It was a great day, when in Newark, anyone who was anybody, gathered for the dedication of the Women’s College and the installation of Dean Winifred Robinson, Ph.D. It was October 10th 1914, and the two buildings, then named Residence and Science Hall had just been completed, and the contractor officially handed keys over to the new President. Mitchell’s installation had taken place that very morning, and he, in turn, handed the keys to Dean Robinson. (Read more about this great day in chapter 3 of Beneath Thy Guiding Hand: A History of Women at the University of Delaware by Carol E. Hoffecker.)
It was only a year earlier, in March 1913, that Mrs. Warner beseechingly asked in a poster addressed “TO THE PEOPLE OF DELAWARE, DO YOU KNOW-That Delaware is the only state without an institution of higher education for women?” She and other committee members of the women’s clubs throughout the state, along with the former Delaware College President Harter, and a few faculty from the men’s college, lobbied the legislature, raised funds, and had the Women’s College built in a matter of months.
At the dedication pictured here Mrs. Warner showed the pen that the Governor had used on March 31st 1913 to sign the bill for the creation and funding of the Women’s College. She then held up the spade used in June 1913 to break ground for construction. Now just over a year later Mrs. Warner thanked all the donors who provide furnishings from chairs to potted plants, and declared: “Veritably the Women’s College may be called the House of Gifts and it shall become an everlasting Power House from which shall radiate light, culture, and true progress from which life shall “flow more abundantly.” (The Blue Hen 1915)
Recently our freshmen in the Material Culture Living Learning Community toured the original buildings with UD Archives Coordinator, Lisa Gensel, and she described the 1914 dedication ceremony, and how it had been a splendid day. As we huddled under umbrellas, the rain intensified, and Lisa reminded us that in 1914, from these two buildings, now called Warner and Robinson Halls, you had an unobstructed view to Main Street. She said imagine the muddy mess if it had rained the day of the dedication! No paved roads or walkways, no buildings or gardens all the way up to Main Street – it was an expansive empty field. Such a dramatic contrast she painted of the barren campus one hundred years ago and now.
The Material Culture Living Learning Community is new to campus this year and is centered in Lane Hall dormitory. Students from Anthropology, Art History and Art Conservation are participating in student engagement activities sponsored by faculty and older students within each of the majors. The creation of this blog featuring the Women’s College and women in general at the University of Delaware is a part of their UNIV 101 requirement and one of several service projects for this Living Learning Community.
Stay tuned as we regularly add to this blog in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Women’s College.