Esther Chambers Becomes First Known Female Editor of the Dickinsonian

February 19, 1931

This article in the Dickinsonian names Esther Chambers '32 as the new editor of the student newspaper.  Although the article describes her as the "first woman to hold the editorship for many years," earlier female editors have yet to be identified.  The other woman on the newspaper staff at the time was Marie Formad '34.  According to this article, Chambers was to hold a meeting on February 19, 1931 at which she would announce who she had chosen to serve as sports editor, associate editor, and desk editor.  A banquet for the members of the staff was also planned for March 6 at the

Gays and Lesbians at Dickinson (GLAD) Hold their First Meeting

March 31, 1988

This article, published in the March 31, 1988 Dickinsonian, documents the first meeting of Gays and Lesbians at Dickinson College (GLAD). Headed by Karen Ruocco, the organization held its first meeting at the Women's Center on March 30th. The group provided "support for gays and lesbians" at Dickinson College. The organization also worked to educate the campus on issues effecting the gay/lesbian community.

"The Presence of the Black American at Dickinson College from 1773 to the Present," a Research Paper by Elaine Vivian Watson

May 10, 1984

In her 1984 research paper "The Presence of the Black American at Dickinson College from 1773 to the Present," Elaine Vivian Watson researched the influence of "Black America" upon Dickinson College. Her paper includes information on "unfamous firsts" at Dickinson as well as information on the Black Alumni Questionaire.
Some "Unfamous Firsts" Include:
1901: John Robert Paul Brock is the first black male student to graduate from Dickinson College.

Female Students Infiltrate the All-Male Fraternity Quad

April 9, 1976

According to the April 9th, 1976 Dickinsonian, 21 female students would be moving into the fraternity quad in the fall of 1976. The women are independent, having no greek connection. The women hoped to change the college's current "social scene."

"The First Woman Trainer Makes Dickinson College History"

October 12, 1973

This article from the Dickinsonian announces the hiring of the first female athletic trainer at Dickinson, Shelley Wright. According to the author of the article, Dickinson had been looking for a female athletic trainer for quite some time and was pleased that there was such a smooth transition.

A Series of Early Women's Physical Education Photographs, circa 1888

circa 1888

This series of five photographs depicts early female Dickinsonians in a physical education class. The women use various forms of equipment in the photos. The photo pictured on this page lists the names of the women and it appears that the same women are in each image.

Zatae Longsdorff Recieves an Honorary Degree from Dickinson College, 1937

June 7, 1937

Fifty years following her graduation from Dickinson College as the first female student, Zatae Longsdorff Straw received an honorary degree from her alma mater. The award was bestowed upon Zatae due to her position as "the first woman graduate of Dickinson College, a pioneer among women in the field of medicine, combining with a professional career the duties of motherhood and the demands of public service..."

Zatae Longsdorff Proclaims: "All I wanted was a square deal"


In her speech delivered during a 1937 Commencementt Week Dinner, Zatae Longsdorff Straw remembers her time at Dickinson College. In the beginning of the speech, Straw admits that this was her first time back to Dickinson since she graduated in 1887. Thus, her mind flooded with memories of Dickinson during her 1937 visit. As the first female graduate, Straw described the harassment she received from her male counterparts. She described many of the faculty including Dr. Rittenhouse whose "eyes filled with tears" when male students treated her unkindly. Dr.

Zatae Longsdorff Earns her Degree from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania

March 8, 1892

In a letter to Zatae Longsdorff, Dean Clara Marshall M.D. informs Zatae that she sucessfully passed her examinations and was recommended for a Degree of Doctor of Medicine. Longsdorff, the first female graduate of Dickinson College, graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania and practiced medicine throughout her life.

Dickinson Alumna Becomes First Woman to Receive Navy Commission

December, 1949

The December 1949 Dickinson Alumnus documents a fellow alumna, Frances L. Willoughby '27, who was awarded a commission. However, Willoughby was not awarded just any kind of commission, but she received the honor of being the first woman doctor to receive a Navy Commission. She entered the Naval Reserve as a lieutenant in 1944, and appointed to permanent staff only 4 months after and in 1946 she achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After graduating from Dickinson, Willoughby went on to receive a medical degree from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine.