A History of Women at Lehigh: 1865-1918

1865
Lehigh is founded by Asa Packer.
1878

Lucy Packer Linderman

Lucy Packer Linderman Memorial library is dedicated.
The Lucy Packer Linderman Memorial library is dedicated, becoming the first building named solely for a woman. It was built by Asa Packer as a memorial to his oldest daughter, who died in 1873.
1881
Admission of women is proposed in a faculty meeting.
In the minutes of a faculty meeting, Secretary Merriman recorded that President Lamberton presented a letter from Miss Elsie E. Warner asking if any arrangements had been made for the admission of females to courses of study. The idea was discussed informally by the faculty for some time.
1885
Unidentified young woman takes Lehigh entrance exams.
An unidentified young woman registers at Lehigh and passes the entrance exams. Though the Registrar at the time stated that the university is for the education of men, there is apparently no written rule prohibiting women from matriculating. William Lamberton, professor of Classics, persuades the student that she would be happier at a college with other women.
1887

Mary Packer Cummings

Mary Packer Cummings donates money to build Packer Church.
Mary Packer Cummings, Asa’s last surviving child, donates a large sum of money to build Packer Memorial Church as a memorial to her family, to aid students, and to help with university operating expenses. President Drinker notes that this makes her the second largest benefactor to the university, after her father.
1902
25 women enroll in a summer extension course.
The first summer extension course specifically for teachers, Methods of Teaching History and Civics, is offered. 15 of the 24 students enrolled in the 1909 summer courses are women.
1910
Coxe Mining Laboratory is dedicated.
Sophie G. Coxe, widow of Eckley Coxe, continues the tradition of Mary Packer Cummings by making major contributions to Lehigh to honor family members.
1917
Helen G. Ryan joins President's office as a secretary.
Women are employed as secretaries at this point. One of the first, Helen G. Ryan, joins the President’s office and works as secretary to six Lehigh presidents until her retirement in 1965.
1918
Women are first admitted as graduate students.
1918

Percy Hughes

Percy Hughes lobbies for undergraduate coeducation.
Percy Hughes begins lobbying for undergraduate coeducation, after helping to pass a measure allowing women to take graduate courses at Lehigh.