Pillars and Walls: Celebrating the contributions of women in the making of Union College

Unidentified woman crosses bridge at Jackson Garden, undated. Image from the Picture File, (SCA-1026). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

This exhibit was inspired by the 50 year anniversary of coeducation and celebrates the impact women have made throughout the course of Union's history. Women have long been involved in the history of this institution, influencing its structure through contributions to areas such as labor, finances, and educational developments, among others. These contributions have not always been at the forefront of the historical record, but they have been instrumental, visible or not. As women have encountered boundaries, they have exposed and challenged them.  As a consequence, many of their roles within education have been reconfigured, and now it has been fifty years that they are able to enjoy the full range of the educational experience while supporting it for the entire Union College community. “Pillars and Walls,” from the title of the exhibit, refers to the way in which women have always been central to the infrastructure of the college from the time of its founding through to the present, even during times that they might have been facing obstacles. We hope to celebrate their contributions and recognize their influence in the formation of the college of today. We now understand that coeducation can benefit all students through sharing the full spectrum of the human experience which can foster and inspire creativity and serve to enrich the exploratory spirit. For the last fifty years, women have continued to reshape expectations and define themselves rather than allowing their roles to be defined for them; in this exhibit, I have selected a few stories, trying to focus upon women and issues that have not received as much recognition to date. In order to highlight their historical contributions, and I have provided some context for these stories.

Andrea Belair, Librarian for Archives and Special Collections

Thank you to Becky Fried, Matthew Golebiewski, Jennifer Byrd, Marlaine Deschamps, Frances Maloy, Julie Lohnes, Sarah Mottalini, Joanna DiPasquale, Deirdre Hill-Butler, Therese McCarty and Gretchel Hathaway of Union College, and to Tonia Loran-Galban of the Ganondagan State Historic Site.

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