The Class of 1974

First (Cisgender) Women Admitted

The title page of the student handbook produced for the Class of 1969, printed on yellow paper with garnet lettering that reads "Student Life - A Guide for Students at Union College - Schenectady, New York."

Union's institutional memory will tell you that the Class of 1974, arriving on campus in September of 1970, hosted the very first women full-time students [1]. 


However, alumna Laura Craig, Class of 1969, shows us otherwise. Laura is a trans woman - the earliest trans alum that we know of [2]. She was not out during her time at Union, and in fact would not begin presenting as a woman until much later in her life. Our archives do not currently maintain records of Laura of any kind - something that needs to change. 


The greatest insight into her time here that is currently housed in Special Collections and Archives is the Class of 1969 Freshman Handbook, found in the Vertical File for the class.


The handbook required very gender normative dress on campus at all times (page 13), and had strict rules for times when "women guests" were permitted on campus (page 14). This gives some insight into the stifling environment that encouraged conformity which Laura Craig found herself in when she arrived on campus in the mid 1960s. 

Page 13 of the student handbook produced for the Class of 1969. This page details the rules of "conduct in residence halls," including proper dress code and a list of prohibited activities and behaviors. 

Page 13


Students must be properly attired at all times in public areas and must conduct themselves in accordance with the general obligations placed on them as members of the College community.




A coat, slacks, dress shirt, and tie must be worn at dinner in West College. At all other meals, a collared shirt and slacks will suffice.

Page 14 of the student handbook produced for the Class of 1969. This page details "student social regulations" and lists out the permitted "visiting hours for women guests."

Page 14


Necessarily, life in a community entails some restrictions, but the restrictions need not be onerous, and their strict enforcement will in the long run provide the best guarantee for success of the rather free arrangements the rules make possible.


Women guests may be entertained in first floor dormitory lounges and public rooms of fraternities during the following times when the College is in session...Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 12:00 midnight. Friday and Saturday from 8:00 am to 3:00 am. The first floor lounge in West College only will be open every evening until 3:00 a.m. to provide powder room facilities for women guests.

[1] Dudden, Faye, ed. Wayne Somers. 2003. The Encyclopedia of Union College History, "Women at Union," page 797.

[2] March 21, 2023. "Alumna to Speak March 31, Trans Day of Visibility," retrieved from the Union College News Archive. 

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