150 Years of Women at Berkeley

Resources for the History of Women at Berkeley

The Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) has long been involved with documenting and researching the history and current situation of women at Berkeley. Two of its members are actively involved in the History Advisory Committee of the 150 Years of Women at Cal Project: Zachary Bleemer, who currently administers and develops the UC Cliometric Project, and Anne MacLachlan, who has focused on gender and ethnic equity particularly in doctoral education and researched and written on various aspects of women at Cal. In 1989 Carroll Brentano organized the University History Seminar which developed the nine volumes of the journal, The History of the University of California. Beyond publications, with Janet Ruyle, the late Associate Director who joined CSHE in 1960 retiring in 1993, and Marian Gade, Clark Kerr’s research partner who also served as Associate Director, Carroll and Janet fostered the scholarly work of many young and not so young women academics by making the Center a scholarly home for them and supporting and encouraging their work. CSHE also has become home to several women who worked at the Office of the President over many years. Pat Pelfrey, Assistant to five UC Presidents, wrote A Brief History of the University of California (2004) while at the Center. Among History Department faculty associated with CSHE, Sheldon Rothblatt (Director, 1989-96) stands out as having a particular interest in the history of women in higher education and at Cal and co-edited with Carroll Brentano the Institute of Government Studies (IGS) history series and some of the Chronicles. 

University of California ClioMetric Project

Zachary Bleemer founded the UC ClioMetric History Project with John Douglass in 2016 with seed funding by the Center for Studies in Higher Education and the UC Office of the President. Since that year, UC-CHP has digitized thousands of volumes of historical university records and catalogs and extracted millions of administrative records covering all 1890-1950 UC students as well as 1900-2012 Berkeley, UCLA, and Davis faculty. These records – most of which are publicly-available on the UC-CHP website – have been used to generate new statistics documenting the history of the University of California, including annual trends of the female share of Berkeley students and faculty by academic department across the 20th century, and have been the basis of numerous public presentations and studies. See Bleemer’s ROPS paper (2018) explaining the project  Also helpful for seeing the data in action is his blog on the California Digital Library site (2016): UC Berkeley Researcher Mines HathiTrust Volumes for Cliometric History of Postsecondary Education in California  https://cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2016/09/16/uc-berkeley-researcher-mines-hathitrust-volumes-for-cliometric-history-of-postsecondary-education-in-california/

University of California History Project Digital Archive

The previous project is related to an earlier CSHE project created by John Douglass and Sally Thomas in 1999 intended to build a platform for digitizing significant records of the University. Their project was taken over by the Bancroft Library in 2005 and the material digitized at CSHE is now found on the Library site: https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/index.html  It includes significant sources on the history of Berkeley such as Verne Stadtman, Centennial Record of the University of California (1974) https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/index.html and the In Memoriam collection of Online Biographies of UC Faculty & Administrators from 1928 to 2001 https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/archives_exhibits/in_memoriam/index2.html Since 2002 the In Memoriam records are hosted by the Academic Senate: https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/in-memoriam/index.php

Graduate Women at Berkeley and Women in Science

Anne MacLachlan has worked for many years researching the experience of women and underrepresented minorities in doctoral education at Berkeley and their career paths with a focus on those in STEM fields. Her project for 150W is to write the history of women in doctoral education from the first Ph.D. granted to a woman at Berkeley in 1898 and place Berkeley development in the context of graduate education at Berkeley and in the US. She completed one of the first comprehensive placement studies of a Research University in the United States working with the Graduate Division and UCOP (1992) and documented the experience of women and minorities in two studies:

1. Graduate Education: The Experience of Women and Minorities 1980-1990 (1999)

2. A Longitudinal Study of Minority Ph.D.s from 1980-1990: Progress and Outcomes in Science and Engineering at the University of California during Graduate School and Professional Life sponsored by the Spencer Foundation (2006)

This resulted in several papers specifically on women generally in STEM, women of color in STEM and the experience of graduate students of color in STEM available on her home page and listed at the end of this report.

History of Women at Berkeley and the University of California

In 1989 architectural historian, Carroll Winslow Brentano of CSHE, and English university historian and future Director of CSHE, Sheldon Rothblatt, met over lunch and launched a seminar for UC history. As described in Carroll’s essay: California: A New University History Project (History of Universities 1993, Vol. 12, p375-381) it was a highly diverse group from every corner of campus: archivists, a staff architect, a publisher, faculty and staff. Out of this grew a diverse set of publications beginning with Henry May’s Three Faces of Berkeley: Competing Ideologies in the Wheeler Era. 1899-1919, (1993), edited by Carroll Brentano and Sheldon Rothblatt, published by the Center for Studies in Higher Education and the Institute for Government Studies. From this arose a series of joint publications, Chapters in the History of the University of California, the most significant for women being that of Geraldine Jonich Clifford, “Equally in View.” The University of California, Its Women and the Schools (1995).

Drawing on many of the members of the original University History Project under the editorship of Carroll Brentano, The University of California Chronicle, founded in 1898 by Professor Bernard Moses and published until 1933, was revived in 1998 as the Chronicle of the University of California. As the editorial board wrote in volume 1, the purpose was to continue the original Chronicle which “provided its readers with intelligent and entertaining accounts of contemporary events in the University’s social, academic and administrative life.” It also was intended to address what was perceived as ebbing institutional memory. “While institutional identity will and must evolve, it should maintain a self-consciousness of its direction by acknowledging its past. Without memory there is no identity; without identity the University is left as a mere collection of disparate buildings and people.”

The new Chronicle was launched in 1998 with volume 1, Alarums and Diversions: Disasters at Cal. In total nine volumes were produced covering a great variety of topics and voices. Women significant to the history of Berkeley appear in many volumes. However, Volume 1, Issue 2, The Ladies Blue and Gold is dedicated entirely to the history of highly diverse women. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/ladies-blue-and-gold  The entire collection is available at: https://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/chronicle-university-california-archive  Production of all of these volumes was principally the work of Carroll Brentano and Janet Ruyle, who joined the Center in 1960 and served as associate director of CSHE from 1976 to1993. They were supported by a very active, erudite and engaged board.