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Harvard. Nine Radcliffe graduate students petition to attend “Economics Seminary”, 1926



Harvard’s Economic Seminary was a men-only affair going into the mid-1920’s. Before the beginning of the second semester of the 1925-26 academic year, a group of nine Radcliffe graduate students respectfully petitioned Allyn Young, the chairman of the Harvard Economics Department, to allow them “the privilege of regular attendance at the seminary”. Four of those women went on to earn Ph.D.’s in economics or economic history, three of them had substantial academic careers (Harvard, Berkeley and Pomona). At least one of the others had a full career as a government economist. 

Besides transcribing this priceless artifact for the chronicle of women in economics, I have conducted a preliminary sweep of internet sources, including genealogical resources available at to construct partial timelines for this gang of nine. I have even come up with pictures of five of them!




The Petition

January 21, 1926


Professor Allyn A. Young
Chairman of the Economics Department
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass

The undersigned Radcliffe graduate students who are doing work in Economics at Harvard, would like permission to attend the weekly seminary in Economics. On two occasions they have been invited to be present at special meetings. They found the lectures stimulating and informative and are inclined to feel that the customary exclusion of Radcliffe students from these meetings puts them at some disadvantage. They must forego the opportunity of hearing both the informal lectures of experts in the various fields of Economics, and the results of the research of their fellow students. They also miss an invaluable chance for discussion less formal than that of the classroom.

Therefore, they petition the Economics Department for the privilege of regular attendance at the seminary.


Elizabeth L. Waterman
Mary C. Coit
Emily H. Huntington
Margaret R. Gay
Eunice S. Coyle
Miriam Keeler
M. Gertrude Brown
R. Guppy
A. Gilchrist


Source: Harvard University Archives. Department of Economics, Correspondence and Papers (1902-1950). Box 25; Folder: “Economics Seminary 1925-33”.



Elizabeth Lane Waterman

1903. Born September 24 in Boston to Arthur J. Waterman from England and Amy H. Lane of Boston.

1924. A.B. (honors in economics and sociology, Phi Beta Kappa) from Barnard College.

1925. A.M. from Radcliffe College.

1926-28. Received an Augustus Anson Whitney and Benjamin White Whitney Fellowship to study at the London School of Economics.

1928-29. Instructor at Wellesey College.

1929. Ph.D., Radcliffe College. Thesis title: Standard of Living of Eighteenth Century English Labor, 1700-1790.

1930. Married Glennon Gilboy (Professor of Engineering at MIT 1925-1937) April 19.

1929-30. Secretary of the Harvard Committee on Research in the Social Sciences.

1934. Wages in Eighteenth Century England. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

1930-41. Executive Secretary of the Harvard Committee on Research in the Social Sciences.

1940. Applicants for Work Relief: A Study of Massachusetts Families under the FERA and WPA. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

1953. Divorced in November.

1958. Died August 18 in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Sources: A Biographical Dictionary of Women Economists, ed. by Robert W. Dimand, Mary Ann Dimand and Evelyn L. Forget, supplemented with genealogical data found at

Image Source: Barnard College, Mortarboard 1925, p. 62.


Mary Chandler Coit

1895. Born May 7 in Winchester, Massachusetts to Robert Coit and Eliza Atwood.

1917. Received A.B. with Distinction in Economics from Radcliffe College.

1920. Living with parents in Winchester, Massachusetts working as a secretary at a college.

1925. Received A.M. from Radcliffe College.

1930. Married Oscar Hatch Hawley March 11 in Ames, Iowa. In the 1930 census his occupation is listed as college music instructor (in the 1930 Iowa State College yearbook he is the conductor of the Iowa State Band) and hers as college instructor.

1939. Oscar Hatch Hawley died June 29 in Bolton Massachusetts.

1940. Census lists her as a widow farmer living in Worcester, Massachusetts with two sons, 8 and 6 years of age.

1984. Died 17 July in Lawrence, Massachusetts.


Sources: From genealogical data found at The Iowa State College yearbook, Bomb, 1930.

Image Source: Detail from group picture of the Radcliffe News in the 1916 yearbook



Emily Harriet Huntington

1895. Born October 22 in Sacramento, California to Dr. Thomas W. Huntington and Harriet Olive Pearson.

1917. A.B. awarded from University of California.

Worked on a cost of living study at the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Attended graduate department of Bryn Mawr College.

Attended London School of Economics.

1924. A.M. awarded by Radcliffe College.

1926-7. Instructor in Economics at Simmons College in Boston.

1928. Ph.D. from Radcliffe College. Thesis Cyclical Fluctuations in the Cotton Manufacturing Industry.

1928. Returns to the University of California at the rank of instructor at the faculty of economics.

1930. Appointment to assistant professor

1937. Promotion to associate professor

1944. Promotion to professor.

1961. Retirement.

1982. Died April 20 in Berkeley, California.


Source: University of California, Bancroft Library/Berkeley. Regional Oral History Office. Emily H. Huntington: A Career in Consumer Economics and Social Insurance. Interview conducted by Alice Greene King. 1971. From genealogical data found at

Image Source: 1921 passport photo.


Margaret Fitz Randolph Gay

1901. Born December 17 in Toledo Ohio to Edwin Francis Gay and Louise Fitz Randolph

1922. A. B. awarded by Radcliffe College. Phi Beta Kappa with distinction in history.

1923. A. M. Radcliffe College.

1928-29. $1,200 Augustus Anson Whitney and Benjamin White Whitney Fellowship to study abroad.

1931-36. Tutor in history and economics at Radcliffe.

1936-41. Assistant professor of history at Scripps College, Claremont, CA

1939. Married Godfrey Davies, member of the research staff of the Huntington Library and editor of its Quarterly.

1942-45. Analyst for Douglas Aircraft Co.

1948-1967. Instructor through professor ranks at Pomona College in Claremont.

1952. Ph. D. in History. Presumably thesis published as The Enforcement of English Apprenticeship: A Study in Applied Mercantilism, 1563-1642 (Harvard Economic Studies 97, Harvard University Press, 1956).

1967. Retirement.

1989. Died August 3 in Santa Barbara, CA.


Sources: Radcliffe College Annual Reports. John H. Gleason’s In Memorium: Margaret Gay Davies (1901-89).   From genealogical data found at

Image Source: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Margaret G. Davies awarded fellowship 1961



Eunice Shipton Coyle


1895. Born October 3 in Boston to James Michael and Agnes M. Eisner.

1918. A.B. Radcliffe College.

1926. A.M. Radcliffe College.

1936. Census Bureau

1940. According to the Census her occupation listed as research worker at the Department of the Treasury.

1982. Died December 29 in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Source: From genealogical data found at



Miriam Keeler

1897.Born September 30, 1897 in Malden Massachusetts to Charles H. Keeler and Susan R. Fisher.

1920. A. B. Magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke. Phi Beta Kappa.

1926. A.M. in economics from Radcliffe College.

1927. Married Samuel E. Cornelius. (died in 1965).

1929-1936. National Child Labor Committee of New York.

1938. Move to Washington area. Worked at Labor Department, editor of the monthly magazine The Child. issued by the Children’s Bureau.

1957. Wrote pamphlet “What Social Security means to Women”

1960. Retirement.

1998. Died November 12 in Sandy Spring, Maryland.

Source: Obituary “Miriam Keeler, Economist” in Washington Post, Dec. 3, 1993, B10. From genealogical data found at

Image Source: Passport Application June 29, 1923.



Gertrude Brown


1903. Born Mary Gertrude Brown on February 26 in Carre, Vermont to Joseph E. Brown and Dora Ellen Reagan.

1924. A. B. Mount Holyoke College. (Mary E. Wooley Fellowship)

1926. A. M. in economics. Radcliffe College.

1926. Assistant in the Department of Economics and Statistics, M.I.T.

1927. Married Elmer J. Working (Harvard economics Ph.D.) June 11 in Somerville, Massachusetts.

1928. Residence in St. Paul, Minnesota. Husband employed as associate professor in the College of Agriculture.

1932. Ph.D. in Economic History at Radcliffe College. “The History of Silk Culture in the North American Colonies.”

1930. Residence in Washington, D.C. Husband employed as a government economist.

1935. Residence in Washington, D.C.

1940. Living in Urbana, Illinois. Husband professor at the University of Illinois.

1989. Died January 9 in Denver Colorado.

Source: From genealogical data found at


Ruth Guppy


1899. Born June 11 in Marblehead, MA to George Guppy (architect, born in New York City) and Florence R. Gray (born in Chelsea, MA).

1926. A.M., Radcliffe College.

1930. According to Census, Ruth Guppy was single, living in Brooklyn and working as an economic researcher for a bank.

1930. Married Lawrence G. Ropes in 1930.

1940. Residence in Beverly, Massachusetts. Husband’s occupation listed as hydraulic engineer.

1991. Died Jan 7. Last residence Short Hills, New Jersey.

Source: From genealogical data found at



Anna True Gilchrist

1882. Born January 17 in Arlington, Massachusetts to George E. Gilchrist (born in Canada) and Annie J. Warren.

1900. Pupil at Northfield Seminary in Northfield, Massachusetts.

1901-02. Lived in Europe.

1910. Residence in Melrose, Massachusetts with parents.

1906. A. B. Boston University. Member Delta Delta Delta and Phi Beta Kappa.

1920. Listed in the Simmons College yearbook Microcosm as a graduate student.

1922. Passport renewal application for travel to England, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, France, Italy and Switzerland with scheduled departure on the Lapland (President Wilson) on January 18, 1923. Her occupation is listed as social worker, residing in Melrose.

1926. A.M., Radcliffe College.

1940. Residence at 110 Sewall Ave. in Brookline, MA.

Source: From genealogical data found at


Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier