Purdue University Libraries honors women deans through 'Quest for Equality Exhibit', 'The Deans' Bible' book launch

March 18, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University Libraries' Division of Archives and Special Collections will celebrate Women's History Month with an archival display, online exhibit and book launch recognizing Purdue women who helped pave the way for future women leaders.

The "Quest for Equality" exhibit is on display from March 19 to July 31 in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center.  As part of the celebration, alumna and former educator Marylu McEwen, who has made several contributions to Archives and Special Collections and many other areas throughout the university, will be honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Women's Archives Award. McEwen will be honored during an invitation-only ceremony on Wednesday (March 19) in the Karnes Research Center, which is on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Science and Education Library in Stewart Center. The event also will include the launch of "The Deans' Bible," a book by Lafayette author Angie Klink highlighting the contributions of Purdue women deans.

The Web exhibit will be available on an ongoing basis at http://collections.lib.purdue.edu/womens-archives/quest-for-equality/.

"We are so grateful for Dr. McEwen's unwavering commitment to the Women's Archives and her support in fostering this important collection honoring the history and legacy of Purdue women," said Sammie Morris, associate professor and university archivist, Purdue Libraries.

The exhibit will showcase the legacies of five Purdue women and the impact they had on women students and on each other from the 1930s until the 1990s. It will chronicle the lives and work of Dorothy Stratton, who became Purdue's first full-time dean of women in 1933; her successor, Helen Schleman, 1947-1968; Beverley Stone, Purdue's first dean of students after the consolidation of the Office of the Dean of Men and the Office of the Dean of Women in 1974; Barbara Cook, dean of students from 1980-1987; and Betty Nelson, dean of students from 1987-1996.  The exhibit will feature the Deans' Bible, which was passed down by Purdue's first part-time dean of women, Carolyn Shoemaker, to each succeeding dean. It will also include photographs of Stratton and Schleman during their time as founding leaders in the Women's Coast Guard Reserve; documentation of campus unrest during the 1960s; correspondence revealing how the deans carried out their work and fostered an environment of inclusion on the Purdue campus; and many other mementos and artifacts that capture their trials and triumphs throughout their quest for equality.

About 'The Deans' Bible' (book)

While it is focused on changing attitudes on one college campus, "The Deans' Bible," written by Purdue alumna Angie Klink, sheds light on cultural change in America as a whole, exploring how each of the women deans participated nationally in the quest for equality. The story rolls through the "picture-perfect," suppressive 1950s; explores the awakening 1960s of women's liberation; describes the challenging 1980s, with AIDS and alcohol epidemics; and sails into the 21st century as a United States Coast Guard cutter is named after Dorothy Stratton and commissioned by first lady Michelle Obama.

As each woman succeeded the other, forming a five-dean friendship, they knitted their bond with a secret symbol - a Bible. Originally possessed by Purdue's first part-time Dean of Women Carolyn Shoemaker, the Bible was handed down from dean to dean with favorite passages marked. The lowercase word "bible" is often used in connection with reference works or "guidebooks." "The Deans' Bible" is just that, brimming with stories of courageous women who led by example and lived their convictions. "The Deans' Bible" was produced by and is now on sale through Purdue University Press

Contact: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu  

Sources: Sammie Morris, 765-494-2905, morris18@purdue.edu

Charles Watkinson, director, Purdue University Press, 765-494-8251, cwatkinson@purdue.edu

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