Homage to my grandmother on this International Women’s Day

IMG_0847

Ava Catherine Roberts Kinnison in 1908 with husband Charles and first child Hilda

On this International Women’s Day, I was thrilled to discover the Fifty-Eighth Catalogue of Ohio Wesleyan University, which lists my grandmother, Ava Catherine Roberts as a resident of Monnett Hall, and the recipient of the Degree of Bachelor of Literature in 1902.

The Catalogue states that at Monnett Hall “the rooms are furnished with the exception of bed clothing and towels.” And in addition to bringing their own linens, each student “should come provided with waterproof, umbrella, and overshoes; also tumbler, teaspoons, knife and fork, for use in her own room.” The regular expenses at that dormitory for women taking only literary studies was $60 to $70 and covered scholarship, incidental fee, board, room, light, and heat for a term of 12 weeks. If students took Music or Art, which I’m sure my grandmother did, expenses went up $15. This did not include books or washing. Books were $3 to $5 a term. Washing was $2.50 to $5 a term but “facilities are afforded whereby those who desire can do a part of their own laundry work.” A comment is made that “charges at Monnett Hall are low compared with the advantages and comforts offered…much lower than usual in colleges of like grade.” However “all extravagances in dress of habits of life is discouraged by the officers of the University, and we hope to have the hearty cooperation of patrons and students in this direction.” In addition, “on reaching Delaware, young women are expected to take a street car, or one of the hacks found at each train, and go directly to Monnett Hall. The hackman will see that the trunks are promptly delivered at the Hall.”

Ohio Wesleyan Female College was established in 1853. It was incorporated into the Ohio Wesleyan University in 1877 “to secure an equal educational opportunity with men” according to the Board Of Trustees minutes from June of 1877.

There were 828 men and 557 women in attendance at Ohio Wesleyan 1902—a significantly higher proportion of women than were in attendance at Stanford University when I was a Freshman in 1961.

Degrees achieved by women in 1902 at Ohio Wesleyan—one hundred and seventeen years ago!

  • Degree of Master of Music (2 of 18)
  • Degree of Bachelor of Arts (13 of 53)
  • Degree of Bachelor of Science (1 of 18) Martha Bellis Hixon (who appears to have also obtained her Master of Music!)
  • Degree of Bachelor of Literature (28 of 41) Highest percentage reflecting that this was the degree obtained primarily to teach. My grandmother taught English and German before her marriage.
  • Degree of Doctor of Medicine (4 of 30) Way to go Edith Crooks, Pearl Hahn, Margaret Alexander, and Elizabeth Weaver!

IMG_0848Ava Catherine taught English and German prior to her marriage to Charles Kinnison. They lived in Willoughby, Ohio and had two girls–Hilda born in 1908 and my mother, Ava Margaret, born in 1914 (seen at 17 standing in this photo).

IMG_0846My mother followed in her mother’s footsteps and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1937 with a Degree in Political Science.

Obtaining a PhD was mandatory considering the history of the women in my family!

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