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Early and Mid-Century

Graduate Students, 1910-1969

Learn more about Northwestern's female graduate students from the start of the 20th century, including the degrees earned and areas of scholarly interest.

Alice Maude Monk (1913)

Alice Maude Monk received her Master of Arts in 1913.

Alice Maude Monk was born on March 14, 1872 in Onawa. She went to Jefferson High School in Chicago. At Northwestern, Monk received a Ph.B. and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She was graduate student in Social Philosophy (in absentia) from 1898-1899. From 1899-1900, she was a resident graduate student in same subject. At the same time (1898-1899), Monk worked as a teacher in Wilton Junction Academy. She taught in Chicago public schools, from January through June of 1900. Monk was also a teacher of stenography in the Commercial Department at Albion College in Michigan from 1900-1902. She went on to become the General Secretary of the Rochester Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) from 1902-1903.

After receiving her degree, Monk became a Presbyterian missionary in Japan. She worked in Sapporo, Japan, through the YWCA. 

Gertrude Carman Bussey (1915)

in 1915, Bussey became the first recipient of a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Northwestern.

Gertrude Bussey first attended Barnard College before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1908 from Wellesley College. After graduate study at Columbia University in 1908-1909 and teaching at a private school in Bronxville she went on to do further study at Oxford University during 1912-14. She then went to Northwestern University, where she received her PhD in 1915.

Throughout her life, Bussey was actively involved in the fight for economic and social justice, peace, and above all, freedom. She was most devoted to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Bussey was an original member of WILPF's Baltimore branch and went on to serve as its Chairperson. On behalf of WILPF, Bussey traveled the Midwest giving lectures about education's connection to war and peace.

Northwestern's WiPhi (Women In Philosophy) group hosts an annual lecture by a distinguished female philosopher known as the 'Gertrude Bussey Lecture.'


Mary Constance Blair (1922)

Blair received her PhD in Ecology in 1922. 

Mary Constance Blair (1877-1955) was a professor of botany at Northwestern University. There, she had earned an M.A. in 1918 and a Ph.D. in ecology in 1922, the first such degree awarded at the school. 


Sui Wang (1924)

Wang received her PhD in Education in 1924.

Sui Wang graduated from Albion College in 1913 with a B.A in Education. She went on to receive her PhD at Northwestern. Her dissertation was titled, “The Standardization of Tests for Musical Capacity in the Educational Laboratory of Northwestern University.” Wang returned to China once she received her PhD. There, she was a member of the Tenching faculty at Peking University in Beijing. 


Kathryn Trimmer Abbey (1926)

Abbey received her PhD in History in 1926.

Kathryn Trimmer Abbey was a Professor at Florida State College for Women (now FSU). Her work focused on the relationship between humans and nature. Abbey advocated for a more progressive view of the environment. Specifically, she encouraged the preservation and conservation of Florida’s landscapes and natural resources. Abbey was the director of the Florida Historical Society, and has a park in Jacksonville named after her.


May Wood-Simons (1930)

May Wood-Simons received her PhD in Economics in 1930.

May Wood-Simons was born in Wisconsin on May 10, 1876 and died on December 3, 1948. She was an American writer, teacher, and socialist. Wood was also the translator of several books by German-speaking European Marxists, including Wilhelm Liebknecht and Karl Kautsky. Wood was married to Algie Martin Simons, with whom she documented lecture tours and socialist gatherings in the United States and abroad. She worked on the editorial staff of the Chicago Daily Socialist and the Milwaukee Leader. Her writings are held by the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Mabel Agnes Elliott (1930)

Elliott received her PhD in Sociology in 1930.

Mabel Agnes Elliott: Pioneering Feminist and Pacifist Sociologist provides a history of the life and career of the late Mabel Agnes Elliott (1898-1990). She was a pioneering female sociologist largely forgotten despite her achievements and contributions. A native of Iowa, Elliott earned three degrees in Sociology from Northwestern University. In addition to her career as a sociologist, she was a feminist and a pacifist whose occasional criticism of criminal policies in the United States led to the creation of an FBI file. Despite being largely disregarded by her male colleagues, Elliott wrote a wildly successful textbook, Social Disorganization, that published four editions over thirty years.

After starting her career at the University of Kansas and working there for twenty years, she moved to Chatham College in Pennsylvania in 1949 where she was appreciated for her singular abilities. Among her many achievements, she was the first woman to be elected President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 1957.


Phoebe Jeanette Crittenden (1932)

Crittenden received her PhD in Sociology in 1932.

Phoebe Jeanette Crittenden was born on August 14, 1889 and died May 13, 1991. She was a ggraduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Medical School, with bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in science. Crittenden was a ffaculty member of the Dept. of Physiology and Pharmacology at Northwestern University Medical School in the mid-late 1930s. She also worked at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research in New Jersey in the mid-late 1940s. Crittenden ended her career as a college professor, retiring from Goucher College, in Baltimore. Her research focused on pancreatic secretions, renal excretions, and amino acids.

Crittenden was a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Physiological Society, the Society for Experimental Biology in Medicine, the American Society of Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the Society of Sigma XI.


Vivian Virginia Volstorff (1933)

Volstorff received a Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy in 1933.

Vivian Virginia Volstorff graduated from Elgin, Illinois High School and received an associate degree from Elgin Junior College before attending Northwestern University where she received three degrees—Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. She joined the South Dakota State University [SDSU] faculty in 1932, and was the Dean of Women, Director of Student Activities, and professor of history.

Volstorff is responsible for establishing several organizations for women at South Dakota State University; including Mortar Board and two national social sororities. She was the originator of Women's Day at the university, a day when women were honored and scholarships awarded. The event became a tradition soon
after she established it in 1934, and was continued until 1970. Volstorff held membership in several organizations, including the American Historical Association, National Association of Deans of Women and Counselors, Phi Kappa Phi, and an honorary membership in Mortar Board. She was also a very active
member in the Brookings Branch of American Association of University Women AAUW). She thought AAUW was so important that she worked to get the university accredited in order the make the Brookings Branch official. Volstorff was well known throughout South Dakota as a speaker in the field of international affairs and contemporary university students. 


Helen Corbin Monchow (1937)

Monchow received her PhD in Economics in 1937.

Helen Corbin Monchow was a land economist and professor at Northwestern who died December 23, 1950. Monchow was a record clerk from 1920-1922 in Cleveland, an assistant city secretary from 1922-1926 at the Womens City Club in Cleveland, and a research assistant and assistant editor from 1926-1931 for the Journal of Land and Public Utility Economics in Chicago. Seventy Years of Real Estate Subdividing in the Region of Chicago is one of her published works.


Elizabeth Teter Lunn (1939)

Lunn received a PhD of Biology in 1939.

Elizabeth Teter Lunn was a female pioneer in the field of Biology at Lake Forest College and chair of the Biology department in the 1950s. Throughout her unremitting and passionate teaching career she assiduously presided over and put together a large portion of Lake Forest's current herbarium collection. Dr. Kenneth Weik, Professor of Biology Emeritus, worked with Elizabeth Lunn within the biological boundaries of Lake Forest College. Together they contributed scores of specimens to the herbarium, teaching and training students the art and science of herbaria design.


Helen Reynolds Belyea (1940)

Belyea received her PhD of Geology in 1940.

Born on February 11, 1913, Helen Reynolds Belyea was a Canadian geologist best known for her research in Western Canada, of the Devonian System, a geologic period of the Paleozoic era. Before she devoted herself to geology, Belyea worked as a high school teacher and served as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy.

During 1945, Geological Survey of Canada hired Belyea to become a technologist. A few years later, in 1947, she was given a new job as a geologist. Three years later in 1950, Belyea was sent to monitor an oil discovery in Leduc, Alberta, making her the first female Canadian Geological Survey geologist to work in the field alongside only men. Soon after, the Geological Survey opened an office in Calgary. This office eventually led to the creation, in 1967, of the Institute of Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology.

Belyea wrote over 30 scientific papers. Her first paper, on facies relations and reef-off-reef sequences in the upper Devonian, was published in Geological Survey of Canada in 1952. She is known best for contributing to the volume on "Geological History of Western Canada," which is known as "The Atlas." She specifically contributed on the region west of Hay River and south of the Mackenzie, and her knowledge of the regional geology helped produce a synthesis for the Devonian rocks of that region.

Viola Ruth Dunbar Davee (1942)

Davee received her PhD of English in 1942.

Viola Ruth Dunbar Davee was born on April 9, 1912 and died at age 99 on April 19, 2011. She earned her MA in 1937 and her Ph.D. in English Literature in 1942, graduating with honors from Northwestern University. Her dissertation was on Henry James.

Davee taught at the Polytechnic Institute (later Inter American University) in Puerto Rico, where she taught English as a second language. While there, she co-authored a text book entitled Remedial English for Spanish Speaking Students. Davee then taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan, and Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Davee also worked at Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper. From 1950 to 1952, she was first a copy reader, then moved to the copy desk and finally to the city room as a general reporter. From 1952 – 1968, she was an education writer and originated the position of Education Editor. In 1955, Davee researched and wrote several in-depth stories about how schools teach reading. She earned the 1955 Marshall Field Award for her outstanding editorial contributions. That same year, she also received the Education Writers Association Award, and the “Why Johnny Can’t Read – or Can He?” news stories were recognized as “the most outstanding series of articles on educational subjects of national importance in 1955.”


Miriam Simons Leuck (1942)

Miriam Simons Leuck received her PhD of History in 1942. She was the daughter of May Woods Simons (PhD '1930).

Lorraine H. Morton (1942)

Morton received her Masters in Education Curriculum in 1942. 

Lorraine H. Morton was Evanston's first African-American mayor, first Democratic mayor in more than 100 years, and longest-serving mayor. She is also notable for spearheading the desegregation of Evanston's public schools as a teacher and school principal. Hired in 1953 to teach in Evanston/Skokie District 65’s then all-black Foster Elementary School, Morton broke the color barrier in 1957 as the first African American to teach in a white-majority Evanston school (Nichols Middle School).

In 2014, Morton donated her papers to Northwestern, the Evanston History Center and Shorefront, a trove of letters, newspaper clippings, speech texts and campaign materials documenting her years of service in Evanston.

Morton died on September 8, 2018, at the age of 99. A 2018 documentary depicted her life story, titled Lorraine H. Morton: A Life Worthwhile.


Barbara Roth (1942)

Roth received her PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1942.


Marion Dell Wetzel (1944)

Wetzel received her PhD in Mathematics in 1944.

Marion Dell Wetzel's dissertation was on the analytic theory of positive-definite J-fractions. In 1946 Wetzel joined the faculty at Denison where she remained until her retirement in 1986. She was a member of the American Mathematical Society since 1942.


Anne Stewart Youmans (1946)

Youmans received her PhD in Medicine in 1946.

Anne Stewart Youmans was born on September 26, 1916. She was a research microbiologist, diplomate of the American Board of Microbiology, and 1970 recipient of the Pasteur award from the Illinois Society of Microbiology. Youmans was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Microbiology. She was a member of the American Association of Immunologists, American Society Microbiology, Reticuo-endotheral Society, and Sigma Xi.


Ethel Mabel Barber (1947)

Barber Received her PhD in Speech in 1947.

Ethel Mabel Barber (née Schoenbaum) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 9, 1914. She studied music in her youth but majored in mathematics and economics at Milwaukee-Downer College (now merged with Lawrence University), graduating in 1934. During the 1940s, she was an instructional assistant in Northwestern University's Department of Interpretation in the School of Speech (now School of Communication) and concurrently took graduate classes. The first woman to earn a doctorate from the School of Speech, Barber received a Ph.D. in 1947 with a dissertation titled “The Analysis for Oral Interpretation of the Dramatic Elements in Milton's Paradise Lost.”


Mary Anne Player (1947)

Player received her PhD in Philosophy in 1948.

Born June 6, 1920, Mary Anne Player was an American biology educator. She was named the 1988-1989 Distinguished Professor of City Colleges of Chicago, and in 1990 she was the recipient of the Center Region Faculty Member award by the Association of Community College Trustees.


Elise Stearns Hahn (1948)

Hahn received her PhD in Speech (Communication Science and Disorders) in 1947.

Elise Stearns Hahn was a specialist in areas of articulation, cleft palate, and voice, who co-edited a well known book on stuttering with Eugene Hahn (1956). Hahn obtained her BA from UCLA in 1932 and her MA from Wayne University in Detroit in 1942. Her Ph.D. was from Northwestern University in 1947. Her masters thesis had to do with speech improvement in the classroom. Her PhD thesis was titled: "The Speech of First Grade Children in Audience Situations." She was an in instructor of speech at UCLA in 1948 to 1964, where she served as the director the Articulation and Voice Division of the UCLA Speech Clinic. From 1963 to 1977 she was on the faculty of the Speech Department at California State University. Hahn was married to Eugene Hahn, an expert in stuttering, who died in 1944 of pneumonia when he was in the Navy during World War II. They had one son, Eugene Hahn, who was born several months after his father died. Hahn helped establish the Cleft Palate Team at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.


Geneva Herndon (1949)

Herndon received her PhD in Theatre in 1949.

Born April 30, 1899, Geneva Herndon taught in a rural school near Amy , TX and at high schools in Gove, Syracuse and Sublette. In 1933, she became Dean of Women and Instructor of Theater at Dodge City Junior College. She was an assistant professor in speech-theater at Fort Hays Kansas State College. In 1950, Herndon taught the first course in speech correction at FHSU and continued to develop the curriculum. She retired in 1969. An annual scholarship in Herndon's honor was established at the time of her retirement. The university speech-language-hearing clinic was named in her honor in 1986. She was a charter member of the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association, serving as secretary-treasurer from 1960-62. In 1966, Herndon was one of the first individuals to be awarded the honors of the association for her work. In 1968, she served as president for the association.


Ella Haith Weaver (1950)

Weaver received her PhD in Speech (Communication Sciences and Disorders) in 1950.

Ella Haith Weaver directed the Speech Therapy Training Program at Brooklyn College for 18 years and was the wife of Robert C. Weaver, a Cabinet member during the Johnson Administration. Weaver is believed to have been the first black woman to earn a doctorate in her field, speech correction, audiology and linguistics. Weaver graduated from Carnegie Tech in 1932. She taught in speech departments at Roosevelt College in Chicago and Howard University in Washington, as well as Brooklyn College. Weaver then moved to Washington DC where she served as a consultant to the Women's Job Corps, the National Advisory Research Council of the Institute of Dental Research and the Children's Hearing and Speech Center, an affiliate of Children's Hospital.


Erika Eichhorn Bourguignon (1951)

Bourguignon attended Queens College, City University of New York, where she took classes with the anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker. After receiving a B.A. from Queens College in 1945, she began graduate studies at Northwestern University, studying under Melville J. Herskovits and Alfred Irving Hallowell. She did field research among the Chippewa in Wisconsin and in Haiti (1947-48).


Winifred Ingram (1951)

Ingram received her PhD in Clinical Psychology in 1951.

Winifred Ingram earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree with a major in sociology in the spring of 1937. She soon earned her graduate degree in 1938 under the same major of sociology both degrees were earned at the University of Washington. Ingram continued her education earning her doctoral degree in 1951 from Northwestern University majoring in clinical psychology; her dissertation work and product was in the study of the Prediction of aggression from the Rorschach test.

During her educational pursuits Ingram earned the University of Washington Community scholarship in 1933-34. In 1946 through 1949 she was assigned to the Northwestern University Department of Psychology Teaching Assistant. It was in 1948 while a teaching assistant Ingram began her fellowship in Clinical Psychology at Northwestern University for the U. S. Public Health Service where she served until 1950. Additionally in 1948 she earned her Sigma Xi honorary status from the National Science Honor Society.


Nancy Oestreich Lurie (1952)

Lurie received her PhD in Anthropology in 1952.

Nancy Oestreich Lurie was an American anthropologist who specialized in the study of North American Indian history and culture. Lurie’s research specialties were ethnohistory, action anthropology and museology; her focus was on North American Indians, especially the Ho-Chunk (aka Winnebago) and the Dogrib (Tlicho) of the Canadian NWT; and the comparative study of territorial minorities.

During the mid-20th century, Lurie represented several tribes as an expert witness at a time of Native American activism when tribes were pressing to make claims for compensation of lands they were forced to cede and for which they did not receive adequate payment. Her experience with ethnohistory enabled her to research documentation that helped represent their claims.


Mary Alice McWhinnie (1952)

McWhinnie received her PhD in Biology in 1952.

Mary Alice McWhinnie was an American biologist, professor at DePaul University and an authority on krill from Chicago, Illinois. She was the first woman to sail for two months in Antarctic waters aboard the NSF's research vessel, USNS Eltanin. The National Science Foundation eventually allowed her to winter over at McMurdo Station and in 1974, she became the first American woman to serve as chief scientist at an Antarctic research station.


Dorothy Hansen Eichorn (1952)

Dorothy Hansen Eichorn was a noted developmental psychologist and organizational leader. She was involved in several notable studies in development, the most significant being her role in the Berkeley Growth Study, which continued for five decades. Dorothy was active in several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association (APA), where she served on its Board of Directors, as well as president of APA Division 7 (Developmental Psychology). She also served as president of the Western Psychological Association. But her most important organizational contribution came through the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD).


Neena Betty Schwartz (1953)

Neena Better Scwartz received her PhD in Physiology in 1953. She was the only female PhD student in the department at the time.

Neena Better Schwartz was an American endocrinologist and William Deering Professor of Endocrinology Emerita in the Department of Neurobiology. She was best known for her work on female reproductive biology and the regulation of hormonal signaling pathways, particularly for the discovery of the signaling hormone inhibin.

Schwartz was an active feminist advocate for women in science throughout her career; she was a founding member of the Association for Women in Science organization in 1971 and shared the founding presidency with Judith Pool. She also co-founded the Women in Endocrinology group under the auspices of the Endocrine Society, served terms as the president of the Endocrine Society and the Society for the Study of Reproduction, and was recognized for her exceptional mentorship of women scientists.


Margaret M. O’Dwyer (1954)

Evelyn M. Yellow Robe (1954)

The daughter of a Sioux chief, Evelyn M. Yellow Robe remained deeply committed to her culture throughout her time at college and into her adulthood, where she worked to promote appropriate Native American representation in film through service on the board of the National Film Committee sponsored by the Association on American Indian Affairs. She also served as a professor of speech pathology at both Mount Holyoke College in the Spring of 1942/43 and Vassar College beginning in 1944. 


Iris Virginia Cully (1955)

Cully received her PhD in Religion in 1955.

Iris Virginia Cully was a writer and professor whose influence, beginning in the late 1950s, helped promote a renewed emphasis on the role of Scripture at the center of Christian education. Cully was the first woman to earn a doctorate in religion from Northwestern University, the first woman on faculty at Yale Divinity School, the first professor in any Disciples of Christ school, and the first woman president of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education.


Ethel Wright Kunkle (1955)

Kunkle received her EdD in 1955.

Ann Lindstaedt Copple (1956)

Copple received her PhD in Romance Languages in 1956.

In 1949 she earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. This was followed in 1951 with a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a PhD in romance languages from Evanston, Illinois’ Northwestern University in 1956. Her studies and research for the doctorate included post-graduate work in Russian language and literature, and were supported by a Northwestern University fellowship.

She served on panels in New York and Washington, DC for grant awards by the US Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and as a clinical supervisor and teacher trainer for the Cal State University system and Claremont Graduate School. She also published articles on foreign language teaching, resources and technology.

She retired from full time teaching in 2000, but continued part time at Claremont Adult School through 2007, where she taught French, Russian, and Latin. She also taught Latin at Indianapolis’ The Oaks Academy in 2008.


Eva Dreikurs Ferguson (1956)

Ferguson received her PhD in Psychology in 1956.

Eva Dreikurs Ferguson is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Divisions 1 and 8, and is a founding member and Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. She is a life member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Psychonomic Society, and Sigma Xi. In 2016, she received the Adlerian Psychology Teaching Award and assumed the additional title of "Distinguished Scholar", based on her many years of scholarship in diverse areas of psychology and based especially on her leadership and research in Adlerian psychology. She has been Visiting Professor at the University of Vermont, Northwestern University, and University of California Berkeley.


Margaret Virginia Cubine (1956)

Cubine received her PhD from Garrett Theological Seminary in 1956.


Martha T. Mednick (1956)

Mednick received her PhD in Psychology in 1956.

In 1972 Martha T. Mednick became involved with the Committee on Women in Psychology of the American Psychological Association.  She was an instrumental figure in the founding of Division 35, now the Society for the Psychology of Women. Her published research has focused on the influence of gender, class, and race on achievement motivation. She has consistently argued that feminist psychologists need to acknowledge their ideological and political goals in order to enact meaningful change through their research and practice. She also served as president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). She served as co-editor (with Sandra Tangri) of the first issue of SPSSI's Journal of Social Issues on the psychology of women. Their 1972 issue was entitled "New Perspectives on Women."

Now retired and dividing her time between Washington, DC and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Mednick remains active in professional organizations such as Psychologists for Social Responsibility.  While Mednick describes her dedication to psychology as an "accident", it is no accident that she has been instrumental in the field.  Her passion and dedication to social responsibility has formed her reputation as a pioneer of the psychology of women. 


Mary Rose Costello (1957)

Costello received her PhD in Philosophy in 1957.


Vera Stepen Pless (1957)

Pless received her PhD in 1957.

Vera Stepen Pless was born on March 5, 1931 in Chicago, IL. She wrote her dissertation on "Quotient Rings of Continuous Transformation Groups." In addition to her PhD from Northwestern, Pless received her PhB from the University of Chicago in 1949. She is primarily employed at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Herta Engelman (1957)

Engelman received her PhD in Philosophy in 1956.


Margaret C. Byrne (1958)

Byrne received her PhD in Speech Pathology in 1958.

Margaret “Peg” Byrne Saricks, Professor Emerita in the Department of Speech-Language Hearing, taught for over 30 years at the University of Kansas. Byrne was a leader in the field of cleft palate research; she was also one of the earliest proponents of emphasizing language within the discipline, and her many activities and contributions to the field, Department, and the community were long-lasting.

Byrne received her BA degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Speech and English in 1939, and her MA and PhD degrees in Speech Pathology from Northwestern University in 1945 and 1958, respectively. From 1945-1952, she served as the Director of the Speech Clinic at Mount Mercy College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 


Margaret Louise Cuninggim (1958)

Cuninggim received her EdD in 1958.

Margaret Louise Cuninggim was an American university professor and administrator. She served as Dean of Women at the University of Tennessee from 1957 to 1966 and at Vanderbilt University from 1966 to 1973. Additionally, she served as the President of the Tennessee Association of Women's Deans from 1958 to 1960. The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center at Vanderbilt University in named in her honor.


Ellen Marie Spencer (1959)

Spencer received her PhD in Speech Pathology in 1958 with a dissertation on factors influencing speech learning in deaf children.


Wanda Ellen Brandstetter (1960)

Brandstetter received her PhD in Biology in 1960.

As a founding member of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Wanda Ellen Brandstetter worked tirelessly for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and in the pursuit of social justice for all.


Marie J. Robinson (1960)

Robinson received her PhD in 1960.