Old map of Southeastern Ohio
Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio

Margaret Boyd (1846-1905)

MARGARET (“Maggie”) BOYD, historic photo
Margaret Boyd portrait, circa 1873. Courtesy of Ohio University Archives
Margaret Boyd circa 1890
Margaret Boyd circa 1890
Margaret Boyd and Class of 1873
Ohio University class of 1873. Courtesy of Ohio University Archives.

About “Maggie” Boyd

OHIO's first women graduate: Born to Irish immigrant farmers in Carthage Township, Athens County, Ohio, Margaret Boyd became the first female student to graduate from Ohio University, earning her B.A. in 1873. She went on to earn her M.A. in 1876.

Boyd helped to realize the demand voiced at the Seneca Falls Convention for greater access to higher education for women—at a time when very few women attended college nationwide. Initially listed in the catalog as “M. Boyd” to avoid the possible controversy of admitting a woman to the university, Boyd was mindful of her status as a pathmaker. When she objected to the masculine endings in the Latin text of her diploma, they were changed.

Professor of Mathematics: After graduating, Boyd secured a job as head of the preparatory department at Cincinnati Wesleyan College for Women. In 1878, she was promoted to the college faculty as a Professor of Mathematics. Chronic health issues later caused her to return to Athens, where she taught in the public schools until retiring in 1899. She died from complications from surgery in 1905. 


Her Time

Margaret Boyd set foot on the College Green in Athens just 25 years after Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frederick Douglass convened the Seneca Falls Convention in upstate New York to press for women's rights. Between the convention and Boyd's arrival at OHIO, the nation fought a Civil War to end slavery.

From her Diary

In her diary, Boyd—or Maggie, as she was known—records feelings of self-doubt and loneliness as well as determination to learn and better herself. Her writing about college life still resonates today:

“These longings after something higher and better, will they ever be satisfied?”

Read her Diary in the Ohio University Archives

Margaret Boyd diary cover
Margaret Boyd diary inside flap
Margaret Boyd diary page
Boyd Hall on the Ohio University campus
Boyd Hall

Her Legacy at OHIO

Ohio University has named two student residence halls in Boyd’s honor. The first, at the corner of Park Place and University Terrace, was torn down in 1966, and the new Boyd Hall is on the West Green.

The Margaret Boyd Scholars Program for women scholars at Ohio University carries on her legacy.