the collection. Paper versions of finding aids to all collections of papers and records in the University Archives are located in the Archives' Reading Room (110 Deering Library).
COLLECTIONS: PERSONAL PAPERS
COLLECTIONS: DIARIES AND SCRAPBOOKS (mostly kept by students)
COLLECTIONS: ORGANIZATIONAL RECORDS
Faculty Biographical Files
University Buildings - Evanston
School of Medicine -- Woman's Medical College
Student Activities and Organizations