Delaware Public Media

History Matters: University of Delaware's Women's College and its role in women's suffrage

May 6, 2016

Our two part History Matters on the history of the fight for women’s rights in the First State concludes this week with a conversation with leading women’s rights historian Anne Boylan, author of “The Origins of Women’s Activism,” about the role of Delaware women in the women’s suffrage movement.

Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly interviewed her in historic Warner Hall on the UD campus. The hall is named after Emalea Pusey Warner, who was part of the original Women’s College and is still used as an all-female student dormitory today.


Below are descriptions of three women vitally important to the creation of University of Delaware's Women's College as they appear in Carol Hoffecker's book, "A History of Women at the University of Delaware."

Amy Elizabeth Du Pont (1876-1962)

She served on the University of Delaware Board of Trustee’s Advisory Committee on the Women’s College from 1939 through 1944 and was among the University’s most generous benefactors. During the 1930s, she paid the salary of a faculty member of the Women’s College and purchased a house adjacent to the campus to serve as the residence of the dean of the Women’s College. In 1939, she established the Unidel Foundation to enhance the work of the University of Delaware. Income from that foundation has become the University’s most significant, ongoing benefaction.

Winifred Josephine Robinson (1867-1962)

She was the dean of the Women’s College from its founding in 1914 until 1938. The force of her character breathed life into the new and untried institution. Dean Robinson shaped every aspect of the college: from its admissions policies and curricula to the selection of its faculty to the structure of its residential life. In the course of her long career, she earned the respect and admiration of Delawareans and made higher education for women a reality in the First State.

Emalea Pusey Warner (1853-1948)

She was president of the state’s Federation of Women’s Clubs, and championed the creation of the Women’s College and thereafter made its success the central goal of a life dedicated to work on behalf of Delawareans. In 1938, she was the first woman selected to serve on the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware. If higher education for women in Delaware had a founding mother, it was she.