50 Women at Yale 150 - 50th Anniversary of Coeducation | The Oral and Written History Projects

In 1969, women were first accepted to Yale as undergrads.  What was it like for each of these extraordinary women as they entered those hallowed halls steeped in tradition?  What circumstances led to their pursuing an undergraduate education at Yale?  How did that education affect their lives after graduation?

Over the years, a small number of individuals have been interviewed about their experiences of the early years of coeducation at Yale; however, most women in the Classes of ’71, ’72, and ’73 have not had the opportunity to contribute to the history of this remarkable period. As we near the 50th anniversary, “getting the history right” is becoming more urgent than ever. Two companion projects – the Written History Project (WHP) and the Oral History Project (OHP) – are working in tandem to capture the voices of a comprehensive group of these women who were part of this extraordinary transformation. 

The goal of the OHP and WHP is to preserve accounts of this time, traveling around North America, interviewing a broad cross-section of the women with diverse backgrounds, interests, and life experiences.  Interviewees are encouraged to tell their own stories whatever they want future generations to know. 

Filmed interviews have already taken place with shoots in New Haven, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Women in the first three classes will be contacted to schedule interviews as additional dates or cities are added. 

Women alums can also submit their memories directly in the form of written recollections (and, eventually, via recordings on personal cameras or cell-phones once guidelines are created).

If time and resources allow, a further aspect of both of these projects will be to capture the stories of men from that time – those who were at Yale before coeducation and during the transition and to interview male and female members of the faculty, staff, and the administration. 

The collection of interviews will be archived in the Manuscripts and Archives division of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale, where they will be available to library users and researchers.       

 Information about the WHP and the OHP can be found on the 50 Women at Yale 150 website at celebratewomen.yale.edu.

Questions also may be directed to  https://celebratewomen.yale.edu/contact.

- Ursula Burton ’88


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