Michigan and the Great Lakes

Women at Michigan

The "Dangerous Experiment," 1870s to the Present
Ruth Bordin
Foreword by Martha Vicinus/Introduction by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Lynn Y. Weiner
Revisits the opportunities and obstacles that have faced women students, faculty, and administrators at the University of Michigan through the decades


Women at Michigan traces the fascinating history of women at the University of Michigan, from the first reluctant admission of women students in the 1870s (which one male administrator referred to as "the dangerous experiment") to the tumultuous post-World War II period and from the radical changes of the 1960s and 1970s to the present. The hurdles that women who pursued higher education at Michigan and elsewhere faced may surprise those who observe the relative freedom of women on college campuses today.

Women at Michigan was written by well respected historian Ruth Bordin, whose own career was impeded by the gender inequality of the era and who unfortunately died before seeing this book in print. Her study is grounded in historical detail. While drawing upon the larger historiography of women's higher education to round out its story, the book shows Michigan to be one case among many. Women at Michigan is richly illustrated with archival photographs depicting women's experience at the University of Michigan—as students, faculty, administrators, and staff—through the years.

Historian Ruth Bordin was author of A Pictorial History of The University of Michigan; Frances Willard: A Biography; and Alice Freeman Palmer: The Evolution of a New Woman.

Martha Vicinus is Professor of English and History, University of Michigan.

Kathryn Kish Sklar is Distinguished Professor of History, Binghamton University.

Lynn Weiner is a historian and Associate Dean, Roosevelt University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Although this work focuses on the University of Michigan, it should appeal to a broad audience. For those interested in tracing institutional change, Bordin clearly mapped the forces that either resulted in new policies and practices or, in many cases, thwarted them. . . . Bordin focused her work on the University of Michigan, but readers will likely find that the story and insights she offered are appropriate to most coeducational institutions."
    —Janice M. Leone, Middle Tennessee State University, History of Education Quarterly, Volume 40, No. 2 (Summer 2000)
  • ". . . offers rich insights into the experiences of women at one of the nation's largest and most influential coeducational institutions."
    —Sarah V. Barnes, Boulder, Colorado, Michigan Historical Review
  • ". . . Bordin's work shows what rich and largely untapped archival sources exist for historical research research in these collections. . . . Bordin's work not only informs us about the University of Michigan, but leads the way for similar studies at universities around the country."
    —Barbara Floyd, Univ. of Toledo, Northwest Ohio Quarterly, Summer-Fall 2000

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 200pp.
  • 48 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08793-8

Add to Cart
  • $21.95 U.S.