The exhibit “World War I and the Clemson Community” on display in the lobby of R.M. Cooper Library through May 15, 2017 highlights the significant impact the war had on campus life. In particular, the all-male college saw the arrival of the first women faculty members.
A handful of women worked in staff positions on campus in the school’s early years. And librarian Katherine B. Trescot was classified as a member of the professional administrative staff. But there were no women among the teaching faculty until World War I military service reduced the number of available male faculty members nationwide .
In the summer of 1918, twenty-three year old Rosamond Wolcott was hired to replace her brother Wallace who left his position teaching architecture to join the Army. Wolcott had a B.A. and a Master of Architecture from Cornell University.
She wrote to Rudolph Lee, Head of the Architecture Department: “If you have any prejudice in appointing a woman for the position, I thought the fact that Cornell has appointed me to a position in their College of Architecture might be an argument in my favor.”
At Clemson, Wolcott taught Architecture and Drawing classes in the Fall 1918 semester. After leaving Clemson, Wolcott and her brother opened their own architecture firm in New York City.
Mary Evans, who held a degree from the University of Tennessee, was hired as an instructor in the Botany Division to teach Entomology and Zoology. She continued to teach at Clemson into the 1920s and later married Clemson professor William Aull.
Mable E. Stehle, who had a degree from Ohio State, was hired as an Instructor of Entomology, and also French. Stehle also continued to teach at Clemson into the early 1920s.
Although not a teaching position, Ellen Converse, with a degree from the University of Tennessee, filled a position as Assistant Botanist and Plant Pathologist for the Experiment Station.
While the hiring of Wolcott, Evans, Stehle and Converse was a significant moment in the school’s history, it wasn’t the beginning of a trend. They were not replaced by other women when they left and Clemson did not regularly hire women in faculty and administrative positions until the 1970s.