The History of Women at UC Berkeley

the history of women at UC berkeley in the background of Hearst Women's Gym

The background of this flyer is The Hearst Women's Gymnasium.

Built in1927, the Hearst Women's Gymnasium was to replace the first women's gymnasium, Hearst Hall, built 1900 and destroyed by fire in 1922. Both places provided women a place of their own distinct from the male dominated space which characterized the campus until the 1970s.

Photo credit: National Register of Historical Places in Alameda County.

About 150 W

This collection of documents presents the history of women on the Berkeley campus from the time women were admitted by the Regents of the University of California in 1870 “on equal terms in all respects with young men” through the 21st century. Such a documentation has never been done before and certainly never with the broad participation of so many different parts of the Berkeley campus. It is itself a historical event!

150W grew from an idea of Professor Oliver O'Reilly (Chair of the Academic Senate) into a project initiated by Chancellor Carol Christ to document and celebrate women on campus in the last 150 years. It was crowdsourced and overseen by the co-chairs of the 150w History Project, Sheila Humphreys and Catherine Gallagher. Covid disrupted the initial momentum, but a dynamic extensive website of the many contributions was created and is the basis for this collection. To preserve such valuable documentation, this collection of materials is housed in the Center for Studies of Higher Education as the campus locus for publications on the history of the University and university history generally. Anne MacLachlan, CSHE, serves as compiler and editor.

This collection presents the first narrative of women on the campus and their contributions to it in a book-length essay by Catherine Gallagher, Women at Berkeley, The First Hundred Years. Focusing on “watershed moments” this essay set the structure of the original project as it was organized on the website and is recommended for providing the context and chronology of the collection. The material here includes 1. An overview of the first hundred years; 2. Undergraduate student life, camps experience, organizations and political movements; 3. Graduate student education and professional training; 4. Women faculty, research and administrative leaders; 5. Women Staff; 6. Alumnae; 7. Women benefactors and philanthropists.

Readers should be aware that there is very little previous work to have drawn on to create this collection. The last attempt of a general history is the Centennial Record of the University of California, edited and compiled by Verne A. Stadtman published in 1968. Berkeley is only one of nine campuses treated and women do not receive much particular attention. More like this collection is the “Ladies Blue and Gold” volume I (2) of the Chronicle of the University of California published in 1998 which was the first attempt to address the glaring deficit in women’s history. Just as the articles in this collection are pathbreaking, so too were these, and for that reason are included in this collection.

This is an open-ended collection and actively solicits new material to fill the many gaps in its coverage. If you have material you would like included, please send it to Anne MacLachlan ( for possible inclusion. 

150W Table of Contents

Access to the collection of analysis and documentation of women from all parts of the University from the "firsts" and pioneers