University of Rochester Library Bulletin: The History Class, 1890-1990; Part 4: The History Class, 1975-1990

Volume XXXXI · 1989-1990
The History Class: 1890-1990 
Part IV: The History Class—1975-1990

Since the "Unbiased Observer's" history of 1950 to 1975 and the sixth part of A Study of Cities (Cities of Lost Civilizations) the resourceful program committee, with the concurrence of the membership, proposed a series of subjects on women. Four years were spent on Women Who Made History. This began with queens of Ancient Egypt—Hatshepsut and Ti and continued through the ancient worlds of Greece, Mesopotamia, Rome, Byzantium, and Medieval France (Heloise and Eleanor of Aquitaine). Medieval and Renaissance women followed in Part II: well-known figures like Jeanne d'Arc, Isabella of Spain, Catherine de Medici of France, and Elizabeth I of England. Lesser known women were Christine of Pisano, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este, and the mystic, Catherine of Siena. The best known women of the Orient in Part III of our study were Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Madame Pandit, and Indira Gandhi. Earlier figures, Lady Murasaki of Japan and Empress Wu of T'ang Dynasty China, gave us insights into exotic Eastern courts. Women in the Age of Revolution (Part IV) included a dazzling array: Maria Theresa of Austria, Catherine the Great of Russia, Madame de Pompadour, Maria Antoinette, and Madame de Staël of France, and the American Abigail Adams.

The year 1981-1982 saw us launched on Ladies Bright and Bountiful: Culture and Patronage, an enticing series any of whom one would have enjoyed writing about. They were Lady Wortley Montagu, Mrs. Thrale, Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, George Sand, Lady Augusta Gregory, and Lady Ottoline Morrell. Women Who Dared, the program for 1982-1983, included challenging characters, among them Emmeline Pankhurst ("Suffragette Battle Axe"), Margaret Sanger ("Lovable Zealot"), and Harriet Tubman ("Black Badge of Courage").

The papers in 1983-1984 on Literary Ladies: the World They Lived In provided interest for writer and listener alike. We were instructed on the plays and novels of the seventeenth-century English dramatist Aphra Behn, on the Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) by Mrs. Frances Trollope, on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and on Elizabeth Gaskell. Edith Wharton and Willa Cather brought us into twentieth-century America, one with novels and short stories describing New York society at the turn of the century, and the other with studies of character in novels set in the Midwest and Southwest.

Women Political Achievers in 1984-1985 returns in a sense to the earlier theme of Women Who Made History: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Frances Perkins, Helen Suzman (South Africa), Margaret Thatcher, and Golda Meir.

Our next program was built around Creative Talent in the World of Art. Visual artists and musicians were studied. In the former were the painters Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe, and the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. In the latter were Dame Ethyl Mary Smyth (1858-1944), English composer of operas and chamber music, a flamboyant character with interests as well in social life and politics; Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944), a celebrated American composer and pianist; and Wanda Landowska, a renowned harpsichordist.

Women of the theater, the 1986-1987 year's program, drew its title from As You Like ItAll The World's a Stage and Women Merely Players. They were Fanny Kemble, Pauline Viardot, Sarah Bernhardt, Ellen Terry, Minnie Madern Fiske, and Isadora Duncan, all vividly described.

A varied group of women pioneers in professions ranging from architecture to anthropology included Julia Morgan, architect, Amelia Earhart, aviatrix, Marguerite Harrison, explorer, Isabella Stewart Gardner, art collector, Ruth Benedict, anthropologist, and Elizabeth Blackwell, physician.

We returned in 1988-1989 to More Literary Ladies and learned about Fanny Burney, Madame de La Fayette, Amy Lowell, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Gertrude Stein.

All of these delightful subjects seemed self-indulgent when we tackled the complex problems of The Middle East: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and the PLO, to be followed in the year 1990-1991 by papers on Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and finally a résumé or updating of happenings in all the countries studied over the two years.

If we ever thought we would come to the end of our inquiries we need only look at the changing face of Europe, Russia and the Far East to realize that subjects stretch endlessly before us. The record so far shows the broad range and serious aim of our studies, and, as the "Unbiased Observer" has said, like the tale in Norse mythology, it can never come to an end nor ever grow uninteresting. Someday we might even return to aspects of American History, which is where we began in 1890!

Notes on Membership

A point might be made about the stability of our membership and the relationship between "town" and "gown." Fourteen of the fifteen members of 1976 continue to be active, that is, in reading papers. Several additions since then have brought our number in 1990 to twenty-three, the last two members being numbers 102 and 103 in the total list of the History Class since its founding in 1890. Of the twenty-three, ten have professional or academic connections. Today all of our members are college graduates. One hundred years ago, as far as we know, few had access to a college education.

Members in 1990: Mrs. William S. Allen, Mrs. Stephen B. Ashley, Mrs. Rowland Collins*, Mrs. Albert B. Craig, Jr.*, Mrs. Russell E. Craytor*, Mrs. William Diez*, Mrs. George H. Ford*, Mrs. Robert France*, Mrs. J. E. Gramlich, Mrs. Thomas F. Griswold, Mrs. Bryan D. Hickman, Mrs. Kenneth C. D. Hickman, Mrs. J. W. Johnson*, Mrs. Equen Meader, Mrs. Adrian Melissinos*, Mrs. Haywood Parker, Jr., Mrs. Gorham Parks, Mrs. Bernard N. Schilling*, Mrs. Albert C. Snell*, Mrs. Glyndon Van Deusen*, Mrs. Rufus Wesson, Mrs. Basil MacLean*, now living in Atlanta, and Mrs. Carl Hersey*, living in Maine.

(*denotes affiliation with the University of Rochester)

Roster of Members of the History Class 
Charter Members: First Meeting October 9, 1890


  1.   Mrs. Thomas Chester
  2.   Miss Louise Comstock (Mrs. Neff), died 1909
  3.   Miss May Cooper
  4.   Miss Frances Griffith
  5.   Miss Mary Harris (Mrs. Webber)
  6.   Miss Florence Hart
  7.   Miss Edith Hopkins
  8.   Mrs. John Hopkins
  9.   Miss Clarice Jeffrey, died 1892
  10. Miss Florence Kendrick (Mrs. Cooper)
  11. Miss Alida Lattimore
  12. Mrs. William Lee
  13. Miss Marguerite Montgomery
  14. Miss Minnie Montgomery
  15. Miss W. Pettis Moore
  16. Miss Florence Osgood (Mrs. Belden May), died 1912
  17. Mrs. Howard Osgood
  18. Miss Grace Otis
  19. Mrs. Samuel Porter
  20. Mrs. Clinton Rogers
  21. Miss Alice Whittlesey (Mrs. S. C. McKown)


  1. Miss Frances Cogswell (Mrs. Boynton)
  2. Miss Clara Curtis
  3. Miss Julia Griffith
  4. Miss Marion Otis
  5. Miss Kate Strong (Mrs. Sewell)


  1. Miss Alice Bacon, died 1903
  2. Miss Gamwell (Mrs. William S. Ely)
  3. Mrs. Robert B. Wickes, elected President 1897, active until 1945-46, died 1954


  1. Miss Louise Hooker (Mrs. Charles W. Dodge)
  2. Mrs. S. P. Moore
  3. Miss Elizabeth Reed
  4. Mrs. White


  1. Miss Louise Little, died 1941


  1. Miss Shepard
  2. Mrs. Louis Washburn


  1. Mrs. Breck Perkins


  1. Mrs. William C. Morey
  2. Miss Julia Robinson


  1. Mrs. Rush Rhees
  2. Mrs. Smith Shelden


  1. Mrs. Estey


  1. Miss Whiton


  1. Mrs. Samuel King Moore
  2. Mrs. John Strong


  1. Mrs. John H. Mason


  1. Miss Annette Munro


  1. Mrs. F. W. Oliver


  1. Mrs. Fitch
  2. Mrs. Charles O. Boswell


  1. Mrs. Rudolph H. Hofheinz


  1. Mrs. Nathaniel W. Faxon, moved away 1935


  1. Miss Jessie Bacon


  1. Miss Jeannette Huntington


  1. Mrs. Weld


  1. Mrs. Loomis
  2. Mrs. Sidney Harrison


  1. Mrs. Joseph Roby
  2. Miss Zachert


  1. Mrs. Montignani


  1. Miss Margaret Withington
  2. Mrs. Essilstyn
  3. Mrs. E. M. Harris


  1. Mrs. Leonard Carmichael


  1. Mrs. Basil C. MacLean


  1. Mrs. Haywood Parker, Jr.
  2. Mrs. Glyndon Van Deusen
  3. Mrs. Roland Will, resigned 1951


  1. Mrs. Raymond Allen, died 1949
  2. Mrs. Carl K. Hersey, moved away 1971


  1. Miss Kathrine Koller (Mrs. William E. Diez)


  1. Miss Susan Eisenhart (Mrs. Bernard N. Schilling)
  2. Mrs. Harold Hodge, resigned 1969
  3. Mrs. John Russell, moved away 1968


  1. Mrs. Raymond Bentley, resigned


  1. Mrs. Ralph Cole


  1. Mrs. John Bush, resigned 1963
  2. Mrs. John Rodgers, resigned 1974
  3. Miss Helen Little


  1. Mrs. Cornelis W. de Kiewiet, moved away 1961


  1. Mrs. William S. Allen
  2. Mrs. Kenneth Hickman


  1. Mrs. Leonard Fenninger
  2. Mrs. Rufus Wesson


  1. Mrs. Allen Wallis, resigned 1970
  2. Mrs. Arthur Hughes, moved away



  1. Mrs. Thomas Griswold
  2. Mrs. J. W. Johnson
  3. Mrs. James McKelvey, resigned 1970


  1. Mrs. Albert Snell


  1. Mrs. Robert France
  2. Mrs. J. E. Gramlich
  3. Mrs. Rowland Collins
  4. Mrs. Gorham Parks


  1. Mrs. Equen Meader


  1. Mrs. Charles Mackay, resigned 1977


  1. Mrs. George Ford
  2. Mrs. Adrian Melissinos
  3. Mrs. Harold Willard, moved away 1980


  1. Mrs. Albert Craig


  1. Mrs. Russell Craytor


  1. Mrs. Bryan Hickman
  2. Mrs. Stephen Ashley


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