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First female professor at Harvard

Professor Helen Cam (1885-1968)



It wasn’t until 1948 that Harvard appointed its first female professor: Helen Cam.  She proved that gender didn’t need to be an obstacle to pursuing a career in academia at a time when women rarely received a university education. 

Cam’s own career started at Royal Holloway College in 1904 when she won a scholarship to study history. She achieved a first.

Cam went on to be highly respected by fellow academics in the US and by centres of medieval history (her area of focus). She was unusual for her attention on local administration when the dominant historians of the time looked at constitutional and legal history instead.

Cam also helped establish Hillcroft College with one of her contemporaries from Royal Holloway, which is where Cam was converted to women’s suffrage but not militancy. 

                                              Image courtesy of Schlesigner Library




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