Cornelia Clapp is one of six Mount Holyoke alumnae whose lives and accomplishments are profiled in a new exhibit in the sixth-floor connector between Williston Library and the Miles-Smith Science Library.
Several Mount Holyoke alumnae are in the Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls; now some of them are in a campus "hallway of fame" too. Beginning this month, profiles of six graduates will inaugurate a permanent exhibit in the sixth-floor hallway connecting Williston Library to the Miles-Smith Science Library. Information about each alumna's life and accomplishments is complemented by a collage of photos.
Some of the women chosen for the first profiles, such as poet Emily Dickinson and suffragist and abolitionist Lucy Stone, are household words. Others' claims to fame are less well known: Ella Grasso '40 was the first woman in America to be elected governor in her own right. Class of 1871 alum Cornelia Clapp's dictum was "Study nature, not books," and Clapp Laboratory is named for her. Virginia Apgar '29 developed a system still used to evaluate the health of newborns. And Frances Perkins '02 was the first woman to serve as a cabinet member for a U.S. president.
Even if you know the names of these women, you probably haven't heard all the facts contained in the exhibit. For example, did you know that Emily Dickinson--often portrayed as a tiny, fragile spinster--had bright red hair and lived a life of extraordinary defiance? Or that physician Virginia Apgar delivered some 17,000 babies and built her own stringed instruments? Or that Frances Perkins saw her role while the U.S. secretary of labor as working "for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain, common working men"? There's lots of MHC history on display.
The first six alumnae profiles will eventually be joined by profiles of living alumnae. Sujeong Shin, director of editorial services, wrote the profiles of each woman based on material provided by Archives Librarian Patricia Albright. LITS Director Susan Perry says the exhibit was the brainchild of Peter Carini, director of archives and special collections. "Peter and I are hoping it will serve as an inspiration to the current MHC women who pass through the hallway, and let prospective students visiting the College know that MHC has educated leaders in their fields," says Perry.