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The Early Years

Graduate Students, 1869-1909

Learn more about Northwestern's first female graduate students, including the degrees earned and areas of scholarly interest.

Fanny Gates (1895)

Gates received her B.S. in 1894 and Master of Letters in 1895.

Gates was an American physicist, an American Physical Society fellow and American Mathematical Society member. She made contributions to the research of radioactive materials, determining that radioactivity could not be destroyed by heat or ionization due to chemical reactions, and that radioactive materials differ from phosphorescent materials both qualitatively and quantitatively. More specifically, Gates showed that the emission of blue light from quinine was temperature dependent, providing evidence that the emitted light is produced from phosphorescence rather than radioactive decay. She also served as head of the Physics department at Goucher, Professor of Physics and Dean of Women at Grinnell College, and the Dean of Women at the University of Illinois.


Alice Gabrielle Twight (1898)

Twight received her PhD in Romance Languages in 1898.

Born July 17, 1868 in Marseilles, France, Alice Gabrielle Twight graduated from Northwestern with a PhD in Romance Languages. Her dissertation was titled "Women of the Seventeenth Century Classical Theatre, as Seen by the Nineteenth Century." Twight's work has been preserved in the book "French Prose Compilation" by Trieste Publishing. Twight died January 24, 1917. Her daughter Miette Brugnot, ward of Mr. and Mrs. E.P. Baillot, of Evanston, IL was engaged to Mr. John Booth Denell, son of Major and Mrs. R.A. Dennell, of Evanston. 


Elfrieda Hochbaum (1899)

Hochbaum received her Masters of Philosophy in 1899.

Elfrieda Hochbaum focused on women teachers and equal pay in her writing. She has a collection of published and unpublished manuscripts of novels and short stories. This includes Burning Arrows, her autobiography; The Deer, a semi-fictional account of Zina Dusenberry, a farmer who lived in Dusenberry Hollow, Dryden, New York, including an epilogue by Hochbaum's daughter, Elfrieda Pope Bestelmeyer; and other works. Recently, 36 of Hochbaum's notebooks have also been recovered. 


Estella May Boot (1909)

Boot recieved her Master of the Arts in 1909.

Boot was a Professor of English at the University of Iowa from 1917-1949. She worked primarily with graduate students from other countries, helping them individually on language problems and in writing theses and doctoral dissertations. Boot was President of AAUW Iowa City Branch from 1932-1934 and had the Iowa City AAUW award named after her.