From Listeners to Leaders: A History of Women at Vanderbilt

Buchanan Fellows Exhibition Reception


August 28, 12:15-1:15

Central Library Second Floor Gallery

This summer, four undergraduates have been working with Dr. Rory Dicker and staff from the Women’s Center and the libraries to explore the history of women at Vanderbilt. The exhibition is part of campus celebrations around the 40th anniversary of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center. Please join us on August 28 at noon to hear the summer 2018 Poppie Pickering and Richard D. Buchanan Library Fellows present on their experiences as historians and curators.


When Kate Lupton attended classes as an unenrolled observer in the 1870s, she understood women were only “listeners” at Vanderbilt. Despite her stellar academic record, she received her degree in secret and rejected the honor of valedictorian due to her “irregular connection with the institution.” Vanderbilt treated women as second-class students, subjecting them to gender-specific policies related to housing, dress, and social life. While some women found a way to exist and even thrive under these regulations, others took action to improve the experience of women at Vanderbilt by raising funds, protesting, and working around the system. Today, women have earned visible status and participate in every part of campus life in a way Lupton could never have imagined. This exhibit shares stories of trailblazers who challenged restrictions, demanded change, and created space for women not only to listen but also to lead.


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