The history of women at the University of Michigan is not a new topic for research, although there are many things that remain unknown to Michigan alumni, students, faculty and fans. 

As we began our research, we relied on the work of two scholars, Dorothy McGuigan and Ruth Bordin. Their research guided us and made it possible for us to delve even further into the rich history of women and gender at Michigan.

Dorothy McGuigan.jpg

Dorothy McGuigan

Dorothy McGuigan published A Dangerous Experiment: 100 Years of Women at the University of Michigan in 1970.

When no university press would publish A Dangerous Experiment, the Center for Continuing Education of Women decided to publish the book. A Dangerous Experiment was pioneering in its presentation of women's history and was extremely important in inspiring other scholars. McGuigan, a journalist and Michigan graduate, fought for greater representation of women at the University, including a center for gender studies. The Women's Studies Department annually honors student writing on women with the Dorothy McGuigan Prize.

Ruth Bordin book.JPG

Women at Michigan: The "Dangerous Experiment," 1870s to the Present

Ruth Bordin picked up the work of Dorothy McGuigan and published Women at Michigan: The "Dangerous Experiment," 1870s to the Present in 1999.

Ruth Bordin was an American historian originally from Minnesota. She taught American history at Eastern Michigan University. She worked for the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan for many years as a research affiliate. While working for the Bentley, she was instrumental in the accession of President Gerald Ford's papers and wrote about the history of the University, including a book about Michigan alumna Alice Freeman Palmer. Today she is remembered with the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professorship of History, American Culture, and Women's Studies, which Mary C. Kelley currently holds. 


Plaque commemorating the admission of women to the University of Michigan in Angell Hall