Our Rightful PlaceA History of Women at the University of Kentucky, 1880--1945

Our Rightful PlaceA History of Women at the University of Kentucky, 1880--1945

Terry L. Birdwhistell and Deirdre A. Scaggs

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780813179377

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


Since women first entered the University of Kentucky (UK) in 1880 they have sought, demanded, and struggled for equality within the university. The period between 1880 and 1945 at UK witnessed women’s suffrage, two world wars, and an economic depression. It was during this time that women at UK worked to take their rightful place in the university’s life prior to the modern women’s movement of the 1960s and beyond. The history of women at UK is not about women triumphant, and it remains an untidy story. After pushing for admission into a male-centric campus environment, women created women’s spaces, women’s organizations, and a women’s culture often patterned on those of men. At times, it seemed that a goal was to create a woman’s college within the larger university. However, coeducation meant that women, by necessity, competed with men academically while still navigating the evolving social norms of relationships between the sexes. Both of those paths created opportunities, challenges, and problems for women students and faculty. By taking a more women-centric view of the campus, this study shows more clearly the impact that women had over time on the culture and environment. It also allows a comparison, and perhaps a contrast, of the experiences of UK women with other public universities across the United States.