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Women of the Hall

Photo Credit: MIT Museum
Year Honored: 1998
Birth: 1875 - Death: 1967
Born In: Michigan, United States of America
Died In: Massachusetts, United States of America
Achievements: Humanities, Philanthropy
Educated In: Massachusetts
Schools Attended: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Worked In: Massachusetts

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Katharine Dexter McCormick

Katharine Dexter McCormick made a significant impact on women's equality in the areas of suffrage, contraception, and scientific education. First, as an officer of the National Woman's Suffrage Association, McCormick helped achieve the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. In 1919, she helped Carrie Chapman Catt found the League of Women Voters. As its first vice president, she educated women in the political process and worked to promote their political power. Second, McCormick funded the essential research that led to the discovery and development of "the pill" (1956). Thereafter, she helped finance research on the pill's long-term effects. Finally, as a rare 1904 female graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she realized that one of the key barriers to women entering MIT was the lack of campus housing for them. In 1959 she fully funded MIT's first on-campus residence for women, helping increase the number of women at MIT from 3% to 40% of the undergraduates. As a philanthropist and activist, McCormick very significantly improved women's social, political, economic and intellectual position in America.
Additional Sources:

Asbell, Bernard. The Pill: A Biography of the Drug that Changed the World. New York: Random House, 1995.

Papers 1811-1964, 2 cu ft. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Correspondence in the papers of Carrie Chapman Catt 1848-1950 (bulk 1890-1920). Library of Congress, Manuscript Division. Washington, D.C.