An Unflinching Account of Yale’s First Female Undergrads at New Haven Museum
New Haven, Conn. (January 28, 2021) – In 1969, women were allowed entry to undergraduate study at Yale University for the first time.Their experience on arriving to campus was not the same as their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the school’s privileges, these young women nonetheless met the challenge of being first and changed Yale in ways it had never anticipated. Historian and Yale alumna Anne Gardiner Perkins will give a Zoom presentation based on her book, “Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant,” with the New Haven Museum on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at 6 p.m. Register here. The book is available for purchase by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 203-562-4183, ext. 119.
Following an overview and a brief video, Perkins, who was the first female editor in chief of the Yale Daily News, will be joined in conversation by New Haven leader Constance Royster, one of Yale’s first women undergrads, whose personal experiences are featured prominently in Perkins’s book. She will also be joined by current Yale Daily News Editor-in-Chief Mackenzie Hawkins and Zoë Hopson, president of the Yale Black Women's Coalition. An extended Q&A will follow.
In “Yale Needs Women,” which won the 2020 Connecticut Book Award for Non-fiction and was named by BookBrowse magazine as a best book for book clubs in 2021, Perkins tells how the first young women at Yale fought against the backward-leaning traditions of a centuries-old institution and created the opportunities that would carry them into the future. Outnumbered seven-to-one because of the gender quota Yale put in place, these young pioneers, most of them just teenagers, were barred from many of the privileges their male classmates took for granted.
“Yale Needs Women” follows the story of five female students in particular—two black and three white—through the tumultuous early years of coeducation at Yale. Based on five years of archival research and 80 oral histories, Perkins’s unflinching account of a group of young women striving for change is an inspiring story of strength, resilience, and courage that continues to resonate today.
About Anne Gardiner Perkins
Perkins is an award-winning historian and higher-education expert. She grew up in Baltimore and received her B.A. from Yale University, where she won the Porter Prize in history and was elected the first woman editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News. After Yale, she won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to spend her career in education, from urban high-school teacher to elected school-committee member. She holds a doctorate in higher education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.
About Constance Royster
Royster is the principal of Laurel Associates, LLC. She is a recognized fundraising, education, non-profit, and organizational leader. She has served as the director of major giving for WSHU, as associate director of development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and as director of development at the Yale Divinity School. She received her juris doctor from Rutgers University Law School, Newark, and a B.A., cum laude, from Yale University. She has held leadership positions at numerous national, local, and international organizations, including The Fund for Women and Girls of the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Dwight Hall at Yale - Center for Public Service and Social Justice, Federal Bar Council, and the Yale Alumni Fund, among others.
About Mackenzie Hawkins
Hawkins studies ethics, politics and economics at Yale University, where she serves as editor in chief of the student newspaper, the Yale Daily News. An aspiring journalist, she has covered local government in New Haven and the San Francisco Bay Area and reported on California politics and policy for The Sacramento Bee and Politico.
About Zoë Hopson
Hopson is a junior at Yale University studying political science while fulfilling her pre-med requirements. With an interest in healthcare policy and maternal health disparities, she spends her time advocating for diversity in medicine/public health, politics, and education. Zoe serves as the current president of the Yale Black Women's Coalition and as one of the directors of Black Students from Disarmament at Yale. Hopson plans to go to medical school after graduation.
About the New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. As a designated Blue Star Museum, the New Haven Museum offers the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, free admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information visitwww.newhavenmuseum.orgor Facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183