Letter from Katherine Cowen to Julie Isenberg


Letter from Katherine Cowen to Julie Isenberg




A response letter from Katherine Cowen, General Secretary of the Smith Alumnae Assocation, to Julie Isenberg about Julie’s intrest in school reform and her desire to get the Alumnae Association involved. Isenberg wanted the Smith Alumnae Associaation to be involved with local education reform through the American Alumni Association. Katherine states that she believes that the club should stick to their original purpose and gives a rundown on the association charter (which is in short to foster a sense of community among graduates). Katherine also tries to frame the college’s decision in such a way that it makes them look like they are progressive and still in support of the idea of school reforms by quoting Sophia Smith’s outlook on education and what she wanted women to learn at Smith college and that Smith was to provide " ...education equal to those which are afforded now in our colleges for young men." It is interesting to see how Smith handled and justified not getting directly involved with education reform movements. Cowen frames her argument against Isenberg's proposal in such a way that Smith is still cast in a progressive light. Cowen also mentions classes Smith should offer that were progressive as outlined in Sophia Smith's will, such as mathmatics and physical education. While Cowen does not actively discorage members from participating is is clear that Smith College did not want their name directly tied to any movement for education reform. While Cowen made her case that Smith advocates for educational equality, it is clear that the type of education a person recieved was still highly gendered at this point in time. However Smith College did approve another graduate to attend the American Alumni Association's Seminar on Public Responsibility and paid for some of the tution.


University of Memphis Libraries


June 19, 1961


Digital Image © 2016, University of Memphis Libraries Preservation and Special Collections Department. All rights reserved.




“Letter from Katherine Cowen to Julie Isenberg,” Making an Impact: The Lives of Tennessee Women, accessed November 29, 2021, https://umhist4851.omeka.net/items/show/119.

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