On the October 2018 Townhouse Notes

Patricia Albjerg Graham | Jan 11, 2019

To the editor:

I was both surprised and pleased to see “Townhouse Notes: Reading the Rose Report in 2018” (Perspectives, October 2018), about the 1970 Report of the American Historical Association Committee on the Status of Women. As a member of the committee, I worked hard on that report with the capable assistance of Judy Zimmer, subsequently a graduate student in religion. We suspected that the women history PhDs of the 1920s were often employed either in women’s colleges or small liberal arts colleges. At the time of the report, I was an associate professor at Barnard College on a one-year leave at Princeton, advising on its newly adopted coeducation. What became immediately clear to us on the committee was that while the most prestigious universities in the United States typically had had extremely few—if any—regular women faculty during most of their histories, other institutions had, in fact, hired them. But with the tremendous expansion of college and university faculty after World War II, men got most of the new appointments, including the presidencies of some women’s colleges.

As a Columbia PhD in 1964, I had great difficulty finding an initial academic appointment. However, I benefitted enormously when my husband, then teaching Russian history at Indiana University, was offered a position at Johns Hopkins. To keep him at Indiana, his dean prevailed upon the dean of the School of Education at Indiana to offer me a job teaching the history of education. Previously, the School of Education had turned me down because I was “too liberal artsy.” When my husband moved to Columbia in 1965, I was extremely fortunate to get the job at Barnard. I had received either no replies or rejections from applications to two dozen or so New York–area colleges and universities.

Willie Lee Rose was a wonderful person whom I admired enormously. We had grand times together on the committee and looked forward to many more before her illness captured her.


Patricia Albjerg Graham
Harvard University (emerita)


Tags: Letters to the Editor Profession


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