Harvard Women

Harvard Women
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, the first President of Harvard University in its history (Harvard was founded in 1636), announced that she would retire in 2018. Faust is one of the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I decided to investigate women alums of Harvard (and Radcliffe – the Harvard Annex – before Harvard admitted women) and profile them. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. After many years fighting for gender equity, she was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993.

____ 2. Post, essayist and feminist who is famously known for refusing the National Medal of Arts.

____ 3. Known to the public through the play and movie, The Miracle Worker, she demonstrated worldwide the capabilities of people with vision loss.

____ 4. The first woman of Asian descent to serve as a United States Ambassador.

____ 5. A poet and playwright, she coined the phrase “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”

A. Gertrude Stein

B. Helen Keller

C. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

D. Adrienne Rich

E. Julia Chang Bloch

Poet, playwright and art collector Gertrude Stein attended Radcliffe College from 1893-1897 and studied psychology. She then attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine but was not really interested in medicine and eventually withdrew from the institution. In 1903, she moved to Paris, where her apartment became the gathering place for many young aspiring artists and authors of the day. Her first book was published in 1909. Her 1933 book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, became a bestseller and brought her fame. Her two best known quotes are “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” and “there is no there there.”

Helen Keller, whose story is well known to the public because of the play and move The Miracle Worker, graduated from Radcliffe in 1904. Left blind and deaf by an illness that struck her when she was 19 months old, Keller’s life took a most fortunate turn when Anne Sullivan (later Macy) arrived in 1887 as her teacher. Sullivan was able to reach Keller in a way that no one had been able to before and to get her to understand language. With Sullivan’s help, Keller also began a writing career. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was published in 1903. An advocate and social activist, she worked for women’s suffrage, labor reform, and rights for persons with disabilities. Keller worked worldwide on behalf of people with vision loss. Today, the American Foundation for Overseas Blind is Helen Keller International. Both Keller and Sullivan have been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Although it might be hard for women of 2017 to believe, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not find employment as an attorney after she graduated tied for first in her law school class, having been a member of the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review, but she was a woman, a mother and Jewish. She entered Harvard Law School in 1956 but completed her law education at Columbia Law School after her husband was offered a job in New York City. She spent time in academia and worked to advance the cause of gender equity. The first woman tenured at Columbia Law School, she later became the American Civil Liberties Union general counsel. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court and she was confirmed. Her honors include an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Harvard University and induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Poet, essayist and feminist, Adrienne Rich burst onto the literary scene with her first poetry collection, A Change of World, which was selected Yale Series of Young Poets Award. Rich graduated from Radcliffe where she studied poetry and writing. During her career, she taught at a variety of institutions including the City College of New York and Bryn Mawr College and received many awards for her work. She is very well known for having declined the award of the National Medal of Arts as a protest against a vote in the U.S. Congress to end the National Endowment of the Arts and the administration’s posture toward the arts.

The first U.S. Ambassador of Asian descent, Julia Chang Bloch earned a master’s degree in government and East Asian studies from Harvard University. Her career in government service culminated in her appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Nepal by President George H.W. Bush, a position that she held from 1989 – 1993. She is an active advocate of expanding American and Chinese academic collaborations and founded the U.S.- China Education Trust, an educational non-profit that sponsors academic exchange programs for American and Chinese scholars. Bloch currently serves as the Trust’s president.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These Harvard women are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and write women back into history. I stand on their shoulders.

(Answers 1-C, 2-D, 3-B, 4-E, 5-A)

Before You Go

Popular in the Community