Search within this document:
Want to learn more?
- Do you have a question about this collection?
- Would you like to view the original items in this collection?
- Are you seeking permission to publish or reproduce items in this collection?
A Guide to her Papers at the Indiana University Archives
Processed by Dina M. Kellams
Electronic finding aid encoded by Magia Ghetu
Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Morrison, Sarah Parke, 1833-1916.
.2 cubic feet
Materials are in English
Sarah Parke Morrison became the first woman admitted to Indiana University in 1867. Collection consists of personal papers of Sarah Parke Morrison in three series: Correspondence, 1897-1913, consisting primarily of outgoing correspondence. Frequent correspondents include former Indiana University President William Lowe Bryan and Registrar John W. Cravens. The correspondence all dates from the years after she left IU and much of it discusses her desire that women become members of the various University boards. Schedules, 1855-1856, consists of a single schedule of a typical day for Morrison at the Western Female College; and Writings, 1911-1912, includes a handwritten account of Morrison's entrance and experience as the first female student at IU and a small pamphlet of Morrison's poetry published in 1912.
This collection is open for research.
Advance notice is required.
In 1867, Sarah Parke Morrison became the first woman admitted to Indiana University.
Morrison's parents, John and Catherine, were themselves well-educated. John graduated from Miami University in Ohio in 1828, at which time he returned to his hometown Salem, Indiana and opened the Washington County Seminary. At the Seminary John was in charge of Catherine Morris' education for six years. In 1830, Catherine's parents sent her to the Quaker-run Westtown Boarding School near Philadelphia, where she studied for two years. Upon her return to Salem, John asked her to marry him, which Catherine, with her parents consent, agreed to. They were married September 11, 1832 and their first child, Sarah, was born in 1834.
In addition to the Washington County Seminary, John and Catherine worked together to open the Salem Female Seminary in 1835. Instead of hiring the customary male teaching assistants, they employed young female teachers from the East, a rarity in this time.
After a considerable amount of home schooling, Catherine decided it was time for her daughter Sarah to receive more formal training. Sarah attended Mount Holyoke Seminary, graduating from that institution in 1857. She went on to Vassar College, where she was a pupil-teacher and later to Williams College to do post-graduate work.
After studying at Williams, Sarah returned home to Salem. While preparing to attend the 1867 Indiana University commencement, Sarah's father, formerly president of the IU Board of Trustees and now Treasurer of the State, remarked to Sarah that it was time for the University to open its doors to women. Sarah agreed, and with the inducement of a five dollar bill, she also agreed to prepare an appeal to the Board of Trustees.
The Trustees failed to find any clause in the University's charter that barred women from entering the University so they declared women could enter under the same terms as men. Sarah, at 34 years of age and years of education behind her, had no desire to attend Indiana University and hoped some other woman would step forward. To her disappointment, no young woman came forward. Rather than allow her victory to fall hollow, she decided to enter as a freshman in the fall of 1867.
Sarah completed the four year program in two years, graduating in 1869. Four years after her graduation, Sarah was appointed tutor and in 1874 she became IU's first female faculty member when she was named adjunct professor of English literature. Despite Sarah's success as a student, the male students did not readily accept her as their superior. She only stayed at IU for one more year, at which time she left for other pursuits.
Sarah remained an active alumna of the University, however, frequently writing the Board of Trustees inquiring why women have not been placed as members of the various University boards. To voice her protest, she began returning her alumni ballots for the Board of Trustees marked "for some woman."
Sarah Parke Morrison died in 1919 and is buried in Indianapolis.
Organized in three series: Correspondence, Schedules, and Writings.
The Sarah Parke Morrison papers comprise .2 cubic feet and are organized in three series: Correspondence, Schedules, and Writings. Most files also include transcriptions of the contents.
The Correspondence series, 1897-1913, is arranged alphabetically and consists primarily of Morrison's outgoing correspondence. Frequent correspondents include former Indiana University president William Lowe Bryan and IU Secretary and Registrar John Cravens. Always fighting for equal rights, much of Morrison's correspondence discusses her wish for women in the University community to rise in status and become members of the Board of Trustees and Alumni Board (Morrison did not want to become a board member herself - in a letter addressed to "Alma Mater" Morrison mentions she would much rather her dear Alma Mater use her influence to send her to Congress!).
The second series, Schedules, 1855-1856, contains a single schedule of a typical day for Morrison at the Western Female College.
Writings, 1911-1912, includes a handwritten account of Morrison's entrance and experience as the first female student at Indiana University. She discusses her reluctance to be the first woman to enter the University and her hopes that another woman would step forward. After realizing that would not occur, Morrison entered IU and a description of her reception and coursework is also included. This account was later prepared by Frances Higgins for publication in the Indianapolis Star and appeared in the October 1919 Alumni Quarterly with the title "Some sidelights of fifty years ago." Also includes is a small pamphlet of Morrison's poetry published in 1912.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in IUCAT, the IU Libraries' online catalog. Materials about related topics, persons or places can be found by searching the catalog using these terms.
Completed in June 2000. Updated and revised in 2011 by Dina M. Kellams.
Enclosure: letter to SPM from Joseph S. Jenckes, June 11, 1910
(2nd page missing)
Contents: SPM's ballots "for some woman"