University of Michigan Alumnae Council Survey Responses, 1924

Four women, class of 1890

Four women, class of 1890 (detail), 1887,
Louise Lunsford Loving photograph collection,
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

In 1924, the Alumnae Council of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan mailed a survey to the more than 3,000 women currently in attendance and to over 7,000 who had attended the University going back to the year 1870, when women were first admitted.

Of the 10,258 surveys mailed to alumnae and students, 3,047 were returned; the personal information on these responses included: past and present occupations, public offices and leadership positions held, outstanding achievements, degrees conferred by and attendance at other colleges, war record, and family members who had attended the University. In open-ended questions the respondent was asked to list ten outstanding alumnae, to describe the influence the University had upon her life, and to provide memories of her college days.

From these responses, a diverse and varied portrait of the alumnae body emerges. The women collectively were holders of degrees from almost all of the University schools and colleges that existed at the time of their attendance; they received bachelor, master, doctor of philosophy, doctor of medicine, and law degrees. The 3,047 respondents furthermore listed eighty occupations, which included teachers and school administrators as well as professors, doctors, scientists, and artists. While many lauded the education and sense of community they found at the University of Michigan, others chafed at the conventional attitudes of professors and classmates. In their deeply personal reflections and memories, the alumnae survey responses are a vital record of the lived experiences of women at one of the premier institutions of the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.