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Margaret Boyd
Margaret Boyd
3. Margaret Boyd: Ohio University's First Female Graduate

The following is an excerpt from "Ohio University, 1804-2004: The Spirit of a Singular Place" by Betty Hollow, published by Ohio University Press.

From enrollment in the spring of 1868 to commencement in 1873, the first woman at Ohio University was aware of herself as an alien. Margaret Boyd's enrollment was recorded in the university catalogue at "M. Boyd" and was the subject of local discussion. While the faculty had no objection, there was "some fear that the public might be unfavorably influenced" by the presence of a female student. Later, when the faculty realized there was "general approval of her presence," Margaret Boyd's full name was printed. Nearing commencement, Margaret was shown her diploma by President Scott and objected to the masculine endings in its Latin text. Her diary for that day summarized much of the history of women in higher education to that date: "What a sad thing it is to be a girl." On June 17 she informed the president, "I do not want a diploma with masculine endings." The endings were changed.

Beneath Boyd's demeanor of determination and conviction were nagging questions and doubts prompted by Victorian ideology, by gender roles, and by the uncertainty of her future. By seeking a college education in 1873 when few universities admitted women, Boyd's courage and perseverance put her on the frontier of changing expectations for women.

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